Posts in iPhone
Should You Download Another Productivity App?
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Another productivity app anyone? Maybe a new Markdown editor or todo app for your smartphone? Wait! Before you hit the download button, think again.

There is an upside to an app that works for you. There is also a downside to any app that steals your focus. 

I've certainly felt this. When my work tools are helping me get things done, it fees good. When I'm tempted to test out something new, there is a slight feeling of unrest. There really is a spiritual component to our work.

As Carl Pullein says, your apps should work for you, not the other way around. 


To save you time, I've tested out the latest version of Omnifocus (version 3.0) and it's quite strong. That doesn't mean that you should use it but you should watch the video. If you like the app, the OmniGroup is prepping for a May 30th public launch. 

Enjoy the review!




About Mike St. Pierre

I teach people how to pray using simple online tools like blogs and video. f you’d like to be included in my regular email with tips and tricks for praying better, you can sign up here.

The Amazing Comeback of Paper Notebooks

Why should you have to choose between digital and paper tools for getting things done?  

David Allen, founder of GTD, has long praised the value of a portable paper notebook that he uses to capture random thoughts during the day.

Still, I see lots of people struggling to find the right balance between paper and digital. They feel pressure to use their iPhone for everything.  Or, they've never really thought about how they like to work and just default to what they see other people doing.  They typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Random paper on the desk (i.e. post-it notes)
  • Multiple notebooks with lists and thoughts inside
  • Everything on their phones

Here's the good news- there's a better way!  Even better, there's a better way that can be custom-tailored to your particular style of working.

In the next episode of the Emergent Leader Podcast, I'll be talking about a simple formula that I use for combining paper and digital productivity tools.  

In the meantime, here's what I use every single day:

  • Smartphone (for calendar, email, social media, todo app)
  • MacBook Air (for blitz emailling, calendar, writing, creative work)
  • Pocket capture notebook (with notecards for small thoughts and reminders in the day)
  • Black notebook (what I take to all meetings, where I form my daily plan)

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See the last item?  Yup- a single notebook with old-fashioned paper in it.  Turns out, paper is making a big comeback, especially for people who appreciate aesthetics and for those that see the value of writing things down.

Just check out these recent articles about notebooks and their raging popularity:

You don't have to go solely digital or solely analog.  The most productive people I know actually use both.

The Real Reason to Take a Break from Technology

You've seen them.  You've watched them at restaurants.  These are the folks that really, really need to take a break from technology.  They just don't know it.  Nice people.

These are the ones who love their iPhones.  So much so, in fact that they can't put them down.  Ever. 

And this is why I created Speak Digital.  My goal is to help readers not have to be slaves to their technology.  Sure, we love our gadgets but that doesn't mean that we have to take our phones to the bathroom.  (note: not a good idea)

Freedom- that's why we ought to take an occasional break from technology.  Breaks are good during the workday and help us to return with more bounce in our step.  Vacations are good for the same reason.  

Like an elastic band, we often need both push and pull.  I know that I do.  Thankfully I also am fortunate to work with folks who have the green light to tell me when I need to step away and take a break.

Life is so rich- full of relationships, experiences and fun.  The technology is just one part of it. Let's keep our eye on the goal- an exciting life that is intentional and freely chosen.

To assist in your freedom journey, here are some excellent resources worth your time:

*photo courtesy of fdp

From Flocknote to Remind 101

If your school is like mine, you know that kids text ... a lot.  By a recent study, they text an average of 60 times per day.  This is, not surprisingly, up quite a bit from just a few years ago.  I'm amazed at my daughter's finger-speed on the keypad of her slider phone- almost Olympic skills!

Our school has a policy that coaches and teachers do not text players or students.  Kids want to text adults but we don't want the opposite in play.  We tested out Celly a few years ago but it didn't stick.

I wanted to like Flocknote but found it cumbersome and eventually expensive.

I'm testing out Remind 101 and so far, I'm really impressed.  The iOS and Android apps are smooth.  The online app has a great UI and overall Remind 101 will be a helpful tool for reminding kids of practice changes, snow day class assignments, etc.  We still use our usual cadre of online resources (Google Docs, Moodle, etc.) but sometimes you just need a complement.  


How a Shift to Android Improved my Productivity

When was the last time that you made a major change in your workflow that resulted in a dramatic increase in productivity?  


