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Emma Bostian ✨
Emma Bostian ✨

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Top 3 Tools For Boosting Your Productivity

"How do you get so much done?" This is a question I receive several times a week. And up until today my answer was always the same: "I'm struggling to keep my head above water."

I have an absurd amount of commitments. Here are just a few of the things I'm actively engaged in:

And between all of this, I tried to find time to travel, spend time with family and friends, learn German, and relax.

Needless to say, I was a bit scatterbrained. Thus, I decided to get my sh*t together and get organized.

Here are my top three tools which helped me get my life together and get more done.

Note: I use a Mac book, so the apps I'm recommending may work differently (or not be available) across other operating systems.


Notion has always been a tool I admired, but was frankly terrified of using. While the interface seems minimalist and user-friendly, the app is extremely robust.

Thus, I finally watched a YouTube tutorial to develop an effective workflow.

Create A Workspace Architecture

The first step was to take a piece of paper and sketch out my ideal workspace. I broke it down into eight categories:

  • Long-term goals
  • Short-term goals
  • Upcoming week
  • Vacation plans
  • Logistics & information
  • Conferences
  • Notes
  • Blogs


Within each of these sections, I have a multitude of pages. For example, underneath my Conference section, I have a page which contains an overarching list of all conferences I'll speak at, and their logistics. I also have subsequent pages for each of the three conference talks I have to develop. This helps me chunk relevant information together.

List of conferences

To-Do Lists

I decided to use Notion for my to-do lists as well. At the top of my workspace, I created a color-coded legend for different side projects. This allows me to quickly search for specific tasks.

Notion todo list


Although Notion isn't my main calendar app, it's nice to include a calendar view alongside my other tasks, just to remind me of any important commitments I have coming up.


Notion also has a mobile app, so I can keep track of my to-dos and documents across all of my devices.

Mobile app


You can use the free version of Notion, but I pay for the Personal Account. For $4 per month, I get a few more features to help me stay organized.

Notion pricing


I have an absurd amount of email addresses. Between getting married and starting several side projects, I actively use six email addresses (yes, I'm insane, I know.)

So it was important for me to find an email application which can combine all of my addresses, while filtering out all the crap I don't care about.

Enter Spark.

Spark is an amazing email application, and I won't be switching back to anything else.


I love how Spark groups my Personal emails from my Notifications, Newsletters, and Pins (although they do have the catch-all classic inbox style if you're into that kind of torture.)

There's also a mobile app, which you can download for free.

Mobile app


  • Smart inbox, which chunks emails by topic
  • Smart search (which works incredibly)
  • Email snoozing
  • Email scheduling
  • Email signatures
  • Reminder follow-up


I use the free edition of Spark,which gets me:

  • 5GB of storage
  • 2 active collaborators
  • 5 email templates 
  • Standard link sharing

You can also upgrade to Premium for $6.39 per active user (billed annually) or $7.99 billed monthly.

Spark pricing

Fantastical 2

I've tried many calendar apps, and for some reason I always have trouble syncing my multitude of calendars across them.

Due to the fact that I have six email addresses (and associated calendar meeting invites with all of them), I needed an app which could gracefully combine them all.

My co-worker, Kahlil Lechelt, was using Fantastical, and I was immediately drawn to the UI. It's a gorgeous and easy-to-use application that looks quite similar to Apple calendar.


They also include a light and dark theme.

Light theme

Fantastical makes it really easy to add new calendar events and meetings. You simply start typing, select the date and time, and you're good to go. You can even select which email address you want to associate this event with.

New event


Admittedly, Fantastical is a bit pricey, but I've found it to be worth the money. It's €54.99 for a one-time purchase, and that allows you to download across multiple Mac books. You also have to pay $4.99 for the mobile app, which is a bit of a bummer if you've already paid for the desktop application.


Other Notable Productivity Tools


Grammarly is a great tool that helps you with your English grammar and spelling.

There is a free browser extension as well as a desktop application.

Grammarly's free version allows you to catch grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, but if you're looking for more robust features, the premium account offers many more including:

  • Inconsistent writing style
  • Unclear sentence structure
  • Overused words
  • Ineffective vocabulary
  • Hedging language
  • Impoliteness
  • Insensitive or non-inclusive language
  • Inappropriate tone or formality level
  • Plagiarism

You can choose to pay monthly at €26.87 or annually which totals €10.46 per month.


Lightshot Screenshot

I use Lightshot Screenshot for all of my screenshot needs. It allows me to take quick screenshots and annotate them in-context.

It works on Mac and Windows, and it's free!

Lightshot screenshot


Spectacle is great for moving and resizing windows on your computer. Not much else to say, except it's free!



