10 tools I'm using to get things done in 2023

I’ve been reflecting on my workflows and the apps that will help me this year.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Calendar: Fantastical (I like the natural language input)
  • Email: Fastmail (better keyboard shortcuts than Mail)
  • Task management: Apple Reminders
  • Time tracking: Toggl (with Timery)
  • Quick notes: Apple Notes (moving from Drafts to consolidate electronic and handwritten notes)
  • Longer notes/articles: Obsidian
  • Asset management: Eagle (I use this for organising screenshots)
  • Project dashboards and business management: Coda (I share these with clients. I like Craft too, but it doesn’t have the same chart-making ability of Coda)
  • Passwords: 1Password (the only app I’ve remained faithful to in 10 years!)
  • Text automation: aText (a cheaper alternative to TextExpander that meets my needs)

I’m still playing around with Tana to see if/where it might fit in.

Would love to hear what others are using!

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and tinkering before I go back to work. Here is where I landed:

  • Calendar: Apple Calendars / Outlook for work
  • Email: Fastmail for backend and HEY client where all emails are forwarded into
  • Task management: Things 3
  • Quick notes: Apple Notes but experimenting with the quick note feature in Raycast for transient notes
  • Longer notes/articles: Craft
  • Asset management: Craft / Finder
  • Project dashboards and business management: Do not use
  • Passwords: 1Password
  • Text automation: Do not use

I’m still figuring out how to organize files and resources - e.g. using Finder or something like Devonthink.

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Similar to the above, but…

Drafts for permanent/serious notes and writing, Apple Notes for casual/temporary quick stuff
Devonthink for knowledgebase and personal/client data files
Migrated text expansion from textexpander to Keyboard Maestro (was already using KM, decided to start consolidating tools)
Moom for window management (snapping and some preset divided screen layouts)
Velja for browser selection based on target website
Parallels for legacy/enterprise Windows apps still needed
Tailscale for remote access to Plex and Security Cameras in lieu of port forwarding
Loopback for enabling audio portion of video screen recording with Quicktime
Microsoft Outlook with Fastmail servers for email on Mac - weird, I know, but I dislike the Apple mail client and most others, Outlook has been the best compromise I can tolerate

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My current ten most used tools:

  1. Capture: Drafts
  2. Tasks: Reminders
  3. Mail/Cal: Apple Calendar and Mail (with an iCloud custom domain)
  4. Notes: DEVONthink for notes and research relating to work, Apple Notes for personal and shared notes
  5. Passwords: 1Password
  6. Writing/Office: Ulysses, AirTable, Keynote and Numbers
  7. Media: Photoshop and Final Cut
  8. Development: PyCharm and WebStorm
  9. File sharing: Dropbox Pro
  10. Text automation: Textexpander

Most of the subscriptions I have are paid for by my work (Creative Cloud, Dropbox, TextExpander). If this weren’t the case, I’d probably look for alternatives.

My biggest shift has been away from non-native/web apps (Obsidian, Superhuman, and Office365 in particular) to native Mac ones. Now, I have much better integrations, and I find automation with AppleScript is much more powerful with native apps. AirTable is the one I cannot replace as we use it extensively at work.

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I’m still in a state of flux for a lot of this, partially because I start a new job in 4 weeks so I’m nervous about locking in apps when there is a chance I will need to work within a more locked down O365 environment.

The other factor is that I really like the idea of going more ‘canonical’ GTD by maintaining context & projects lists and managing next actions via context, rather than my current Things 3 approach of having every project set up with it’s own list of tasks etc… Toying with the idea of Noteplan for this.

But this is the state of play:

  • Calendar: Apple Calendars & Outlook (moved from Fantastical)
  • Email: Apple Mail & Outlook
  • Task management: Things 3 but experimenting with Noteplan
  • Notes: Apple Notes but experimenting with both Noteplan & Craft
  • Fiction Writing: Plottr & Scrivener
  • Resources & Archives: DevonThink 3 & DTTG (with some Finder use)
  • Project dashboards and business management: Nothing now, but aiming to use MS Planner in new role to manage team / department work
  • Passwords: Strongbox (just moved from 1Password)
  • Personal Finance: Moneydance
  • Read it later: Reeder 5 with native iCloud RSS & read it later buckets.
  • Music: Roon (a stretch as a tool, but it helps me get things done :slight_smile: )
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Congratulations on the new job! Best of luck in your new endeavor.

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Here’s my current stack:

Overall this app-centric approach works really well for me. Notes go in Notes, Photos go in Photos, Email goes in Mail, Documents go in DEVONthink, Tasks go in OmniFocus, etc…

I used to use TextExpander before they became a subscription. Then I used Keyboard Maestro after that, but with both of them I found the only thing I reliably did with them was set dates for file names. Eventually I decided they weren’t worth it.

