5 Applicatons to Improve Your Design Productivity

Every single day these applications are launched on my computer and most of them stay running alongside Photoshop all day long. They can really help you increase your productivity so you can spend more time designing and doing the things you love.


1. Things $49.95
Started using Things in February of this year and it has quickly become my favorite application. I use it to track all of my tasks and now wonder how I was doing it before with pen and paper. It has improved not only my productivity by leaps and bounds but it also is a great way to never forget to do anything ever. With the companion iPhone app the experience is nearly seamless (syncing isn’t great yet—but will be soon we’re told).


2. Quicksilver Free
Whenever I sit down at a station that doesn’t have Quicksilver installed on it I get so flustered trying to remember how to do things “the long way.” Quicksilver is simply amazing. It’s shocking that it hasn’t been acquired by Apple and built right into the OS. If you enjoy using Key Commands in your design applications you will love this program. It’s so powerful that I have been using it for over a year now and have just scratched the surface of what it can do.


3. iBiz $39.99
iBiz is a great program for tracking all of your projects’ billable hours and elements. I use it for all of my invoicing and time tracking. It has built in invoices, estimates, and other forms as well as many other features. It’s also available in a server addition which is fantastic for small offices. The company that makes iBiz—IGG Software—also makes a nice money management tool, iBank.


4. Evernote Free with ads and limits on monthly uploads or $5 per month
Although I’m somewhat new to using Evernote I’m enjoying it so far. The basic idea is to never forget anything. Now, I don’t use it as a memory bank, but I do use it as an artist before computers may have used a “morgue.” Essentially it’s a great place to throw sketches, ideas, inspiration, reference materials, really anything and be able to quickly retrieve it when needed. The coolest feature is that it can search for text in images.


5. Coda $99
Typically I work with 3rd parties to develop code and I focus on the visual side of the project. However I still have to inspect the code provided and perform edits when necessary and on smaller projects I’ll handle the code myself. Coda is the perfect tool for viewing, writing, and editing code. Coda’s interface is slick and intuitive; it takes a process that used multiple applications previously and streamlines your workflow into one application. The developer—panic—also has a wonderful FTP tool, Transmit.


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  1. Hi James,

    You should also check Fanurio: http://www.fanuriotimetracking.com

    Fanurio is a desktop application designed to help freelancers manage their work and be paid for it. With Fanurio you can customize invoice templates using your own layouts and export them to HTML or PDF. It also has idle time detection and it can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux.

  2. Tony,
    Sure thing; glad you found the tips helpful.

    Lucinda,
    Yeah, iBiz certainly helps me keep my billing and time tracking straight. There are other solutions too, but iBiz has worked great thus far.

    Karen,
    Thanks for the tip. Fanurio looks like a great program too.

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