This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
In the last weeks and months, but especially since the lockdowns imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can read in all media about programs that you absolutely need and that make your remote life much easier. Since I like to deal with productivity apps privately, I follow these debates partly with humour, partly with some anger, since the Corona crisis is being pushed forward to make a profit. Let me briefly describe my setting that I used until recently:
- Evernote to record and manage my notes
- pCloud as my cloud storage
- Todoist as my ToDo List Manager
At the same time, you can find the most controversial opinions, the most contradictory tests on the Internet and experience the maximum marketing power that will confuse you more than it will help you find a reliable system.
Just a few examples:
- The development of Evernote is stagnating and has taken far too long
- Technical progress is no longer visible and alternatives overtake the top dog
- The danger with “newcomers” is that they may initially provide interesting functionalities that they could later disable. The disadvantage and negative effect would then lie with the user. Instead, one should rely on the programs that have been around for many years.
You can already see that this point is different from the previous one.
- With Todoist you can do all tasks that come up within my work – you just have to buy my online course with it. Costs only once $39.
- If you want to work as a remote team during Corona time, then buy Asana – everything else is not usable. Besides, no one is as beginner friendly as this product. But you have to buy a minimum number of licenses – there is no single license.
- Roam Research develops the new and much better Evernote. If you want access, you have to answer questions about different topics and categories in advance. Or do it like a user who already has an account – auction it off! If you still manage to get through the hurdle and get an account, you’ll have to pay a whopping $15 per month. Or $500 for 5 years. No other pricing models available.
This can be quite confusing. You, me, all of us. I’d like to give you a tip on what programs I’ve been using since May 2020 and why I chose to do it.
Up to now Evernote was my application to capture and manage notes. After the headlines about Evernote made me a bit insecure, I wanted to check alternatives on the market and got stuck with Notion. The tool is not just a note app in the classic sense – it’s a powerful tool for mapping – everything. You can create your own environment. No limits are set for you. Are you limited by the hierarchy level of Evernote? No problem in Notion. I’ve been using it for this blog as a test. It offers mark-down, direct integration of images via www.unsplash.com and it’s super easy to authorize an external user, in this case my wife for the review. If only I would do my blog – it would be this! tool. The problem with a program that can do everything is that it can’t do anything perfect either. So I have concentrated on how I use notes:
- I want to be able to quickly file pages from the Internet
- The search for notes must be fast and good
- Keywords (tags) are secondary, but it would be good if you could use them at a later time if necessary
- The software has to be on the market for a long time, so that my notes are in good hands there for the next years (or the company will not be taken over by Microsoft or Google)
Since May 2020 I have been using: Evernote (again) – but I decided to use the free basic solution. Small update: Since I find the idea of using the programs that come with the operating system interesting, I’m checking the Apple internal solution “Apple Notes” at the same time. As you can see, it might have already changed again in my next article. The approach is interesting for me in so far as it ensures that the manufacturer of your notes app does not go bankrupt.
Here I switched from pCloud to the Apple solution “iCloud”. Since I use a MacBook Pro privately, I have found that the online storage is seamlessly integrated into the Apple operating system and the systems are perfectly matched. A third-party provider is therefore no longer necessarily advantageous. Both cloud storages also offer end-to-end encryption, which means that the provider of this service cannot read, view or modify your data.
For almost 3 years I have been using Todoist, which was able to meet almost all requirements perfectly. The design is very nice and minimalistic, the task entry is fast and easy. You can adapt filters to your own needs, the use of tags is a bonus on top. Due to my extended function as a manager, which includes to a certain percentage the controlling of tasks of team members, Todoist unfortunately reached its limits. Or rather, I realized that my method of organizing my tasks (and those of my colleagues) is difficult to map in Todoist. After many tests, among others with the above mentioned Asana, Trello, Wrike, Monday, I became aware of ClickUp. My requirements as team leader for this tool were
- There should be a possibility for collaboration
- Gantt diagrams for project management would be advantageous
- List view and simultaneously board view (Kanban)
- Not too expensive (although I would recommend investing the money if it can save time)
- Filter and sort tasks according to the following criteria:
- The due date should be displayed in ascending order in the list
- If several tasks are due on one day, I would like to have an ascending order of priority (the priority determines which tasks I do in the morning, afternoon and evening)
- All other tasks, should be displayed in ascending order of their creation date
- I need to be able to forward emails directly to the tool so that a task is automatically created for me
ClickUp is a powerful tool and similar to Notion, you can get lost in it. ClickUp advertises on the homepage itself that this tool can replace all others. My advice to you: Just start! Start with a simple list in which you enter all tasks – private and professional. After some time, you will naturally expand your system and start separating tasks. You have one list for private and one for professional tasks. After a further phase, you structure your business todos, e.g. into team tasks, tasks you have to do as an executive and tasks that are important for your backlog. But again: Just start. Everything else comes gradually. What continues to convince me about ClickUp is that you offer a transparent price offer right from the start that already offers a single license. Asana? No chance – you have to pay for 5 seats and de facto only need one. Since Corona the pricing model has been adjusted: to at least 2 seats. Don’t you find that a bit strange?
In ClickUp every user has the possibility to deposit his wishes to the software. In the so-called “Feature Request” you can see if your idea is also interesting for other users and which innovations are planned.
The development team is extremely ambitious, which on the other hand scares me a bit, because my fear is that too fast development could have a negative impact on a sustainable architecture. Nevertheless, my wishes and requirements for the software were fulfilled for half of the money. A wizard for creating automated processes has now been added. At the same time I don’t want to hide the fact that I also purchased the premium license from ClickUp. ClickUp is a powerful tool of which I know only a fraction. The original use of the Gantt chart for project management, I have reduced to displaying milestones, but that’s no problem. Currently I am testing the target planning in the tool. This too in a first phase in a simple form. Maybe I’ll expand the whole thing later, when I see that there is a need. You should definitely give the program a chance and if you are maybe looking for a good team project management tool, then get over yourself and give the underdog a chance. Maybe this underdog will overtake the sometimes dusty and snobby competition.
In earlier articles I have written that it makes sense not to constantly jump between programs. Therefore you should only consider a change if:
- you lack the appropriate functionality in the current program
- Better collaboration with other applications in your organization
- Complicated use and high learning curve to learn or master the software
- If your organizational situation changes, such as switching from notebooks to tablets, remote work
- The workflow of your processes is more efficient with another tool