1Password was on the chopping block since the announcement of the move to Electron. I tried for several months to use something else, but nothing worked quite right. Also, my team at work uses 1Password, so I was always going to have it around anyway. Currently sticking with v7, but I’m sure I’ll need to update to v8 eventually.

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  • Automation: Keyboard Maestro and Alfred
  • Database (flat file): Notenik
  • Editors (misc): Byword, BBEdit
  • E-mail: Apple Mail
  • Everything Bucket: EagleFiler
  • Music: Apple Music, no subscription, just ripped CDs and purchases from iTunes, Bandcamp, etc.
  • Notes: Noteplan
  • Passwords: Strongbox
  • Personal Finance: Numbers spreadsheets
  • Photos: Photo Mechanic and Affinity Photo
  • RSS: Reeder 4
  • Task management: Noteplan with Apple Calendar integration, and Due
  • Window management: Moom

EDIT: Forgot to say that Apple Mail is fed from my Hover e-mail account. I still use POP3 to bring it down to my Mac and only when I ask for it.

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2023 for me, is the year of paring down needless apps and subscriptions, though I still have a quite a few.

  • Calendar: Fantastical - I renewed just before their price increase so I’m good for several months, but I likely won’t be returning. I like Timepage and I have a grandfathered account so it’s free, and failing that I might even go for Calendars 5. The fact that the stock calendar app shows only black dots as events is not great, and the inability to scroll through events in the “calendar on top, events on the bottom” view cements this as a non-starter for me. It’s just way too slow to navigate through the app
  • Email: Stock mail for my Fastmail account, Outlook for my work account.
  • Task management: Todoist
  • Quick Reminders (e.g. "take out the garbage at 2pm): Reminders/Siri
  • Quick notes: After hearing about @Bmosbacker and his Apple Notes issues, I’m steering clear of the app. I’ve said on this forum I don’t understand the benefit of Drafts, but it’s actually been working well for this lately so I guess I have to eat some crow there.
  • Time Tracking: I don’t time track
  • Notes for reference (emails, receipts, screen shots, instruction manuals etc): Evernote
  • Thinking Notes (my own thoughts, goal tracking): Obsidian free version w iCloud sync
  • Passwords: 1Password
  • Text automation: Beeftext for Windows on my work PC. I don’t use anything on my personal Mac.
  • Hand writing (replacing scraps of paper on my desk and notebooks): GoodNotes
  • Read it Later: Instapaper (Free). I never liked the limited formatting options within Pocket, and Readwise/Readwise Reader just doesn’t click for me, especially at $100+ per year.
  • Journal: DayOne
  • Weather: Carrot

Great thread!

Here is my personal computing list:

  • Calendar: Apple calendar (I love the natural language input capabilities of Fantastical, and it has some nice other features, but it strikes me as visually too busy)
  • Email: mail
  • Task management: Todoist
  • Time tracking: I’m experimenting this year with Toggl, Timery, and TIMEFLIP2.

Notes: ok , this notes section could be a thread unto itself. Trying to keep it simple.

  • if it’s a fact about my personal life that I need, then Apple Notes. For example, pet vaccination records.

  • If it is a conceptual thought – a Zettel – then I use Craft (where I’m building my Zettelkasten).

  • Text tends to start in Drafts where I try to capture thoughts, notes, etc. even if I’m not sure where it will end up or if I’ll keep it.

  • Longer notes/articles/essays: written in Ulysses transferred to Craft after publication.

  • Project dashboards and business management: Todoist (The Kanban views are native to the app and very helpful).

  • Passwords: 1Password

  • Text automation: nothing

  • PDF reading/highlighting/annotating: DEVONThink, Files, Highlights(Highlights is really helpful)

  • RSS: NetNewsWire

  • Thinking and diagramming: FreeForm (I’m loving this app for creative thinking and brainstorming! The ability to “think with my hands” using many inputs – photos, colors, hand-drawn lines – really resonates with me. The fact that it is Mac-native is also nice. I think this app has a very bright future.)

  • Reading books: physical books and kindle

  • Money: YNAB

A general note: in 2023 I’m trying to minimize the number of apps I use and ensure my workflow is well-defined and streamlined. This has started with big picture questions like, “What do I use a computer for?” “What specific tasks do I want to accomplish with my computers, and why?”