I love gadgets.  I can still remember my first PalmPilot and subsequent Palm Treo devices.  When the iPhone first came out, I jumped in and have owned the iPhone 3G, 4, 4s and 5.  All have been great and have become important tools in my productivity toolbox.  


Something changed in the past several months.  I got bored with my iPhone.  It's built with precision craftsmanship, works fairly well and is stunningly beautiful.  When I had the iPhone 5 for a week, the best comparison I could make was to the latest and greatest … Toyota Camry.


Before you accuse me of blasphemy, let me explain.


My brother has a Camry.  It's comfortable and offers a smooth ride.  The gas mileage is good enough.  With each new iteration, it improves over the previous model.  The only problem with a Camry is that it's, um, boring.  


Never heard a cute girl compliment a guy on his choice of a Camry over say, a Corvette or Jeep.  Camrys (and I've owned one) communicate something different.  They say, "I'm safe," or "I'm refined" or even "I'm vanilla".


So I got bored and studied how I could tweak my experience.  I learned that you can do something called "jailbreaking" which enables your iPhone to do amazing tricks and exciting actions.  Sure, I told myself, it voids the warranty but what's the worse that could happen?  


My iPhone froze up, that's what.


So I switched it back to its original mode. Until I missed the jailbroken features and re-jailbroke it two days later.  I loved the fact that I could send a text from the lock screen or configure my screen exactly the way that I wanted.


Freedom was mine.  That is, of course, until Apple updated the OS and the jailbreak window was closed. Never again would an iPhone user be able to modify, tweak and customize his experience within the Camry walls of Apple.  


Like a curious traveler, I considered my options.  I could stay with my iPhone.  After all, don't all of the cool kids have them?  Or, I could venture out and begin again within the parameters of a new platform.  


The new Blackberry wasn't out yet.  Windows Phone seemed destined to fail within a year's time. I was left with Android, a platform that I had previously bemoaned as clunky and cheap.


Until I actually tried one for a period of time.  My brother has a Google Nexus 4 and really liked it so I decided to give it a try.  Here are my results:



Google Play Store: While the Apple App Store probably has a better quality of apps, nearly every app that I used to run on my iPhone is available on Android.  Nozbe, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.  Better yet, the experience of buying an app via the Android App Store is much better, allowing you to purchase something online which is later downloaded to your phone.  Smooth and easy.  Do I miss a few apps that are only available on my iPhone?  Sure but not that much and I've been able to find replacement apps that work just as well.


Software: I can't fully communicate how nice it is to have the freedom to change whatever I want about how I use my phone.  Different lock screen?  Yup. Change the way your apps behave?  Sure.  Modify how your phone allocates battery power?  No problem.  Have apps work together seamlessly so that you can get more done on the fly?  Absolutely.  Android, in my opinion, has caught up to Apple's iOS platform, at least in terms of how the OS works.  I love it.


Google Simplicity: When I used an iPhone, I would sync my calendar app (and I've tried just about all of them) with Google Calendar.  Unfortunately, try as I might, I would end up with multiple events repeating themselves. There's nothing more stupid than four events on your calendar that say "Budget Meeting", all showing up at the same time.  With my Android phone, the sync power to Google products (like Calendar) is totally clean.  Only one Budget Meeting event will show up which  keeps my schedule clean and doesn't frustrate me in the middle of a day.



The hardware of an Apple product is tough to rival.  The HTC One is probably a worthy competitor but the other top-flight units have a way to go.  My Google Nexus 4 is not particularly noteworthy when it comes to hardware.  The camera is average as best.  The buttons are pedestrian.  No LTE is a bummer.  Many of the Twitter apps for Android have a long way to go.  



Any gadget should help you get things done.  Sure, each is fun in its own way but if it doesn't help you to do your work, it could be fodder for the paperweight drawer.  For me, Android is lots of fun.  As someone who likes to tweak and customize my experience, it's perfect.  I'm willing to make some hardware compromises in order to get more done.  Android is less of an experience of in-app/out-of-app productivity and more of doing what you need to do while using multiple apps.  I feel as if I'm using a more full-bodied computer and it's doing what I want it to do instead of what the company tells me that I should do with it.  


That's a gadget that I look forward to using today and for months to come.  


Question: How is your smartphone a help/hindrance to your productivity?


Photo courtesy of AC