Finding Magic in the Cloud – My Mobile Productivity workflow

I am an unabashed iPad nut. I love working on my iPad and I consider it my command center for my personal life, and my new business, Third Wunder. For a long time it was quite difficult to get any serious work done on an iPad, and I used it mostly for consuming content; Reading articles, triaging email, watching tv/movies, playing the odd game and showing off photos.

Then came the dawn of a new era with iOS8, which pretty much changed the iOS landscape. Many people complained that they din’t like it, saying it’s dumbed down and flat and ugly and and and….. But I’m telling you, it’s incredible. Why? The answer is share extensions. Share extensions in iOS8 allows apps to talk to and share information among each other. This makes things better because now, no app is an island. And that’s when I discovered a few apps that made my inner productivity nerd squeal like a japanese school girl at a boy band concert.

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Sunrise  + Todoist + Evernote + CloudMagic = Productivity Heaven

Sunrise

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I have been searching for a calendar app like Sunrise forever and the AppDev Gods heard my cries for help and sent me this gift to planning. Sunrise connects almost every popular social and productivity service out there and plops it in to one calendar, giving me a birds-eye-view of everything going on in my life. At first it felt overwhelming but once the anxiety settled, I felt like a seasoned sailor navigating life by glancing at the stars. I can see what’s going on in my personal life on Facebook, plan my day’s activities with Todoist tasks, have flight information automatically added with Tripit and even have reminders to read saved articles from Evernote! All in one place.

Sunrise iPad App Screenshot

Sunrise connects to all my calendar accounts on Gmail and iCloud and does an amazing job of displaying multiple calendars on each. the best part is the social and map data for an individual event. Sunrise picks up an image and public social data of meeting attendees and shows it right in the event info pane, and does an amazing job at making it easy to find the location of an appointment in Google maps.

Todoist

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A good task manager is, for lack of a better expression, worth it’s weight in gold (digital products don’t weigh anything). There are way too many apps, but each one has its limitations, and I’ve tried all of them. From apps like Apple Reminders, Things and Omnifocus to online services like Producteev, Google Tasks and Remember The Milk. I settled on Todoist because of its incredible cross platform apps with a consistent user interface and features set across all devices and platforms. Mind you, that doesn’t make much of a difference to me coz I’m an Apple guy through and through, but I like that I can access my tasks from web, desktop, iPad and iPhone with fast syncing and exactly the same feature set in all off them.

Todoist iPad Screenshot

But the thing that got me was how other apps integrated with it, most notably Sunrise. Being able to see my tasks for the week on a calendar and manage my workload based on an agenda makes a big difference to my sanity. No more bouncing around between calendar and task manager to find out how crazy my week ahead is going to be. The email client CloudMagic also has a wicked integration with Todoist and I will touch on that later.

Todoist is not the most powerful app out there when it comes to the sheer number of ways you can organize things like Omnifocus or other apps. It’s strength is its simplicity. Projets, tasks, subtasks, taks notes, labels and filters are all I need to manage my life. If you get too bogged down in how you manage your life management, you end up focusing more on how to manage than actually doing things. As long as everything sycs seamlessly across devices and I don’t have to worry about not loosing things, I’m happy.

Evernote

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I’ve bee using Evernote for a few years now and it’s pretty much my cybernetic extension. I save everything there for later reference. From research content, recipes, blog posts and news articles I want to read later,  to my meeting minutes and notes.

I also recently pledged to go paperless because I wanted to reduce my reliance on paper. No more snail mail invoices, bank statements or printed material. And Evernote is perfect for that. I now use it as my digital document library. I scan and save all documents in Evernote for use anywhere. I have a premium account which allows me to download all my notes for use offline, which is amazing when I need to catch up on things on the go where there is no wifi, eg: planes.

But Evernote on its own as a mobile device an be cumbersome when trying to save content. iOS share extensions to the rescue with ability to send anything to Evernote. On top of that, many apps are now supporting it natively, which makes formatting issues when saving a thing of the past. The CloudMagic appl which I will expand on more, for iOS and Android lets me save an email to Evernote. Invoices, important information and newsletters with great content can go straight to my Evernote notebooks for later reading and referencing.

Evernote has its own task feature but I don’t use it much. I do like that I can set a reminder to read a note or come back to something I’m writing later and I see it right in my Sunrise calendar.

Evernote iPad App Screenshot

One of the neatest features is business card scanning. Again part of my paperless life, when I get a business card from someone, Evernote lets me snap a picture of it to scan it, pulls out all the relevant information, saves it and even goes further to get any public social information about a person from LinkedIn and Twitter so it’s easier for me to follow or connect with them.

CloudMagic

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The icing on this productivity cake is CloudMagic. I tried so many email apps that give you extra swipes, and all sorts of other features, but nothing comes near the shear usefulness of CloudMagic. It brings everything together so seamless, I could cry with joy.

Like most people, most of my actionable work comes from my collaboration with my team and clients, which is directed and orchestrated via email. With Cloudmagic and its integrations via what they call “cards”, I can run through my emails quicker and manage my life and business more efficiently. CloudMagic has integration cards that let me create Todoist taks from an email with just a couple of taps. When I review my emails in the morning, I just create my tasks for the day/week with contexts a la GTD and I’m good to go. The email body is the Todoist task notes so I don’t have to switch back to my email client on any platform to know the details. Voila, I have my week planned and I can focus on getting things done.

Cloudmagic iPad app Screenshot

Email attachments in mobile have been a pain for a long time, especially adding or saving attachments other than photos in iOS. Share extensions help, but CloudMagic takes it further. If I need to reply to an email with a file, CloudMagic gives me the freedom to send files from cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox with a few taps. With Panic’s Transmit app, I can even login to an ftp server and retrieve files. This makes Cloudmagic very powerful when working remotely and needing access to office files on the go.

Knowing my clients and keeping communication high and constant with them is very important to my business. The social profile card gives me important social information about clients that can help me understand how to serve them better. The Mailchimp integration makes it very easy and quick to add clients to the right newsletter and drip campaign lists, which is great to keep important clients upto date with the latest news and updates about the digital industry that we send out regularly.

Expanding on my new paperless life, CloudMagic comes to the rescue with the Evernote integration card where I can send any email to an Evernote notebook. From invoices to information and instructional emails, a couple of taps and it’s saved for later reading.

Meanwhile on my laptop

These days, the majority of work I do on my laptop is exclusively heavy lifting. Coding websites, photoshopping images, UX designs, managing and editing my gargantuan image library of photography and writing client proposals. Basically anything that needs very specialized tools.

But even then, the lines are blurred between what I could and would do on my iPad vs my MacBook. I can manage files on servers with Panic’s Transmit app, and to a certain degree edit code with Diet Coda. Pixelmator for iPad lets me open Photoshop PSD’s and even create graphics which I can finish off with more details on my MacBook. Omnigraffle for iPad is getting more and more powerful and with Omnigroups Omnisync, I can work on UX designs on the go and have edits synced to my desktop in a snap. Mailchimp apps for iPad make it easier to manage and create email newsletters. And of course there is Apple’s iWork, Microsoft Office and Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides) suite of document creation apps, for creating and collaborating on any kind document.

When things work together and seamlessly, I don’t have to think about how I need to do things and just focus on doing. I am more productive. That’s good for me and everyone who has to deal with me. I get things done!

2 thoughts on “Finding Magic in the Cloud – My Mobile Productivity workflow

  • Susanr

    I am trying to send an email and want to attach some photo’s, can you please tell me how to do it in easy steps. I am using Cloudmagic on my IPad.

    Thank you very much.

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