Productivity

My Ultimate Productivity Stack 2021

7 Essential Apps

On my Youtube channel, I introduced lots of cool apps and tools I like. Every one of them is incredibly useful, but there are some apps that are absolutely essential to my life.

Mymind: Saving Ideas

The first one is mymind. I've already talked about this app many times before, but it's worth keep mentioning it because it's an app that works like our brains more than any other apps do.

Mymind is essentially an AI powered bookmark apps where you can save anything you want to remember. I use this app as my Idea Storage and a part of my note-taking system.

As the name suggests, this app is like your external mind to save things you don't want to forget, including websites, pictures, tweets, videos, pdfs and texts. I explained how I use this app in detail before, so I won't go into detail. If you're interested in a proper review of the app, please watch this video.

But the way I use is that I simply save things I like from the Internet so I can see them later again. You can save items either from your browser using their Chrome extension or from your phone using their mobile app. Both of them work really well. You can see what you saved on your phone or on your browser.

So far, it might sound like just a normal bookmark app. But what's amazing about mymind is the automatic tagging feature. Unlike most of the bookmark apps where you have to assign tags manually to each item, mymind does that automatically.

When you save an item, its AI analyses the content and give it relevant tags. This way, you can easily find the items you need from your mind. For example, if I save this article to my mind, it will analyses what's inside and generates relevant tags. Then you can search for it with the tags.

Roam: Distilling and Synthesising Ideas

The second app in my productivity stack is Roam Research. If mymind is my idea storage, Roam is my idea factory – it's where I distill information and create and develop new ideas. I use Roam primarily for studying and writing which is like 50% of my job.

I usually read things I saved in mymind, make highlights, bring them into Roam and make notes using the Zettelksten note-taking method. Then I use these notes to make blog posts and videos.

I find Roam great for writing because I can see multiple notes in the side bar as a reference.

Also, I can use the block referencing to pull blocks anywhere from my knowledge base.

Then, use "replace with" to modify it or rewrite it or turn it into an alias.

This is incredibly useful because it makes writing so much easier while connecting ideas at the same time. For instance, it only took me like 30 minutes to make this first draft of a video script using block referencing.

Also, I use Roam Spaced Repetition for studying new things and remembering pretty much anything I don't want to forget – things like my friend's birthday, key takeaways from books, one sentence summary of my notes, Spanish vocabulary or cooking recipes.

There are many amazing note-taking apps out there, but I chose Roam because most of them don't have these features which are critical to my work at this point. Also because of its community of amazing people too!

Amplenote: Task Management and Planning

For managing tasks and schedule, I use Amplenote. Now I know it sounds like another note-taking app, but it's actually much more than that.

Of course you can take notes and make bidirectional links like in Roam, but the reason why I use this app is that it's got such a sophisticated task management system and a great mobile app.

I use Amplenote for managing my tasks and planning my day and week. I talked about this process in my recent video, but at the beginning of each week, I have a look at my calendar and task list and make a schedule for each day. What I love about this is that you can easily do time-blocking just by drag-and-dropping.  

Another way I use this app is for planning projects. It's kind of like how people use Notion.

Under the project tag, I have a bunch of notes; each of them is a project like launching an online course or planning my girlfriend's birthday. And in each note, I can make a detailed plan and make tasks if necessary. Then I can schedule the tasks into my calendar to get them done.

Recently I get lots of questions about why I don't  just use Roam for task management. Yes, ideally I want to use just one app like Swiss Army knife. But sadly that doesn't exist. Roam cannot offer task management and scheduling system as polished as this one.

Plus, Amplenote has a great mobile app which you can open instantly without a long loading screen like in Roam and Notion. This is very important for me because I want to be able to check my schedule and tasks on the go easily without having to wait for ages every time.  

Refind and Mailbrew: Collecting information

Now, let's talk about collecting information. For knowledge workers like myself, learning new things and collecting quality information is crucial. The quality of inputs affects the quality of your outputs.

For a long time, I've been using Refind and Mailbrew. Refind is similar to apps like Feedly. It curates articles and videos from your favourite websites and blogs. But what's unique about this app is that it selects only handful of items that it thinks you like based on its algorithm.

Every morning, I get 20 links that are relevant to my interests. I find this helpful because this way I don't get overwhelmed by a long list of unread articles like I did with Feedly.

Mailbrew is a similar curating app, but not just for articles, but also for popular tweets and top links from your Twitter timeline, the best new products from ProductHunt, the current price of cryptocurrency, newsletters you're subscribed to, new videos from your favourite Youtubers and so on.

You will receive a daily briefing like this every morning so you stay updated.

What's great about Mailbrew is its customisability. You can include lots of different things in your daily briefing, and you can even share your brew with other people.

If you don't want to use multiple apps for getting information, or if you want to stay updated with minimum amount of time, Mailbrew is the one choice for you.

Forest and Brain FM: Focusing and Deep Work

Finally, I want to talk about my favourite tools to help you focus.

The first tool is Forest. I think everyone already knows about this app. It's a focus timer app with gamification elements. You plant a tree and focus for a period of time. If you leave the app, you fail and the tree will wither. It's super simple, but I love the design, it's fun to use, and very cheap too.

Forest becomes even more powerful with Brain FM. It's a functional music app to improve your concentration. It has a wide range of music designed to help you get in the zone.

I was very skeptical of this kind of app, but after trying it out I find myself focusing better and longer. Since then, I always use it whenever I work, study, relax or sleep.

My most favourite way of preparing for deep work is:  

1. schedule an hours-long time block in the morning in Amplenote

2. set a focus timer for 25 minutes in Forest,

3. play deep work music in Brain FM and

4. get to work!

Personally, this routine works like a charm and I get a lot of things done every time.

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