My Top Productivity Apps in 2020 - Calm Achiever

In almost every GTD workshop I’ve facilitated, I get asked “Ali, what tools do you use?”

I hesitate to answer because I don’t want people to think its the tools that makes one productive. It’s how you use the tools. Remember, Leonardo Da Vinci just had paper and pencils to work with.

However, having said that tools do make a difference. I believe Leo would have been far more productive with an iPhone 😁.

So here the top tools that helps me be more productive.

💬 Communication

Slack

For a long time, email was the fastest way for me to communicate in writing. But these days, the volume of email I have to handle means it’s become my slowest way to communicate. Instant messaging apps are much faster.

This is where Slack comes in. It has completely replaced internal emails in Calm Achiever. It’s got a solid mobile app and very intuitive to use. It also supports our Holacracy practice with the integration with Glassfrog.

The free version is quite powerful, but if you want to explore the pro version, check out the special offer for teams in India: https://slack.com/intl/en-in/pricing.

Zoom

Zoom is my default app for calls, group meetings & Webinars. I’ve tried all the others: Skype, Hangouts, GoToMeeting. I’ve not seen any of them handle bandwidth issues the way Zoom does. It just works.

Superhuman

Ok, while Email is slow, it’s not dead. I had been using Gmail for almost 10+ years, but now I’ve switched to Superhuman. It’s a tool for serious email users who love to get to Inbox Zero without spending too much time.

Besides being faster than Gmail, it’s blazingly fast and comes with advanced features like insights from social networks, follow-up reminders and read statuses. It’s called Superhuman because it makes you feel like one 🙂 Message me if you want an invite.

🗄 Document-Management

Dropbox

Last year my laptop got stolen. 😲 It was a stressful time because it happened while I was traveling outside of India. But thanks to having all my files synced in Dropbox, I knew I didn’t lose any data. Almost instantly I was able to get back my digital life.

Evernote

All my digital notes get filed in Evernote. This is one of my most-used apps. I don’t just use it for storing notes, but actively use it to manage my projects. Check out this video where I give a tour of my Evernote setup.

Google Docs

You’re probably already using this. It’s become the standard for collaborating on documents and spreadsheets. I love how multiple people can edit the document “live”, view edit history and leave comments for each other. Perfect for teams who need to get work done asynchronously.

Google Photos

For a long time, I really struggled with managing my photos. Thanks to digital cams & smartphones, I would take a lot of pics, but it was a pain to backup, organize & retrieve them.

Google photos solved it all in one sweep. If you’re not using it, drop everything you’re doing and install it on your phone. Besides backing up your photos, this app makes it really easy to resurface the photos when you need them.

The face recognition and geolocation feature help you easily retrieve photos. I also love the AI feature of creating video albums.

Notion

This is a relatively new app and is taking the productivity world by storm. Search Notion on YouTube and you’ll see hundreds of videos of how people have created a digital dashboard of their life.

But that’s not how I use Notion. I just use it to manage my writing workflow.

I capture my ideas, allow it to incubate, develop on the interesting ones, and then post my best writing on Twitter, LinkedIn & Calm Achiever Blog.

✔ Task-Management

Trello

I often need to collaborate with people outside my team on projects. Trello is what I use to track them. It’s easy to use, visual & free.

Toodledo

ToodleDo is my primary GTD system. It’s where I track all my tasks & projects. is simple, robust & intuitive. I’ve been using it for 5 years.

However, I find the iPhone app cluttered. So instead I use 2Doapp.com on my iPhone, which syncs with my ToodleDo account.

Getdrafts

This is my primary capture tool. Anytime I have an idea, I type it in this app and it emails it to me or sends it to Evernote as a reference.

Glassfrog

I use Holacracy to structure my organization, and Glassfrog is the tool that helps me do it. It clarifies all the roles, accountabilities and who fills what role. Our team has tactical meetings in Glassfrog which we use to track metrics, checklists & project updates.

Dunzo

Dunzo is a delivery service, and if you live in Bengaluru, Dunzo has become a verb. Forgot your charger? Need to buy medicines? Just Dunzo it.

💡 Other Productivity Apps

1Password

For a long time, I was hesitant to have a cloud-based password manager, because of security reasons. But I tried it out, I realized how much time I’m saving (and also my digital life is more secure).

Readwise

If you read and highlight a lot on Kindle, then this is a must-have app. Most of the time I wouldn’t go back to my highlights, but thanks to this app it sends me an email digest of the best highlights once a week.

Coach.me

Accountability Coaching is the most powerful way to ensure things get done. Whenever I need to up my game, move beyond my comfort zone, I rely on coaching. Coaching can be expensive, but Coach.me makes it affordable.

Otter.ai

This app is just amazing at capturing & transcribing audio. It works like magic. I use it to transcribe important lectures I’m attending. I also use it to upload recordings of talks I’ve found interesting and get the transcription so that I can read through it and make note of parts that I may have missed out.

Breevy

Postal address, quick replies, Zoom meeting room, color codes etc. These things I find myself typing again and again. It’s kind of wasting my time. I use Breevy to create shortcuts to quickly expand frequently typed phrases.

Which Tools Do You Use?

So which is your favorite productivity tool? I would love to know. Please share in the comments below!