I recently discovered TweetDeck for scheduling tweets and siphoning out the noise of Twitter. It saves me a ton of time!
Tweet deck

What are your favorite productivity applications? Leave them down below!

Top comments (108)

matthias profile image
Matthias 🤖

I use LanguageTool since it was recommended to me here. It also offers extension for Firefox, Chrome, Google Docs, MS Word, ... but is a bit cheaper compared to Grammarly.

It also has some easter eggs 😉:

amejiarosario profile image
Adrian Mejia

Oh, I didn't know about this one. I was using Grammarly and Hemmingway. I'll check this one out!
Loved the easter eggs :)

alabamashero profile image

I know this comment is old now but if you haven't tried QuillBot for Chrome \ Windows, etc. then you should give it a try. I use the free version and it corrects all errors in a single click.

madza profile image

hahah, lol xdd
i wonder if the guys from grammarly have seen these xdd

yevgalis profile image

Notion is a great tool, but I was spending more time organizing my workspace rather than getting things done. It's a challenging tool for perfectionists 😅. I find Trello, TickTick (todo app) and Standard Notes enough for my workflow.

securibee profile image
securibee 🐝

I agree. For me managing notion is a job in itself. When I bought a year subscription I was very excited but I couldn't maintain it.

For now I use TickTick and still looking for a note app. I'll give Standard Notes a try.

I use Toggle to track my time.

Bookmarking is done by Pinboard, I've just started using this so don't have any tips.

yevgalis profile image

Standard Notes is good, but not the best note taking app. The reason I use it because notes are encrypted. I don't have any sensitive information, but I believe in online privacy and try to support people/companies/etc. who fight for it.

ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

I wish they would make it open-source, I feel like it would unlock so much potential. They have been talking about releasing a public API for many months and have it near the top of their roadmap, but won't say anything about it. It was fun for a minute, but I kept hitting walls and it is another Electron app eating my memory.

dploeger profile image
Dennis Ploeger

I have now abandoned spark (and Airmail before), because of some missing mails and Spark's force to use mail threads (which I haaate)

But as I still do inbox zero I rely on for snoozing mail and landed in the arms of Mac Mail (and iOS mail respectively).

Never heard of notion, I may give it a try. Thanks, Emma.

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim seems super interesting. I should try it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

dploeger profile image
Dennis Ploeger

The good thing is, that it's completely client-agnostic.

Thread Thread
voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim

Right. When I saw it, I’m 😲.
”reply all” at the starting step(to get the options) was quite neat as well.

murkrage profile image
Mike Ekkel

I've been wanting to get up and running with Notion as I've heard great things about it! Like you, I've found actually getting started a daunting task because there's so much you can do with it. So thank you for the tutorial and showing me your setup! Definitely maybe going to set it up now or later today (see, I really need it).

Do you use some sort of time tracking? Or is time boxing your calendar enough?

emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨

I actually don't use any time tracking mechanism! I probably should... haha

hexrcs profile image
Xiaoru Li

I use TopTracker to do all my time tracking. It's designed for freelancers but I mainly use it for tracking my studying hours.

Also WakaTime has a nifty VSCode extension for tracking time spent on different projects, or languages. Now I know I spend most of my time on markdown files in my note-taking Gatsby repo instead of real programming. 🤣

wolf4earth profile image
Sascha Wolf 🌈 • Edited

I really like Timing for time tracking on Mac. It tracks what apps you use and you can assign apps to certain activities.

As such you can then pretty much automatically track on what you spend time during the day. It's nice because it simply does it's thing in the background. Ofc only for digital activities.

They have a trial, so check it out!

murkrage profile image
Mike Ekkel

I'd love to hear suggestions for one because I definitely should be using one 😂

Thread Thread
deadbeef404 profile image
Jason Pettett

Hey Mike,
I made an app specifically for timeboxing tasks/plans (especially if they repeat multiple times through a week). I’m not sure if that’s what you’re after, but I thought I’d mention it. Check it out at :)

I’m working on tonnes of new flexibility within the app (and some redesign work) so if it’s close to what you’re after, let me know what does/doesn’t work for you!


Thread Thread
murkrage profile image
Mike Ekkel

I'll check it out! Let you know what I think of it :). Thanks

Thread Thread
smeijer profile image
Stephan Meijer

I've used toggl for quite some time. Dead simple time tracking. And free plan available.

ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

I use Inkdrop for my MarkDown notes. If you set up a CouchDB instance, you have control over all of your data. I find it to be the most polished tool with sync capabilities.

