My husband surprised me with an iPad for Christmas, and so far I am loving it! Although I’m hesitant to recommend it as a tool that anyone really needs, I’ll share more about what I love about it on the technology channel over the next for weeks.
Overwhelmingly, though, I use it as a productivity tool, and I’ve tried dozens of free tools — and a few inexpensive ones — that I want to share with you today:
First, a funny story. When I brought the iPad home, I asked on Twitter about productivity tools, and Kat from Inspired to Action mentioned that she loved Awesome Note on her iPhone. It cost $4.99, so I thanked her and went on with my search for free apps. A few weeks later, I came to my senses and took a second look at Awesome Note, and guess what? It is exactly what I was looking for. The only thing that could possibly improve this app is if it could sync with my Google calendars. But it’s still by far my most used tool even without that feature.
Awesome Note allows you to make notes, record journal entries, organize your thoughts, ideas and memories, create to-do lists and shopping lists and customize it for pretty much anything you can dream up.
Awesome Note for iPad | Cost: $4.99
Popplet is a very cool mind-mapping app that allows you to create mind maps right from your iPad. I started with the basic free version but quickly upgraded so that I could save multiple mind maps, email them and so on. This is great for thinking through processes, recording post ideas and planning out writing projects.
Popplet | Cost: $8.99
:: All Stuck Up
All Stuck Up is a great tool for brain dumps and organizing thoughts. It functions like a corkboard that you can add sticky notes too. The free version gives you on board and a limited number of notes, while the paid version includes unlimited boards and notes.
I’ll be honest — this was my favorite app until I accidentally upgraded without backing up first and lost all of my notes, which included to-do lists and dozens of post ideas that I’ll probably never remember. It’s still very cool, but that incident sent me to Awesome Note, and I much prefer being able to keep all of those things in one place. I can still see using it for brain dumps if I don’t have the time or energy to organize my thoughts, and I’d still recommend the app for someone looking for a sticky note tool.
All Stuck Up | Cost: $0.99
I was a career transcriptionist for many years, and we used to laugh at the notion of voice recognition software because, frankly, it just wasn’t all that good. But Dragon Dictation’s free iPad app? Wow. It does an amazing job of accurately transcribing your speech, and I use it when the words for a post come to me but I just don’t feel like typing. A little editing and formatting, and the post is ready to go!
Dragon Dictation | Cost: FREE
GeeTasks is another app that I abandoned when I made the switch to Awesome Note, but if you regularly use Gmail’s tasks, then it’s a great little app for quickly accessing those on your iPad. Simple and straightforward, this app works without a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles.
GeeTasks | Cost: $2.99
Finally, one thing I’ve struggled with is being able to focus with four little ones at home! Even though my husband takes care of their basic needs and entertains them for most of the day, my office is an open room at the top of the steps, and they can be quite noisy. I’ve been known to want to pull my hair out while trying to think of the perfect word or the right phrase for a post!
I recently downloaded Ambiance, and I love it. The catalog has hundreds of available background sounds to choose from, and they will play in the background while you use your iPad for other tasks as well.
Ambiance | Cost: $2.99
Do you have an iPad (or an iPhone)? What is your favorite productivity app?