As a professional graphic designer with a day job and ongoing side projects in my fluid design studio after hours, things can sometimes get a little out of hand. So it is important that I use and constantly improve on the software, hardware and manual tools that I use each day to Get Shit Done. In 2018, these are the main tools that I regurlarly use to wrangle my to-do list, make high quality design work and maintain my sanity!
1. Omnifocus & Airmail
While there have been many to-do apps throughout my working career, as of 2018 the one I have satyed with is Omnifocus for Mac. I also installed the IOS version for it’s capability to sync from the desktop version, but find that I rarely use it on my phone due the lack of background syncing (the app syncs while open, so if you aren’t in the app regurlarly you may find that you get notifications on your phone for tasks that you had already set as completed on the computer earlier). The best thing about Omnifocus for mac is the ability to create tasks directly from my emails in Airmail, this saves heaps of time and each task then includes a link back to the original email which is great for going back to tasks that require a specific email attachment without getting ahead of myself and pre-organising the files before I get a chance to digest the work required. While Omnifocus has a great and deep set of tools with perspectives and project tiers, because most of the things I’m working on are either recurring or small tasks with 1 or 2 parts, I generally stick to Forecast page, which shows a simple list of the things I have to do for today and lets me easily move things around to later in the week if other competing priorities vie for my time.
2. Adobe Suite
Still the cornerstone of design industry software across the world despite it’s short comings, Adobe Suite is the collection of products I use day to day to get graphic design work done. There are other competitors in this space now that handle small niches of design work like Affinity Designer for more illustrative work and Sketch for online components and User Experience in applications, but as I tend to cover a wide breadth of disciplines within Graphic Design, Adobe still has it covered with Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Adobe Acrobat and Premiere/After Effects.
3. Sony Nex
When I started looking at camera’s I needed something that would provide me with better quality than the web style camera’s at the time, was small enough to carry with me every day in my normal kit and did good video. This brought me to the Sony Nex which was new at the time and has served me while for a few years now without any major complaints or issues. This allows me to take good quality product photographs, small featurette videos for clients and comes with my almost everywhere without having to worry about a massive camera body.
4. Atom & CodeKit
While I definitley would not call myself a developer there are always times that need a little tweaking, a little problem solving or even just a look into how those gears are turning. For times like this, especially when working with eccommerce systems like Shopify – Atom is absolutley my go-to. I also use Atom as a base text editor as well, booting it with a shortcode run by Alfred.
5. Dropbox, 1Password & Rightfont
Keeping data secure and backed up is an essential but sometimes easy to forget part of doing good business. I have known too many people who find themselves in a bind after having saved all of their passwords to the desktop in a text editor, so I use 1Password to keep all of the passwords I use personally as well as those generated for clients unique and securely encrypted. I sync this will all of my devices via dropbox, as well as using this clandestine tool to backup and supply design work for and to my valued clients. This means deliverables are available to my clients well after the project has finished should the files be misplaced or need to be passed on internally or with another cotractor. Most recently I also started backing up my fonts with dropbox and rightfont helps with this by syncing the fonts into the system, so you don’t need to have duplicates files on the computer (super handy!), it can also help in sorting and searching for fonts quickly through a menu bar app.
6. Text Expander & Hazel
Part of being productive is saving time on the things you do more than once, especially things that you need to do frequently like saving or copying files between locations and typing the same kinds of details for emails etc. For file management on my mac I use Hazel from Noodlesoft, this handy app works in the background to help with automatically doing things like automatically cleaning up screen shots on the desktop and moving files I would otherwise need to take time and concentration to file away. For text, there is a rudimentary built in utility on the mac in keyboard settings, but I have preferred using Text Expander (also available on IOS) for a little more power and accessibility. This app can be used to create handy snippets for things like standard greetings, dates (like entering ‘#nextthurs’ and getting the exact date in dd/mm/yyyy format) and many more complex things like those detailed here and some other pointers @ macsarky.
7. Microsoft Office & Skype
Whilst Google Sheets has come far and I do use some of it’s features for saving and backing up spreadsheets that need constant updates, for processing, updating and general day to day spreadsheeting I still use ol’ Microsoft Excel and sometimes Powerpoint, not because Apple’s built in competitors cannot do what I need to, but more for quick and easy compatibility with client software. With this of course comes Skype as well, which is still my app of choice for quickly getting into contact with overseas clients and coworkers offsite.
8. PocketCast & Spotify
Nothing eases the stress of a long day like some good music and information, for this I use PocketCast to sync my podcasts and the streaming service Spotify for some soothing tunes (my current jam is a long playlist of classic music inspired by and that play during the console game Fallout).