I love org mode, but I don't know Emacs enough to stay productive with it. Something inevitably breaks and I realize I am spending more time messing around with Emacs than I am doing real work.

vicky209 profile image

I've been using Notion but it's just for personal use only. When it comes to team collaboration, I myself prefer Trello for Boards and Quire for infinite to-do lists. Quire is a relatively young team compared to Trello and Notion, but they have quite an impressive package of features.

Trello is good if you're a diehard fan of Kanban board but it's lack of a list option. I prefer Quire because they have the infinite list that you can add as many subtasks as you wish. Notion isn't very good for collaboration and tbh when it comes to a task management app, Notion is still very primitive compared to Quire.

As a designer myself, Quire impresses me with its minimalist interface. Everything looks clean and super intuitive. Kudos to their designer team!

nisajthani profile image
Nisa JThani

I started using Quire a few days ago and it's made a massive improvement in my productivity. Thank you so much for recommending it!

jaschwar profile image
Jesse Schwartz

I concur I have divorced myself from all proprietary note taking apps: Notion, Evernote, . . .

I use Markdown for notes and use Github private repos to back up. Then I can use Vim to my hearts content.

tasmto profile image

I love Forest which is in the vain of the Pomodoro technique which helps in increasing productivity when working by doing it in short bursts and resting in between. Basically for every time you complete a cycle you get to plant a virtual tree and every time you cancel a cycle you have a dead tree in your virtual forest and I find that so motivating. It also (at least on Android) blocks you from closing or switching to another app while the cycle is on unless you cancel the cycle which kills a tree (well; a virtual one but you get the gist).

yes... It's quite a cruel app but it's motivational as well so yea...

rooftopslushie profile image
Rooftop Slushie

I was looking for this comment! Didn't know growing a pretty garden was so satisfying and it's also a great environment-friendly app :)

tasmto profile image

Yeyyy, glad it helped you 😊😊😊. I should honestly try and use it more myself...

diegopulero profile image
diegopulero • Edited

I would love to know how did you achieve the Medium -> Instapaper -> Kindle automation. Does it work with the Medium mobile app? I've been trying to do this for a while now.

EDIT: I just found how :) , link:

kevtiq profile image
Kevin Pennekamp

Love your suggestions. My list is:

  • todoist for todos;
  • Evernote for long term notes;
  • Spark for email;
  • AI writer for writing;
  • Fantastical for the calendar.

For checking my writing, I also use grammerly, and combined.

areahints profile image

i use plugin for markdown in wordpress, I've gotten used to always typing in markdown (GitHub,Trello,Dev,reddit) and frankly felt slow when using WordPress to write.

Trello is still my number 1 baby, but I also recently configured wekan on my server so I can have a backup, pretty similar - a few bugs.

Grammarly free + Hemingway writer is what I use if i need my writing edited. I use quillbot to rearrange sentences that are considered hard to read and edubirdie for plagiarism checks.

pymato is a cli python pomodoro logger. Useful for me. I use bluemail for email.

Buffer for Instagram, Tweetdeck for Twitter, schedule for the week then forget.

navidos profile image
Navid Mirzaie Milani

Nice list of recommendations Emma, tnx for sharing. My personal problem is trying to getting focused and stay focus. For tools i use (which has a implemented promodoro timer) Its is totally free.

rahulchowdhury profile image
Rahul Chowdhury 🕶

Have you tried Todoist, Emma?

I have been using it for a long time and it's hands down the best to-do list app that I have ever used.

emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨

I have been meaning to try it :)

rahulchowdhury profile image
Rahul Chowdhury 🕶

You should give it a try. Let me know if you need my help with tips and tricks. 😁

olivier32621338 profile image
Olivier Chauvin

I guess if you like Todoist, you might also like Workflowy or Quire.

metalmikester profile image
Michel Renaud

I also use Spark for e-mail on mobile, but Thunderbird on the desktop. I use Antidote for grammar checking since it supports both French and English, and it integrates with several applications including Thunderbird. I've also found it better than Grammarly.

I use OneNote for organizing notes.

voidjuneau profile image
Juneau Lim • Edited

I can't go back to life without Notion & Grammarly & Spectacle.
I only have 4 active e-mail accounts and It's manageable with default mail & calendar app so far.

Even though I love Notion, I'm still daily using some extra apps as well.
Todoist for to-dos. I just have used for a too long time (maybe +5y?), and love the keyboard shortcut. So really didn't want to stop using it.
Clockify for time tracking. I don't like micro scheduling, so just wanted to check spent time with an actual result. Since Pomodoro technic didn't work for me, I also use it to bind myself ensuring minimum time spent.

I heard TweetDeck but haven't tried. I should check it out.
Basically, I prefer default apps/functions. But should come back to this post again when I feel needed.
Thanks for the recommendations!

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