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The Best Productivity Apps for Your Shiny New iPad

The Best Productivity Apps for Your Shiny New iPad

    Last week we tried to help answer the question of if you should buy Apple’s latest creation in the iPad 2. Even though I am a tad bit skeptical of the iPad 2 being such a great upgrade from the first gen model, I can in no way say that it isn’t the best tablet on the market at this very moment, especially for the price. And with the long lines and sell outs of iPad 2 on Friday, it appears that many consumers think it’s the best too.

    We have also discussed several weeks ago how tablets can actually be decent productivity devices, even with their lack of fast input with a full, physical keyboard. I have been using my iPad 1 since its release and have to admit that it is my go to device for keeping my action lists, reviewing and adding to my calendar, and reviewing documents and documentation.

    So, with new iPad in hand, let’s find some of the best productivity apps for iPad and iPad 2 to get you started.

    Action Lists and GTD

      Toodledo

      Toodledo for iPad literally feels like an extension of the web app that many GTD fans have deemed as the center of their system. The sync is fast and the ways that you can manipulate your lists is top notch.

      Universal app: $2.99

       

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        Things

        Considered to be one of the best GTD apps by many Mac-heads, Things is a streamlined, easy to use actions and projects app for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It is on the pricey side, but many users say that it is totally worth it for the workflow.

        No universal app: $19.99

          Omnifocus

          Considered by this Mac-head to be the best GTD application in the Apple realm for iOS and Mac OS X. Omnifocus has got some David Allen backing and is definitely a premium app for iOS which you can tell by the pricing. One of the best functions that I have found is location aware contexts. On a side note, if you want full desktop sync on OS X, you are going to have to pay another $79.99.

          No universal app: $39.99

            Todo

            Todo is a beautiful list application that syncs with the Todo web app or with Toodledo online. Todo does a good job of using the iPad’s screen real estate by giving the user the feeling of using a paper planner. You can also change the look and feel of the theme of your planner which gives this app a nice touch.

            No universal app: $4.99

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              Pocket Informant HD

              Pocket Informant has been around for a while, with its start coming from Windows Mobile. PI has done a good job of allowing you to hash your action lists and calendars in any way that you like. PI also syncs with Toodledo or even with Outlook with the download of a desktop app.

              No universal app: $14.99

              Notes and Document Creation

                iWork Suite

                We couldn’t forget the iWork suite that Apple created for the launch of the iPad last year. I have to say that Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for iPad show me what developers can actually do when developing for these tablet devices. If you have to create or edit documents that contain tables, formulas, etc. then the iWork suite is the best on iPad.

                No universal app: $9.99 each Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

                  Evernote

                  Evernote is the most ubiquitous digital note-taking tool. Period. I am not exactly sure how any of my projects would get done without this awesome tool.

                  Universal app: Free

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                    Simplenote

                    Simplenote is just that; a simple way to take notes. Simplenote allows you to take as many plain text notes as you want and then can sync them to the cloud via their web app. If you are one of those minimalist productivity types, then Simplenote is the way to take notes on your iPad.

                    Universal app: Free

                      Catch Notes

                      Catch Notes (used to be 3Banana Notes) reminds one of Simplenote with some added features like tagging and “hash-linking” your notes together. I used Catch Notes a lot back on Android, but decided to consolidate everything into Evernote to simplify.

                      Universal app: Free

                        Documents To Go

                        If you don’t want to give all of your money to Apple by buying their iWork suite but still need a way to edit Office documents, then your next best bet will be Documents To Go. Docs To Go has been around for a while now and has created a decent productivity suite on iOS at a decent price.

                        Universal App: Documents to Go $9.99 | Documents To Go Premium (includes Dropbox sync, Google Docs sync, email attachments, etc.) $14.99

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                        Miscellaneous

                          Stock Calendar and Contacts

                          I have yet to find better contact and calendar management than the stock apps provided by Apple. Also, they are deeply integrated into iOS. This means that other apps will use them to add items to your calendar or use contact information. Apple has done a great job of using the size of the iPad’s screen to give you more information and better navigation while browsing.

                          Free, comes with your iPad!

                            Dropbox

                            I and many others consider Dropbox to completely change the way that you store your files, especially if you work cross-platform. Dropbox for iPad takes advantage of the screen and also gives you previews of your documents, photos, and media. You can open your documents in whatever app you have installed that supports that type of media.

                            Universal app: Free

                              Mindnode

                              If you are like me, then you think in mindmaps. If that is the case then the best mindmapping software for iOS for the price is Mindnode. There is something visceral about creating mindmaps on a large touchscreen device; it feels much more natural than point and clicking with a mouse, often resulting in more dynamic and free-flowing brainstorm sessions.

                              Universal app: $5.99

                                Goodreader

                                This is the first app that I purchased for my iPad to read and review documents and PDFs and can’t say that I have spent a better five bucks in my life. Goodreader syncs with just about any cloud-based document service you can think of (Dropbox, Sugarsync, Box.net, Google Docs, etc).

                                No universal app: $4.99

                                More by this author

                                CM Smith

                                A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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                                Last Updated on April 23, 2019

                                How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

                                How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

                                Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

                                While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

                                For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

                                While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

                                I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

                                Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

                                Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

                                Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

                                The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

                                Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

                                What Is a Stretch Goal?

                                A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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                                In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

                                For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

                                This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

                                It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

                                The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

                                The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

                                I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

                                Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

                                1. Get Outside of Your Head

                                If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

                                If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

                                I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

                                Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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                                2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

                                When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

                                I see this in so many areas of life:

                                When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

                                In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

                                “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

                                Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

                                3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

                                When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

                                The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

                                For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

                                We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

                                From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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                                When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

                                Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

                                4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

                                S.M.A.R.T.

                                is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

                                While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

                                Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

                                For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

                                By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

                                5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

                                I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

                                The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

                                When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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                                One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

                                Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

                                I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

                                A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

                                As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

                                From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

                                The Bottom Line

                                These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

                                For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

                                Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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