By Tom Twardzik
Sometimes, the difference between a successful day of work and a frustrating one is a set of efficient, uncomplicated tools. For someone working from home or otherwise away from the office, the primary tool set is often a computer. A standard word processor, a default email client and the desktop sticky notes might be enough to complete your tasks, but a more personalized and powerful desktop will boost your productivity and overhaul your creative process. The Mac apps below highlight the best ways to upgrade your tool set for a more efficient home or remote office.
What are some of the most basic actions you perform on your computer? Copy-and-paste and resizing and arranging windows. Saving a fraction of a second every time you perform these actions adds up quickly, and several apps will help you do that.
Magnet has been at the top of the paid apps chart for months. This $0.99 utility gives your desktop more than a dozen shortcuts for resizing and arranging the windows on your screen. Whether you're on an 11" laptop or a 27" iMac, Magnet snaps any window into size and position with a number of keyboard shortcuts. It makes decluttering your digital workspace much simpler than decluttering your desk will ever be.
iPaste is another must-have utility that lives in the background and automatically stores your recent clipboard. It saves what you ask it to save and makes it available in a pop-up menu through a keyboard shortcut. And it does it for free. So you can copy three separate sentences of an article and paste them separately instead of flipping back and forth between windows, copying and pasting three times.
It's the little things.
Idea-sketching and planning
There are hundreds of brainstorming, note-taking and to-do list apps available on and off the app store, but there are few standouts who do it all in one. Fed up with Evernote's subscription model but still willing to pay? Try Notability, the Mac version of iPad's ultimate idea space. Type, draw, annotate, record audio, add photos and PDFs—it does everything. For $10 and no subscription, it'll quickly replace all of Evernote's functionalities.
Or, for a free alternative, go for Microsoft's OneNote. The only catch here is that you'll have to create a (free) Microsoft account. OneNote offers a toolset similar to Notability (if a bit less polished and more… Microsoft). It offers a powerful notation space, especially for anyone already in the Microsoft ecosystem.
For a more structured planning app, Agenda is a great alternative to Trello. It's a date-focused notes/journal combination that incorporates your calendar to offer a to-do list, note space and calendar on one screen. Seeing previously completed to-dos and past dates in the same line as future events is surprisingly helpful. It adds temporal context to every glance at your upcoming tasks and notes. $25 gets you all of the synching and exporting features not included in the free app.
Maybe you're looking for a pure, simple, full-featured, free to-do list to replace Todoist, Things or any of the other paid or subscription-based apps out there. Enter Wunderlist. Not only does it offer all of the features of the others for free (including sync, subtasks and an Apple Watch app), but it has collaboration features, too. Use it to manage all of your own projects or set up your coworkers or family with access to shared lists to split up the workload.
Speaking of collaborating, you might be searching for a change in routine to boost creativity or energize your team. A new app could be the solution, a replacement for Slack or Trello or Google Drive. Try Notion. It's a free, universal notes/to-dos/wiki app that works on desktop, mobile or in-browser on any computer. You can work offline, sync between devices, invite your team to workspaces and collaborate in real time. It looks great, too. There is a paid pro tier that removes limits on card numbers and upload sizes, but the free version has plenty of features for a small team.
Collaborating with a small team is easy with an app like Notion, but email still dominates working from home or out of office. It's often a necessary drudge, but make it easier on yourself with Spark. This free email app from Readdle offers features like email snooze, send scheduling, swipe shortcuts, pinned messages, tons of smart folder options and more, all with the goal of reaching Inbox Zero. Spark wants to change your habits from leaving thousands of old, unread messages in your inbox to archiving or deleting those messages and leaving only the messages you need in your inbox or in a folder. The snooze feature, alone, makes it worth downloading.
All of these time-saving productivity apps lead to one thing: the work. Two app highlights are worth mentioning: Be Focused and iA Writer.
Be Focused is a tiny timer app that lives in the menu bar as a stopwatch icon. Set the timer and ��click start, and the app simply counts down. It doesn't block social media or lock you into a writing screen like other apps. It is not a restriction or a monitor, but a reminder to break up your work into blocks and take short breaks in between those blocks. You'll see that this psychological trick helps quite a bit.
iA Writer is an essential tool for anyone whose work involves a significant amount of writing. It presents a beautiful, simple, powerful, Markdown-compatible writing space and brags a feature called "Focus Mode." When you enable it, this mode dims all of the text that is not the current sentence (or paragraph, or whatever you choose) so that your eyes remain on the current thought. It drives the work forward by avoiding the editing-while-writing quicksand. iA Writer can also highlight syntax in different colors, revealing your love of adverbs or repetitive verb use. And it has "Night Mode," a white-on-black theme that saves the eyes during late-night projects.
In the end, the work is up to you. But you can help yourself finish projects more quickly and efficiently with the help of the apps above.
Tom Twardzik is a writer covering personal finance, productivity and investing for Paypath. He also contributes pop culture reviews for Popdust and travel writing for The Journiest. Read more on his website and follow him on Twitter.
