As we all prep for 2018, I thought it might be helpful if I wrote a listicle post describing some of my favorite software and apps, with brief explanations of what makes them useful to me. As a pastor, teacher, writer, man, and productivity wannabe, I am always on the hunt for tools that might make me better. Here are a few I dig:
Nozbe: This is my current task management tool. It does have robust project management tools in it, but my use of it is rather simplistic by scheduling my daily goals and tasks with its calendar feature.
Calvary Monterey: My favorite church has an app!
Pocket Casts has been my go-to podcast app for a few years now. It has cross-device syncing, so I never lose my place. It has customized download options for each podcast I subscribe to, so I can have only the most recent episode of some podcasts, but keep every episode of another. It has variable speed playback, a volume booster, and it will even trim the silence. It does it all.
Logos is and will be the Bible study, sermon prep software I use for a long time. Their mobile apps are phenomenal, but I use it 95% of the time in desktop mode.
Google Photos: It was a happy day when my family jumped over to Google Photos. It just works, for one, but it has also been a joy having such easy access to decades of photos and videos.
Offtime: This app, by itself, is enough of a reason for me to have an Android phone. This app deserves an individual post. It is that good. It shuts down the internet, but also distracting apps and phone features, when I tell it to. For instance, when my calendar reads “Devos” it shuts down every app on my phone, but Spotify, and only allows text messages from a handful of people during that time. It is a game changer and helps you take back control of your devices.
Freedom: This service is a complement to Offtime in that it works on Mac and iOS devices. It does not remove access to various apps, but instead kills the internet for blocks of time you either manually fire up or schedule in advance. Study, reading, writing, and life are better because of this service.
Minuteur is a little timer app on my Mac that sits on top of all my other software. While studying or writing, I like seeing the clock countdown. It helps me stay engaged or even schedule out my workflow better. For instance, I can set a three-hour timer, but break up that three hours into fifteen minutes of reading, followed by forty-five minutes of writing, etc. I kill the internet during study, so online timers are a no-go for me.
Evernote is still my go-to notetaking, bill scanning, idea grabbing app. It just works on every device imaginable. My flow is to save everything to my @inbox at first, then process that @inbox every week, emptying it out by scheduling tasks and following up on the stuff I’ve recorded.
Basecamp is the project management and team collaboration service we use at Calvary Monterey. It is way better than those old email chains of yesteryear, and it works better for us than Slack.
MightyText allows me to respond to texts from Gmail, schedule texts to be sent at a later time, and handle texting from my laptop or computer. I love the Pro version of this service. As a pastor, I get a chance to meet people from all over the world, so this app helps me handle our increasingly popular reliance on text messaging.
iA Writer is my go-to writing and sermon outlining software. I write in a format for the internet called markdown, and iA Writer gives me clean interface from which to write. Think of it as the exact opposite of Microsoft Word or Mac Pages. Clean, simple, and straightforward, I love it for a distraction-free writing and editing environment.
Audible is well known by now, but I love it so much I gotta put it on the list. Books, man, books. For me, some books are meant to be read, but other books are perfect for listening. Audible does me right.
Covenant Eyes has improved a lot in 2017, with better iOS capabilities than before. But their Android app is off the hook good. If you want to have internet accountability in your life, give Covenant Eyes a go. Our Calvary Monterey staff has been blessed by it for years.
Hemingway is a Mac app I use for editing articles or books I’m writing. It helps you create straightforward, intelligible sentences, rather than flowery, complicated sentences. Some people don’t want to write like Ernest Hemingway, but some do. Personally, I like the straightforward style, so this app is helpful.
Grammarly is vital to my writing flow. Step one, write a rough draft. Step two, drop it into Grammarly. Step three, listen to Grammarly as it advises you on where you need to clean up your writing. Even if you aren’t a blogger or author, but just send out group emails from time to time, you should check this one out.
Flowstate is a writing application for maniacs. You enter in an amount of time (i.e., twenty minutes), hit enter, and it gives you a word processor with a twenty-minute timer in the upper right-hand corner. If you stop writing for ten full seconds it deletes all your work and — trust me — you will not find it anywhere on your machine. It helps you get into the writing flow state.
MindNode is my jam for mind mapping, dumping out a bunch of ideas and organizing them in a beautiful and tangled web of color and symbols that make sense of my brain. I use it primarily for creating a writing schedule each month and for sermon outlining.