My skew/preferences/recommendations -
I’ve been meaning to type something up like this for a couple friends who have asked, so figure this is as good of a place as any.
Switch to Mac.
- Windows rot, Windows BS, Android spam, etc, none of that noise is worth your time. Get refurb mac stuff if needed, it is pretty much always more practical and economical than comparable PCs (when you value over the years.)
- Note I was a diehard windows user for years and I am a “power user.” Have tried many flavors of linux. Used to hate mac.
- Objections fell away within weeks of work issuing me a Mac and realizing all that customization I would do, was all a giant waste of time. Mac defaults are “good enough” in nearly all respects, and then have plenty of extensibility options. It’s just damn practical.
- Since ADHD brains have extra trouble with time management and distractibility, I think it’s extra important that your computer/phone are not setting booby traps for you to waste time on.
- Anyways seriously nobody ever sat on their death bed and wished they spent more time doing worthless one-off bullshit on their always-breaking computer. Just get one that works.
Web services (may have phone/laptop apps, but don’t HAVE to be Mac)
- I used OmniFocus for a few years, but no longer.
Todoist won me over as my main todo app. Seriously it’s amazing, life changer for me.
- BTW I dabbled with “GTD” methodology in the past, I’ve concluded pure-GTD doesn’t work well for ADHD brains based on myself and some friends. (anecdotal of course…) However it has some good tips.
Mailstrom and/or their phone app Chuck, helps you declutter and unsubscribe from things in your email. Do NOT use unroll-dot-me, they were pretty sheisty about their data policy. Mailstrom can do everything ‘unroll’ can do, and more
- ZocDoc of course
- There’s Mint, but if you want less privacy issues and more features, try You Need a Budget
- I DON’T recommend Evernote. For me I found it became digital hoarding, and I almost never needed it for recall later. Got rid of it and got back a few minutes every day, which adds up.
- Google Flights, AirBnB … (Again just as timesavers, not adhd-specific)
Phone apps (focused on Mac/iOS):
Use the built-in ScreenTime tracking support! And Do Not Disturb mode and such.
Just Press Record for voice memos with transcriptions, and keeps those things together. Good support.
Alarmed! or BeepMe or Alarmy for nagging reminders and alarms. I use Alarmed for various reminders and every-minute-nags in the day. I use Alarmy for obnoxious alarms where I have to shake the phone for 30s or go take a picture of my kitchen, etc, to turn it off. Amazing. HUGE HELP for me to stop working at end of day (multiple of these alarms), as I work from home and have a problem with breaking out of hyperfocus.
Streaks and Streaks Workout are the best habit trackers I’ve used, and I’ve tried many over time! Great support.
Tody and Kondo are basically the same app with different skins, Tody being the more unique one (has many common chores as presets). They are meant for chores and general-cyclical-habit tracking, respectively. So Streaks is for “chainable” daily/weekly habits, Tody and Kondo are for more “background” things to take care of. Todoist can of course do recurrence, but I end up trying to keep Todoist for “MUSTS” and move any “SHOULDS” to the other apps. This helps me on time-pressed or attention-strained days, to keep those a bit separate.
- There are also some apps dedicated to automobile service reminders, I use a free simple one called ServiceAlert but there are others
Firefox Focus, privacy-first, tabless browser. Use it for any/all “quick searches” so you are less likely to get sucked into rabbit holes.
Spotify of course as everyone else says. Worth it for subscription.
MoodNotes OK it’s not productivity per se, but CBT is important and complementary
Desert Golfing OK not productivity either, but the least “suck-you-in” game, which for me works like a fidget spinner. By reaching for that instead of more interesting games, I don’t get sucked into games on phone… Save that gametime for better games on Nintendo Switch
Chime is a little app to announce every hour or every 15mins, like a grandfather clock or retro watch would. Helps me counteract our notorious time-blindness.
MultiTimer for various preset timers, for doing Pomodoro-ish workflows. Has good support.
- Organize your phone pages to put everyday and healthy things on pages 1 and 2. Put sometimes/distractible things in later pages and in subfolders.
- Use the “Add to Home Screen” bookmark option in safari to add shortcuts straight to necessary pages, so that you can jump straight to where you need to be before opening your browser and seeing all of your other interesting tabs.
Health and banking apps, I’ve found many banks and credit cards have good apps even if their website is counterproductive garbage. Same for Mortgages, Health Insurance … This saves a little time on many days and it adds up.
- For any given email newsletter, unsubscribe from it and move it to an RSS Reader like Inoreader/Unread. You should be able to choose when to “pull” for new information, for an ADHD brain it is not good for it to be “pushed” to us.
- Pocket or another “read it later” app.
- Your email reader should have a “snooze” option
And for any phone not just iOS:
Tune your notifications, relentlessly removing any noise that isn’t actually helping your day (happiness, productivity …)
REMOVE “NEWS” the built-in app, as well as google news etc. You don’t need news pushed to you. You can move that to RSS feeds that you open when you choose to, with only the content you want.
REMOVE ALL SOCIAL MEDIA.
- Ideally you would delete your accounts (life changing!) but if that hurts too much, just delete the apps from your phone and block the websites on your phone with Freedom.to or the built-in “parental control” or “screen time” features (can use on yourself of course).
- There is no need for you to have these on your phone. And I’d bet you’ll never be on your death bed regretting the time you didn’t spend on social media
- If you don’t want to use built in Notes.app or not using mac, try SimpleNote
- At work I also use nvALT for “personal wiki” rapid notes for recall later. I copy-paste tons of stuff into there and its “wiki-style” linking is a huge help.
- I also use physical timers; TimeCube, Time Timer, both are well-priced on Amazon. (Time Timer was mentioned in several ADDitude Magazine articles.)
- Stickies stickies stickies! Planted around the house, with pens and permanent markers to go with them.
- If you can afford it, try a mealkit subscription plan like Blue Apron or another. It has been great for us.
Laptop apps (Mac):
- Screen Time/ Moderation
- Smoother workflows
contexts.co window-switcher is ****ing great. I minimize multi-tasking, but we always have some stuff to juggle. contexts.co is the first window-switcher I’ve used where I don’t slip up due to poor working memory.
- I also like tiling window managers to keep 2+ apps on screen (but use max screen space), when that’s needed. So less window-switching, less chance of a context switch cost. I use Spectacle (free) but there are others, and there are Windows and Linux ones too.
- At work
station.io is amazing. Hard to explain briefly, just look/try!
- Firefox is my preferred work web browser (it’s fast again, if you missed that news!). Specifically with Tree Style Tab plug in and session-save/restore plugins. Now that I use station.io for the “constant” items email/jira/docs/github/etc), then Firefox is the “open-ended” research area, with auto tree style tabs… and it’s super efficient
- Close/minimize Slack as much as you can, if you have to use that…
- Cloud services/ storage
- My wife and I pay for the $2.99/mo iCloud plan for backing up photos and phone backups. Dropbox is not needed anymore either when we have that level of storage. It’s a markup “per gigabyte,” but the seamlessness and time saving is worth it. Again, relentlessly eliminating unnecessary maintenance tasks
- Yes use Mac’s Safari/iCloud password manager. Use its random passwords for all new accounts. Autofill. Easy. (I have an Application Security background, for what it’s worth. And I recommend it.)
- Good alternatives: LastPass, 1Password.
Backblaze for whole-computer backup.
- If you have an iPad, get Duet Display to use it as a second monitor, even on the go.
Also worthy of mention: it was really beneficial for me to get a tablet (in my case iPad Pro 9.7" - the upgrade was because I use it for musicmaking running many apps at same time - ton of fun btw). I ended up relegating most of my more “open ended” non-work screentime to the ipad.
Essentially phone/ are my low-noise “Lifestyle Coach” devices … Tablet is my casual and not-so-prone-to-rabbit-holes “computer” … And laptop/computer does all the things a laptop must do, but I avoid even opening it if the task doesn’t require it. All together, these things minimize my distractibility.
Phew! I doubt that’s everything, but those are top of mind.
Oh and don’t open forums when you have something else you need to do. Oops…!