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Why Geeks Love Plain Text (And Why You Should Too)

Why Geeks Love Plain Text (And Why You Should Too)

    Plain text files are all the rage these days. Whether you are an iOS user that has one of the largest selection of plain text writing apps around, or a cross-platform guru that needs portability with her data and files; plain, good-ol’-fashion text files are the way to go.

    There is something about writing or logging your day in text files that is quite different from writing in a Microsoft Word Document, Apple Pages Document, Google Document, or even an OpenOffice ODT format. Below we will show you why geeks love plain text files and why you should too.

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    Portability

    One of the best things about plain text is that it is a portable format between almost any operating system that I have seen. You can use plain text files on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, etc. All of these operating systems have ways of natively showing you the contents of a text file as well and also allowing you to edit its contents.

    It’s safe to say that 20 years from now most operating systems (at their core) will be able to open a plain text file making your data safe and

    Easy To use

    Plain text files are at the zenith of ease of use. There isn’t really anything to learn; you just start typing text into a blank file. That’s it. No keyboard shortcuts to learn, or complicated menu structures, or ways to format etc. It’s all about putting data in a file and that is it.

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    You can create a new plain text file simply in any operating system with built in apps (ie. TextEdit.app or Notepad.exe), or if you are a real *nix geek just be typing something as simple as:

    touch my_new_text_file.txt

    Then open that sucker up in vim and type away (Don’t forgot to shift-z-z every once in a while to save, you nerd!). It couldn’t be simpler to get your thoughts down with a plain text file as the tool.

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    The best part about ease of use is that text files allow you to write, not fiddle with your tools. There are of course apps out there that allow you too mess around with your setup, but if you want to get some writing done a plain, no-frills text editor allows you to start writing right away.

    No lock-in

    Another great reason that geeks love plain text is that there is no vendor lock-in. This goes hand-in-hand with the portability reason mentioned above. There is no “special app” that only supports text files. There is no “compatibility issues” that you need to deal with (I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word). For all purposes, text files are just text files and can be opened by pretty much any document or text creation software.

    This is a great thing when you want your data sticking around for the long term. When the .doc format dies in the next 80 years, it would be hard for me to believe that some system that exists in the world won’t be able to open the simplest of data forms (even if you have to load it up in your heads-up-display that is embedded in your eyes).

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    Good for almost anything

    I use the word almost with care. I haven’t found too many things in my writing and developer journeys that plain text files aren’t good for, except one thing. Non-linear thinking (ie. mindmapping).

    Text files aren’t very good at connecting non-linear ideas together in an easy way. I’m sure that it is possible, but I haven’t found a good way to do it when I need to brainstorm. This is one of the only things when it comes to writing that I don’t use plain text for.

    The good thing about mindmapping, at least with any mindmapping applications that are worth a damn, is that you can export your data to an OPML format which is pretty portable as it is XML markup. You can open XML in any text editor as plain text.

    Awesome apps for text creation and editing

    Here are some of the best apps that I have found for creating, manipulating, and using your plain text files:

    Plain text files are easy, portable, searchable, and aren’t locked to a specific technology. Not to mention you will be nerdy and cool when you use plain text (just ask Mike). So, if you are looking to keep your words and data around for a long time, look to us geeks for some advice. Use plain text.

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    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 May 28, 2020

    18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

    18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

    No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. Undoubtedly, it has allowed us to connect, perform, improve, and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

    If you’re not taking advantage of some of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

    But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use?

    Well, this will depend on your needs. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 18 of the best time management apps that can help you with the most common challenges of managing time.

    Let’s dive straight into the list.

    1. Rescue Time – Use Your Time Wisely

      If you have doubts if you are using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. Aside from its automatic time-tracking feature, this app also has distraction blocking and efficient report tools.

      RescueTime helps you avoid being overwhelmed by too many tasks. This app also has a team software that’s dedicated to time management among team members. With this app, you may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

      2. Remember The Milk – Keep on Top of All Your Tasks

        If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool that is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc., and it allows you to sync all your devices for easier time management.

        This app will help you to manage your tasks easily and reminds you of them – wherever you are. You can share tasks and lists with others, making it a great tool for teams as well.

        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

        3. Focus Keeper – Boost Motivation to Complete Tasks

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          This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and it is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It has a simple, efficient user interface that is easily customizable based on your needs.

          Focus Keeper is designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures. This is a great app to use if you want to prevent yourself and your team from being burned out.

          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

          4. Toggl – Keep Track of Time Spent on Projects and Tasks

            Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks and through analysis – working out how you can manage them more effectively. Toggl allows you to do all this even with its simple design.

            Toggl includes great time-saving features integrated with its intuitive interface. This is a great alternative to time-sheets if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects.

            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

            5. Dropbox – Store and Send Large Files Easily

              There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices, but Dropbox is free and it is easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go. It is an easy way to share your files and documents with others for improved productivity.

              Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

              6. Evernote – Keep All Your Notes in One Place

                Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts, and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes, or images). You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches, and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to better optimize your time.

                Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

                7. MindNode — Focus on Tasks at Hand With Mind Mapping

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                  Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mindnode is one of the best free mind mapping apps available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

                  This app allows you to customize various visual tags and templates to suit your needs. You can also easily share your documents with others.

                  Available on iOS and Desktop

                  8. GoodSync – Back Up and Sync Your Files Effortlessly

                    This software allows you to back up, restore, and synchronize your files easily. It supports folders from a variety of locations, and it has filtering options that let you exclude subfolders from synchronizing.

                    This app also allows you to sync files to and from your phone. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this tool.

                    Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                    9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) – Manage Your To-Do Lists Effectively

                      Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, work with your to-do lists, and organize your goals. This task management software helps you target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives.

                      MyLifeOrganized is one of the best task management apps for focused work. It automatically generates to-do lists with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                      10. 1Password – Have All Your Passwords Remembered

                        1Password allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database – protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. This also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                        Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

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                        11. Pocket – Keep Your Eye on the Ball

                          When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. That’s why you need effective time management apps like Pocket. You can use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time. This prevents you from getting distracted and negatively impacting your immediate work.

                          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                          12. Focus@Will – Boost Your Attention Span

                            This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400% using Focus@Will, making this one of the best time management apps available.

                            Focus@will is ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working, or reading. It also helps you control your ADD.

                            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                            13. Alfred – Interact With Your Computer in a Smart Way

                              This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want. The only downside is that it’s only available for macOS.

                              Available on desktop (macOS)

                              14. Forest – Boost Your Focus by Growing a Forest

                                Forest is a unique reinvention of time management apps. This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track by making you focus on another thing.

                                The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                                Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop (Firefox Add-on)

                                15. Trello – Track Your projects in a highly visual way

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                                  Trello is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board, which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed. This serves as your cue to start working on and completing the associated tasks.

                                  Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                  16. Quire – Unfold Your Ideas

                                    Quire is an innovative time management app that helps boost your team’s productivity. The strength of this app lies in its features for collaboration and ease of sharing. You can streamline and adjust your workflow based on your team’s needs and preferences.

                                    Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                    17. TimeTree – Have a Shared Calendar With Your Family

                                      This TimeTree app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments with each other. So, whether you’re planning a party or running a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                      Available on iOS and Android

                                      18. Todoist – Capture and Order All Your Tasks and Activities Easily

                                        Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list and one of the best time management apps out there. It’s available via browser and app, and it lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as a given due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                        Final Thoughts

                                        The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools available. And the good news is that many of them are completely free of charge!

                                        So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you, and begin boosting your productivity now!

                                        More Productivity and Time Management Apps

                                        Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

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