The tech industry's having a tough time. Only months ago, those who were bragging about their hot tech jobs and (seemingly) hyper-performing Crypto portfolios are probably screaming, crying, gnashing their teeth, and throwing up. And they may or may not be unemployed.
First, the recession is obliterating the stock market as we speak. Then, the summer Crypto proved the “decentralized marketplace” isn’t as impervious as Crypto nerds claimed. And now, the entire tech industry is facing a serious reckoning. It’s meltdown season — and Mercury isn’t even in retrograde.
First, Elon Musk bought Twitter. He subsequently fired a staggering number of employees. He then instituted Twitter Blue, a verification subscription which was a spectacular FAILURE. Most notably, causing the stock price of every significant insulin company to plummet by BILLIONS. It’s a long story, but the takeaway: the best $8 some random Twitter user ever spent.
Meanwhile, major tech companies like Meta, Salesforce, Redfin — and more — have been laying off thousands of employees. Wave after wave of layoffs are tearing through the entire tech sector, leaving thousands bamboozled and bereft. And this — alllll this — is happening while Jeff Bezos is giving away his money to Dolly Parton. I love her, but she has a theme park. These people don’t have jobs!
But this is nothing compared to the drama going on at former-Crypto giant FTX. And somehow, Tom Brady and Gisele are implicated!?! First, the divorce, now this.
Here’s a simplified version of events — and you don’t even need to understand crypto to follow along.
The Super Bowl: The true origins can be traced back to the Super Bowl, where much ad time was devoted to emergent crypto companies vying for the attention of potential investors. Among them: FTX.
January 2022: FTX was valued at an estimated $32 billion. They even had an NBA stadium named after them in Miami. But most prominently, their now infamous Super Bowl ad starring Larry David, who had never appeared in a commercial before. Just imagine that shoot. You should’ve stuck to your guns, Larry.
Don't Miss Out on Crypto: Larry David FTX Commercial www.youtube.com
Nov 2: The real drama started — as it always does — with some shady trades. CoinDesk published a report that exposed that Alameda Research – owned by the same people as FTX – had bought a ton of FTT … FTX’s cryptocurrency.
Nov 6: In a Tweet, the founder of Binance — one of FTX’s biggest competitors — said their company was going to dump their FTX tokens "due to recent revelations that have came to light." Investors panicked and followed suit. And so began the FTT price plummet.
But with all their investors cashing in their coins, FTX was on the hook for all that money — which it could not afford to pay out. This is when things started to look really hairy.
Nov 8: With their tails between their legs, FTX went to Binance for an out. Binance agreed to acquire FTX.
Nov 9: Just kidding! Whatever was in those docs must have scared off Binance because they pulled out of the deal just a day later. Does this feel like an episode of Succession to you, too?
Nov. 11: FTX had no way to repay all this money. And any potential buys were not going anywhere near this dumpster fire. So FTX was forced to file for bankruptcy. 30-year-old CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried resigned.
He tweeted that he was “really sorry,” though! SO maybe that counts for something. Cue the world’s tiniest violin playing in the background.
\u201cFun fact:\n\nIf you spent $1,000 shorting the 2022 Super Bowl advertisers, you'd be a billionaire today:\n\n\u25ab\ufe0f FTX\n\u25ab\ufe0f Carvana\n\u25ab\ufe0f DraftKings\n\u25ab\ufe0f Uber Eats\n\u25ab\ufe0f Meta Oculus\n\u25ab\ufe0f Rocket Mortgage\n\u25ab\ufe0f Coinbase\n\u25ab\ufe0f Vroom\n\u25ab\ufe0f Salesforce\n\u25ab\ufe0f GM\u201d— Chris Bakke (@Chris Bakke) 1667931782
But there’s more!
Later that day, reports emerged that FTX transferred $10 BILLION to Alameda — the same sister company mentioned above. That’s right, the one that started this mess — sparking controversy about how much access top leaders had to the company's finances.
Nov 13: Where’s the money? New reports reveal that those BILLIONS of dollars had just … disappeared?
Nov 14: Now the cops are involved. Where the hell is the money, man? Regulators are trying to get to the bottom of this, while looking into criminal liabilities.
Nov 16: Here comes the class action. Defendants are suing FTX’s Bankman-Fried for misleading information. But the walls are now closing in on celebrities who appeared in FTX commercials, including Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Stephen Curry, Larry David, and Shaquille O’Neal.
"FTX’s fraudulent scheme was designed to take advantage of unsophisticated investors from across the country, who utilize mobile apps to make their investments," the lawsuit alleges. "As a result, American consumers collectively sustained over $11 billion dollars in damages.”
There you have it. But don’t hold your breath — there’s more to come, I’m sure. In fact, the documentary is already in the works
And if you still don’t follow, here are some TikToks tracking the drama:
SBF bears a striking resemblance to Bernard Madoff. #money #crypto #ftx #finance #sbf #news #binance #alameda #bitcoin #ethereum #ftt #coin #cryptocurrency
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed www.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight: