Today I will be following up on Season one’s FIVE FREE PRODUCTIVITY APPS episode with five more awesome apps for IOS or Android. These are apps that I use myself, if not every day of the year then certainly every week.
Last week’s topic was SHOOT WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT and looked at why we should ignore the distractions of shiny new equipment etc and move forward in our creative efforts, whatever they are, without waiting for the planets to proverbially “come into alignment”. Although “shooting with what you’ve got” suggests that the episode content was only for filmmakers, I have a feeling that all film pros and creatives can benefit show and gain some inspiration from it.
This is the penultimate episode of Season 2 and I’m very interested in what productivity techniques you are adopting and what new matters you are struggling with, and if you do leave me a message please do let me know if you would call yourself a film pro, a filmmaker, a creative, or just another interested party that is getting something out of it. The more I know about you and what you are having trouble with in your lives and work, the easier it will be for me to create tailored content for you.
And as always if you’ve missed any of the shows please note that every single episode can be accessed directly via filmproproductivity.com or on any number of the free podcasting apps that are out there.
Every week I try to open your mind to a particular topic or way of thinking and that will increase your effectiveness and efficiency, not necessarily to free up time for more work, which is one way of looking at it - but to free up time from that day to day work, for yourself - for your own projects and your own well-being.
The reason I cover this topic and that of Google extensions a few weeks ago is that it would be remiss of me not to. Certain productivity apps for your phone or your tablet offer simple solutions to long-standing problems which we all deal with and will make your life easier and happier as a result. As we all know, energy spent on unproductive, distracting or low priority activities cannot be recovered so what’s the harm on utilising a small piece of software to help you along the way.
The hard part is not getting lost in what they all have to offer. There’s a danger not only in having too many apps that distract you, like games, or social media for example but in getting lost in the plethora of productivity apps that are out there jostling for your attention.
I’ve come to realise that many of these apps are simply money-spinners for their creators and can actually make life more confusing and more difficult, and a great deal of them will have similar abilities.
In episode 14 I recommended 5 other apps so go back and have a listen to that one if you haven’t already. I have a fairly short list of apps that benefit me although I am regularly trying others out.
Psychologist Daniel Levitin said, “The obvious rule of efficiency is you don't want to spend more time organizing than it's worth.”
For me, the trick is, to not get caught up in the minutia of everything these apps can do, but pick a few things you want your productivity app to help you with and just use it for that. By front-loading your understanding of the app – (see episode is it 23? For that one) basically spending a wee bit of time getting to know what they can do for you and setting them up, you can step away from it some extent and let them do their thing.
If you just Google Best Productivity Apps then never-ending lists of them will pop-up as there’s a wide range of productivity apps out there. I have chosen just five more apps to present to you today. These are apps that I genuinely use. Please note too that many of these have very powerful desktop, browser and website accessible versions too.
The first of app that I recommend may not seem to be one that is particularly related to productivity at all, but when the time comes when you need it, it may just save your from a whole lot of trouble. This app is called CALL RECORDER. The app is free on Android, but I can see a disturbing pattern of Apple charging for what Android gets you for free, and I don’t have access to an apple device here but they definitely used to charge you for this same app.
This app records both sides of every phone call you make and saves them. You can then listen to the recording, add notes and share it if you want. You’ve heard me complain about getting accused of driving whilst using a mobile phone before and I installed this app after that happened. Call Recorder will not only record the call but it also registers the time-code and can, therefore, be presented as proof if you ever found yourself in that situation yourself.
I sometimes use it to refer back to a verbal agreement or perhaps a disagreement and I can promise you, if this is on your phone you will feel a lot happier about things if you are in a troublesome situation. If you need proof of something, harassment or whatever, this call recorder will put your mind at ease and perhaps give you the hard evidence you need to make a problem, or a problem individual go away.
Call recorder integrates with Google Drive™ and Dropbox so calls to be saved and synchronised to the cloud as well.
Recorded calls are stored in the Inbox. You can set the size of the inbox. The number of saved calls is limited only by your device memory. If you decide that a conversation is important, save it and it will be stored in the Saved Calls folder.
If not, old recordings will automatically be deleted when new calls fill up the inbox. You can enable a Call Summary Menu with options to appear immediately after a call and you can search for recordings by contact, phone number, or note.
There are 3 default settings for automatic recording:
Record everything (default) – This setting records all calls except for contacts pre-selected to be ignored.Ignore everything – This setting records no calls except for contacts pre-selected to be recorded.Ignore contacts – This setting records all calls with people who are not contacts, except for contacts pre-selected to be recorded.
The app contains ads but they are unobtrusive as it just does what you set it up to do. There is a pro version which doesn’t more but I’ve never felt the need to upgrade.
AWAITING ITUNES LINK - THIS LOOKS LIKE IT;S BEEN REMOVED - BUT THERE ARE SIMILAR ALTERNATIVES.
The second app on my list today is WHATSAPP. We started using this app and its Chinese counterpart WeChat when we were working in Hong Kong and China, but once we returned home it was WhatsApp that we continued using.
WhatsApp Messenger is a FREE messaging app available for smartphones. It uses your phone's Internet connection to let you message and call friends and family. You can use it to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, documents, and Voice Messages to anyone else on the planet with the same app. For me, on my PHONE CONTRACT, I get charged every time I send a photo by text, but with Whatsapp, it all comes in under my data allowance and I’ve never gone over it yet. You can also send and receive WhatsApp messages from your computer's browser.
It’s free and has NO INTERNATIONAL CHARGES, and you can send and receive photos, videos, documents, and Voice Messages to anywhere on the planet, providing they have access to the net and have the app installed, and you can even set up group chats - which can sometimes be a drag btw! – but if not abused can be a real benefit.
The main use I make of it is for sending images and for leaving voice chat messages. We got into the habit of leaving voice messages for one another in Hong Kong which can really cut down communication times. The voice chat messages on WhatsApp are not restricted to 59 seconds as they are in some other apps. I’ve received a message of 8 minutes long once so I don’t know if there’s any limit. Sometimes just leaving a short chat message is just infinitely easier than stopping everything and texting back on a handset. Just to clarify, the app records these short messages and sends the message directly to the receiver. It’s not like a voicemail service where they could pick up. They just get your recording.
I should say that for me this really doesn’t replace email as it’s very hard to search back through voice messages to find pertinent information. If you have really important that information either put it in writing in the app or just go to good old email to deliver it. I do also use Skype for international calls btw but WhatsApp is often the most convenient option.
Next up we have CANVA. And this is where the graphic designers listening to this podcast cry out and say NOOOO don’t tell them about Canva!!!!! - because this app makes design amazingly simple. You can create incredible designs for promotion, for work or just for fun in just minutes and there are no design skills or complex software needed.
Whether you need an Instagram story or post, Facebook header, free logo maker, photo collage, wedding invitation maker, card maker, poster maker, banner maker or email header creator — Canva helps you to produce eye-catching graphics on the go. It is available on mobile devices and for your computer – I tend to use it in my web browser - so you can make, edit and share your designs anywhere, anytime.
I used Canva to make all the quote images in black and red that accompany this podcast, I used it to make the logo for the podcast and I used it to make an advert for the show and for fIghtdirector.com which is printed in the local film crew listings.
If you have to work with social media, and I have to do a lot of that to promote the show, you can use its templates to very easily create professional looking Facebook posts and covers, Instagram posts, WhatsApp Status or Facebook Stories, Twitter posts and headers, Snapchat geofilters (I don’t know snapchat but I believe the youths use it, Etsy and YouTube banners and thumbnails.
In everyday use it has templates for Invitation makers, cards, posters, logos, email headers, collages, flyers – you name it – it can do it.
All you do is select one of over 60,000 templates then personalise it by adding your own images, text, fonts and colours and then share it! When adding your own text or captions to your images you can choose from over 100 fonts to suit your style. Then adjust the font size, colour, position and rotation of your words to get your design picture perfect.
Alternatively, it has over 1 million images with hundreds of free elements and fonts. You can upload images straight from your device gallery to your designs or take photos on the go in the app. It’s also got a built-in photo editor, and loads of dead easy to use sharing options with all the correct sizes etc for you to send straight to you Share your social media accounts.
Canva is the perfect design app and in it’s out of the box form is completely free. It does have upgrades but I’ve never had to use them.
And next up I suggest you try UDEMY. I’ve talked about UDEMY.com a few times here and it’s basically just an online video learning platform featuring 80,000+ video courses taught by expert instructors. You can take courses in anything from personal development classes like design, drawing, writing and yoga to film making and editing, screenwriting etc. It has more than 24 million students who are mastering new skills, advancing their careers, and exploring new hobbies and although I mostly access it via my desktop computer, the app allows me to continue learning when I’m hanging about on film sets or when I’m travelling.
With Udemy you will find courses in over 2,000 topics some of which are actually free. When I started this podcast I found a free 40-minute course on the free audio recording software Audacity. It was with knowledge picked up on that course that I started recording this show, and I still record every episode with it. The courses retail at quite high rates but at least every second week they are on sale and generally, you will pay no more than $9.99 to $12.99 for access to them and btw once you’ve enrolled in a course, you’ll have lifetime access to the content.
With the app, you can download courses to learn offline and if you are on the go you can also listen to courses in audio-only mode.
One thing I find useful and a great time saver in productivity terms is that you can personalise your learning experience with speed controls and closed captioning. I tend to do my courses at 1.25% speed.
I’ve sat courses on screenwriting, technical camera skills, speed learning, audacity and many more. As soon as this podcast launches I’ll be sitting a course on Davinci Resolve. Udemy is totally awesome and if you are not utilising it then you are missing out.
Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll recommend Hootsuite as I’m going to give it a go at the moment, but for now, the app that I actually use to put out my daily productivity tweets out there via @fight_director on twitter is the free version of BUFFER.
Buffer is my final recommendation today as its simple to use and the free version allows you to put out 10 scheduled – That is automated - posts on the social media platform or platforms of your choice.
I say automated, but that, of course, doesn’t mean it writes them for you. You still have to do the legwork on content but it means you can sit down in one session and batch up to ten posts at the one time – you can do a lot more in the paid version but unless you are a social media professional, that is really not worth the price you have to pay.
It’s fast, easy and powerful social media sharing. Any link, text, picture or video can best be sent using it – many of these apps limit video sharing to the more expensive version – you just add it to Buffer and then choose when and where it’ll be posted.
I use Buffer to promote this show in fact. I post usually on a Friday before a show goes out and then again on a Sunday morning to say - look out everyone - the latest show is coming.
This means that when I’m working on a film or a tv show and my mind is elsewhere, that my posts go out without my involvement. It means that if I am busy, I can still ensure a consistent presence on social media. This may not be important to every film pro out there, or indeed every individual, but as a filmmaker that sometimes runs crowdfunding campaigns or as a podcaster producing weekly content that I can continue to build my following and influence and keep everyone up to date.
You can schedule your posts automatically so you never have to worry about setting a time and date or customize the timing of individual posts. When you combine that with the free analytics for every update you share it makes even this free basic 10 post app extremely valuable in time-saving times.
You can also add to Buffer from your browser using our Browser Extensions for Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Opera and although I do use the app regularly, I usually set up my daily quotes with that version as it’s a little easier.
In the free version, you can also connect up to 3 social accounts with up to 10 scheduled posts per profile
They say that the future of technology is not really location-based apps; it is about making location completely unimportant and I think that many of these recommendations back that up.
I hope that this list has been of interest to you and that you will give at least some of them a spin. In productivity terms, they will all make your life easier in some way but remember too to check out my recommendations of season 1. They were Gmail, Google Calendar, To-Doist, Dropbox and Pocket, and for all info on that please do check out episode 14.
CALL TO ACTION
A link to every app that I’ve talked about here and a full transcript of this episode is available at filmproproductivity.com and may appear on your podcasting apps too. Please be aware though that some podcasting apps will remove links from the RSS feed. If you want to guarantee that they will be there go to the official website which I have full control of.
The US politician Gordon Smith said this on the topic, and I think it’s very telling. “ I think I have over 60 apps on my iPhone. I use six.”
So don’t go crazy collecting apps. Find the ones that work for you and use them. Don’t keep chasing after the next supposedly essential productivity app, if you really don’t need it at all.
Next week’s episode will be will be the final show of the season so if you love your productivity advice, you won’t want to miss it!
Thanks again for spending your valuable time here with me again today.
I’ll end this show with a quote by Norwegian politician Christian Lous Lange who once said: “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.”
And that, of course, is how the Terminator movies were born...
Now, take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.
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