Words by Tommy ParkerOctober 11, 2016
Post updated April 2020
I’m a sucker for apps. There’s something satisfying about knowing how much time you save using them. So if like me, you enjoy using tools to increase your productivity, then keep reading to find out some gems I use. Though I’ve mentioned in the title that these apps improve a design workflow, they can be applied to many other professions.
Milanote is a tool for organizing your creative projects into beautiful visual boards. Created to replicate the feeling of working on a wall in a creative studio – visual, tactile and sometimes a bit messy – Milanote is a great fit for freelancers in both the marketing and design spaces. Milanote has heaps of built-in templates to help you get started with a variety of different projects, from creating a moodboard to set out the visual direction for a project, to writing that perfect creative brief. Its sharing features make it a great option for those who regularly provide work to clients for feedback.
Milanote’s basic plan is available for free with no time-limit.
Available for Sketch and Photoshop
Flowing content into designs can be a very laborious task. Luckily, Craft does all that work for you. By simply adding a site URL, Dropbox/local folder, or using the suggested Unsplash service, you can flow images and/or text into your designs with a click. Pretty neat, right?
Add on for Mac Mail
Spending too much emailing and not enough time designing? Mailbutler will ease your troubles. Snooze, follow-up reminders, email tracking and scheduling are all nifty features that’ll keep clients at bay whilst you’re creating.
Available for iOS
Whilst we’re on the topic of email, check out Spark – it will change your life for the better. Not only can you have a smart mailbox that manages your pinned and unread emails, you can set up your own widgets and shortcuts to make an interface that suits you. There’s also a Mac app in the works so you’ll soon be able to ditch the awful default Mac app.
Available for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac
Contrary to Piers’ project management tool of choice, Trello, I’m more of a Todoist kind of guy. Deadlines, admin tasks and shopping. Keeping tabs on all these can get frustratingly distracting. Luckily, Todoist is a brilliant app that lets me have countless lists of tasks with the added functionality of deadlines, filters, tags and geo location notifications (for example, I could have it notify me to buy some office materials when I’m near my local stationers). I can also order it to have lists within lists, which makes it extremely handy for groups lists by category. With apps for multiple devices, this one is well worth getting.
Available for iOS and Mac
Spending too much time organising your time is rather ironic. And Fantastical is what you’d expect from a calendar app. But as well as doing the usual bits and displaying everything beautifully, it has the ability to quickly add events using smart natural language. So, for example, by typing ‘Meeting with Sam at 10 on Sunday’, the app will enter it in as an event with those details already entered. Not bad, eh?
Available for Mac
If you are one to always lose files and have inconsistent folder formats (yes, I’m looking at you ‘Final_FinalArtworkv3.2′), then Post Haste is a great push in the right direction. This app allows you to set up file structure templates that you can use across all your projects. So rather than having to create folders for ‘Briefs’, ’Roughs’ and the countless other folders you apparently need to be able to find files again, you can create them all in an instant, as many times as you want.
And there we have it. Some of the most useful apps I have at my disposal.
Did I miss any or do you have a killer app that you want to share? Comment below!