(Update: The awesome Ted Roden has just drawn my attention to Concentrate.app, which seems definitely worth a test drive.)
There’s a few different applications that really make a difference to my productivity at Betaworks. I thought I would share a few:
Partychat – Turning Gtalk into Yammer
One of the key issues that I’ve come across is a lack of transparency even in small teams. Information can often not find everyone it needs to and sometimes the person with the answer is not the one you might have thought of. I initially used Yammer to try and surface a lot of these conversations, but it was always one more medium of communications to layer on to a team and didn’t seem to gain much traction. Despite the name, Partychat has made a real difference in keeping everyone up to speed. It basically adds group chat functionality to Gtalk (which I use in Adium) and it’s where we have most of our conversations even those that would normally by one-to-one. The advantage here is being able to insert a transparent way of communicating into mediums that people are already using and it’s well worth a try.
At last years Social Foo, Pivotal Tracker was the tool we all thought was our secret until we realized the others were all using it too. Quite simply, it’s the best tool for managing an agile product development process I’ve found, and it’s free!
I use the Fluid Single-Site Browser to turn a lot of web applications into desktop apps. Having Gcal, Mindmeister, Pivotal and Google Docs as separate applications rather than tabs in a browser has made them easier to manage and I’m sure I’m more productive.
Omnifocus & OmniOutliner
Some people prefer the somewhat simpler Things as their To-Do list manager of choice, but I am an omnifocus addict and can’t see myself moving. Omnifocus enables you to manage tasks by project or by context. I make heavy use of omnifocus’s perspectives tool, which enables me to filter through to the most apposite tasks for the day, whether it’s due soon or just tasks that I estimate will take me less than 30 minutes. Also, everyone I work with has their own context so I know exactly what I have to cover with them every time we meet. Take a look at the helpful tutorials on the omnifocus site.
The one issue with omnifocus can be when it starts to become a note-taker rather than task manager. To avoid that I also use OmniOutliner. It’s hierarchical document structure means that I can keep almost all the information on each of the companies in one document. Meeting Notes, product roadmaps, brainstorms, basically everything that is useful information but not an actionable task goes in here.
1Password: An awesome password and other secure information manager. With one click I can fill in forms on the web and use ultra secure unique passwords without having to worry about remembering them.
Apimac Timer: I use this countdown timer to give myself sprints of productivity. It helps you realize just how much you can get done in the ten minutes before that meeting if you focus.
Skitch: I love this free tool for taking screenshots and marking them up. Absolutely invaluable.
Scrivener and Ommwriter: I’ve used Scrivener for years and it’s a great app for getting real writing done. Full-screen editing and great organisation features. Recently, I’ve also been enjoying Ommwriter as a new and peaceful way to focus on the task at hand.
Let me know what other tools you use.