In order of most used:

  • Notebooks - Primarily for blogging/writing. New in my collection of markdown/text/anything apps. In recent times I’ve used iAWriter, Taio. Giving Notebooks a try because I like that it accepts a lot of files that can be stored, indexed and embedded. Super easy to post to micro.blog from this app via a shortcut. Also, via Safari and Shortcuts, I’ve been bringing in my older Wordpress blog posts for local storage as markdown files and Notebooks and it’s working very well. Last, Notebooks has tasks/reminders so I’m trying that feature and so far it’s working really well.
  • The Affinity apps: Publisher is working fantastically on the iPad and thanks to the Studio Link feature I don’t really open Designer or Photo anymore.
  • Textastic: Key to updating, managing and setting up new websites from the iPad.
  • Numbers: My bank ledger, client time tracker and invoicing
  • Apple Mail
  • Messages
  • Freeform - Really curious to see if I can use this as a sort of shared project dashboard, especially with one particular client, possibly others.
  • Reminders - Generally happy with the stock app
  • Notes - I use Apple notes for a lot of quick/temporary stuff like writing this post. It’s my scratchpad/sticky note.
  • News Explorer for RSS

Clinical practice (family and marriage therapy):

Genograms → iGenogram (iPad)

Timelines → TimeStory (Mac):

Clinical notes → Numbers (Mac):

Urban sketching → Tayasui (iPad):

Journaling → Notes (iPad):

And transcribed and placed into Pages for final journal:

And the most important tool in my arsenal… website/app blocking → Freedom.to

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  • Calendar: Google Calendar mirrored in Apple Calendar
  • Email: Spark (email client) using Gmail. Contemplating dumping Gmail for Fastmail. Always testing out other Mail clients like Apple Mail, etc.
  • Text Capture/Movement: Drafts
  • Web Dev: Nova by Panic Software
  • Blogging/Website: WordPress using GeneratePress theme
  • Task Management: Apple Reminders
  • Ref/Long Term Notes: Bear Premium but testing out Apple Notes
  • Digital/EBooks: Calibre
  • Passwords: 1Password
  • Read Later/RSS: Matter (testing but using a lot); Instapaper (legacy); Reeder 5
  • Music: Apple Music (no subscription; tons of ripped music)
  • Weather: Apple Weather (RIP Dark Sky)

I work in a highly locked down Office 365 environment so am a ‘forced’ user of MSFT Office tools including Outlook and, painfully, OneNote for note taking.

Calendar: Apple Calendar (personal) / Google calendar & Org mode (work)
Task management: Things 3 (personal) / Org mode (work)
Email client: mutt
Quick notes: Drafts
Longer notes/articles: Notebooks (personal) / Devonthink (work)
Writing: Emacs
Server Admin related editing: (n)vi
Asset management: Devonthink
Passwords: Bitwarden
Other daily use work apps: zsh, ssh, mosh, tmux

Most of my work related workflows have been refined and automated over the past 25+ years. Despite having picked up my first Mac in 1992 and a used NeXTstation the following year I still prefer terminal applications and BSD command line tools over graphical apps for getting most things done.

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I’m using a similar selection of tools, but I want to mention one I have yet to see here that I really came to rely on 2022: MindNode. It’s really become my go to tool for developing and “cooking” ideas. I also like it for informal planning—each node in the mindmap could be a month, a day, a week (or some other unit of organization)—and then I sketch out projects before they get to my task manager (OmniFocus).

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Welcome the forum. Hope you stick around. Someone mentioned mutt a while back, but I don’t think we’ve had someone who actually uses it. :grinning:

What a great thread! I think my stack is a little more than 10 items but here it goes:

Capture - Drafts: quick capture, complex e-mails

E-mail - Spark: to manage Fastmail for my personal e-mail and O365 email in one app.

Calendar - Fantastical: expensive but I haven’t found a better solution to integrate the many calendars that govern my life. Calendar sets, proposals and polished apps make the app worth it.

Podcasts - Overcast: just switched from Pocketcasts and find smart speed significantly better. I can get through my informative/educational podcasts in substantially less time.

Music - Spotify: Great playlists, integrates with the Philips Hue app for syncing colour lights to music. Spotify Connect works well with Sonos speakers and bluetooth devices.

Read later (3 apps):

Readwise with Reader beta app for articles of interest/long reads and am just now starting to use it for reading epub books. I am not impressed with the update to Apple’s Books app. The ability to collect and review highlights is game changing.

Reeder 5: Great for RSS. I subscribe to my tech news and blogs through Reeder. These are articles that I typically don’t highlight or need to refer back to. If anything worthwhile comes up it’s an easy share to Readwise.

Zotero: for clinical/academic paper management. I only just started organizing my papers recently. I’m not sure what took me so long to get here.

PKM - Craft: I like how it manages media, sharing of notes via private link is excellent. A great sleeper feature is its ability to read your calendar events and you can instantly start taking notes off of calendar items.

I haven’t been able to integrate Obsidian into my workflow to the same degree. I don’t like how it handles attachments and the iOS app isn’t there yet for me.

Cloud Storage: I have O365 for work and use OneDrive for cloud storage. Never had a syncing issue.

Productivity Suite: I grew up with Office and have a hard time moving away from it. Excel is still king for spreadsheets and for work everyone is on O365.

To-do list: Currently on Todoist but experimenting with Reminders, Microsoft To-Do and Asana (free tier). Things is out because I need file attachment support.

Bonus: Automation

Keyboard Mastro for text expansion and some general MacOS automations.

Alfred 5 for universal clipboard maangement and launching anything and everything.

Rectangle Pro for window management

One of my goals for this year is to take a look at how I can better leverage Devonthink into my setup. I have many files on my OneDrive that I reference for work that are not a part of Craft and are siloed off. I also want to explore how Zotero would fit into that.

I love this thread! Getting insight into other folks’ workflows is always fascinating. I’m trying very hard to avoid switching apps in 2023, so this is part sharing part accountability.

  • Email: This one’s up in the air. I’ve been using Mimestream on Mac and the Gmail app on iOS for all of my personal/non-clinical accounts, and I’m bound to Outlook for work (in medicine, so fairly locked down). But lately I’ve been trying to simplify and am wondering if Apple Mail might serve me well with the recent additions.
  • Tasks/Calendar: I’m a Todoist girl — this was an area of significant exploration in both 2021 and 2022; I went from Goodtask/Reminders to Noteplan to Things to a weird combo of the former with Trello. Ultimately, though, I went with Todoist. Its NLP is excellent and my partner who uses Android can have shared lists with me, plus I love the Kanban. It also works well with Fantastical, which I use for calendering with a GCal backend. I know the cost is high, but I’m happy with the service and like having my events and tasks in the same view with easy input for all.
  • Project management: Notion. On a day to day level, what Robert Talbert calls the tactical level, Fantastical/Todoist does the trick. For long range strategic planning and project planning, including collecting all the Google Docs I use for writing etc, a few simple Notion databases do the trick. Also I am experimenting with returning to some paper planning in a Hobonichi.
  • Citations/References: Zotero forever and ever. I love it! I’ve been a user for 5+ years and while I have occasionally been tempted elsewhere, it never sticks.
  • Notes: I used to subscribe to the “all notes in one place” philosophy, and my old everything bucket was Evernote. Since then, I’ve found it beneficial to split. Personal, ephemeral notes go in Apple Notes. My academic notes on articles, ideas, etc, go in my modified Franken-zettelkasten, which has now been in Obsidian for almost two years. Finally, I keep a library of clinical notes (a kind of clinical reference library, no patient info) in Bear, which could hypothetically be moved to Obsidian as well but honestly the app is not nearly as fast and nimble and I need it to be quick on iOS.
  • Cloud storage: largely Google Drive, with some Dropbox
  • Brainstorming/mind mapping: Mindnode, a relatively recent love.
  • Handwritten digital notes: split between Apple Notes (personal) and Notability (intellectual, feeds into my Obsidian vault via Dropbox)
  • Health tracking: I’m always looking for suggestions on this one. I use Apple Health extensively but don’t love how it displays data, and I have had a Garmin watch for ages so tend to use their app as well. I’d love something that visually kept track of my progress towards goals, but I don’t need calorie tracking at all.
  • RSS/Read later: I use Reeder and the Readwise Reader now, which I love. Readwise feeds highlights into Obsidian, where I process them as I have time.
  • Music: Spotify
  • Podcasts: Overcast
  • Passwords: 1Password
  • Recipes: Mela
  • Groceries: Grocery + Instacart
  • Mindfulness: Headspace + Down Dog
  • Money/budgeting: YNAB
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Alfred :heart: :heart: :heart:

Velja is so damn cool. Free and ultra good app. I spoke to the developer and gave him the feedback to add export rules ability. They added it within a few days and asked me to update. Great indie developer

Things 3 rocks. The ability to do Ctrl + Space to add todos, and the mac app supporting keyboard so well it is the reason I fell in love with it. This was a new entry in 2022.

I’m a bit thrifty so using their free plan but it is probably one of the best file sync services. Very reliable.

Reeder is again a great app with amazing integrations. Without a doubt. Another app by the same dev is Mela, for recipe collections

Apple Notes is rock solid. And with them adding end-end encryption, it becomes a no brainer for my use case

I’m gonna continue using these apps in 2023. The only new entry is Obsidian for me. For long term knowledge/education notes. It is superb. Canceled my Evernote sub. :slight_smile: Obsidian gives me more control and a plethora of plugins. Don’t get discouraged if it is not native, it is very fluid and fast.

I discovered so many great apps here. Thanks MPU :heart:

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Thank you for the warm welcome. Been lurking for quite a while and finally decided to jump in.

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