I’m a big fan of productivity. I’m just not naturally very good at it. Mostly because I have the curse of the writer’s mindset. That means I’m usually staring out windows when I should be working and I’m always forgetting what I was working on (or should be working on) because an exciting new idea has come along.
So, I need a little help in the productivity department. Luckily there are tons of tools out there to help us helpless writers with better time management and productivity. I’ve already featured some tools in my post “5 Must-Have Productivity Tools for Writers“, but I thought I’d add a couple more here that I’ve lately fallen in love with.
I’d been on the fence for quite some time regarding a billing software, but when I came across Billings, I was sold. Prior to Billings I was using Excel to both track project times and to create invoices. It was fine, but it definitely wasn’t efficient or that professional looking. Billings changed that.
The great thing about Billings is that it’s customizable and native. So you can make your invoices look uniform and unique, and you don’t have to store your stuff on a cloud server and/or pay a monthly fee to use it.
Billings allows you to track your time easily by putting a timer on your top menu bar, which is awesome. It also allows you to put in auto-stop if you step away from your computer and forget to turn the timer off.
You can organize your clients and projects easily and create invoices based of project slips with one click. You can even email the invoice to your client from directly within Billings.
And because Billings is client based, you can see a snapshot of each client account, knowing how much you’ve billed, how much they’ve paid, and how much time you’ve spent on a client.
Lastly, Billings has a free iPhone app that syncs with the desktop program—or that can be used entirely independently.
I love Billings, and I’m not sure how I lived without it (but isn’t that the rub of technology?)
Because I balance multiple clients, projects, and people—including a fabulous wife and two great kids—it’s important for me to write down every to-do or else I’ll drop the ball. For a long time I used Evernote, but it was too clunky for task management. Luckily I came across Things, a dead-simple, yet perfect to-do program for the Mac. I still use Evernote for client meeting notes and research, but Things has become my default to-do list.
With Things you can schedule out your to-do’s, create reoccurring to-do’s, or even make someday to-do’s. Those to-do’s then go into your inbox, which you can then organize by folders: Today, Next, Scheduled, Someday, and even Project. That’s right you can have multiple to-do lists by project within the application’s single interface. The best part is that your to-do’s feed into your Today box on the date you specify. So when you get up in the morning, you can see all you have to do without needing to create a list each morning.
And one of my favorite features is the quick link button that brings up a window for inputting a to-do. You can then drag emails or files into the to-do for quick reference without having to minimize the work your plodding away at. Sounds unassuming, but believe me, it’s awesome.
Things also has an iPhone app that syncs with the desktop version, and it can also synch with your iCal.
At the end of the day, Things has saved my bacon many times over. It was well worth the investment.
As a side note, both these programs, Billings and Things, are Mac only. I’m sure many of you are PC users. Have you come across programs that make you more productive? If so, share them here. Because a productive ghost is a happy ghost.
[Photo by gothick_matt]