Welcome to another new LOWDOWN, that part of the Production Office that brings you tips and tricks on all the tools you need to enhance your career as a filmmaker and creative.

Today, it’s Productivity.

Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m pretty hot on productivity. For far too long I spent my days being busy, but rarely productive. Since harnessing some of the tools I’m talking about today and putting some best practices of getting things done into place, I’ve become much more focused, much more productive and much more successful.

Let’s have a look, then, at some of the tools you can use to make your life easier.

EVERNOTE

Evernote comes at the top of the list today for two reasons: number one, it’s the tool I was most recently introduced to and two, it’s the tool I now find the most invaluable.

Evernote is a desktop and web-based app that you can also get for almost all smart phones.  It’s free to get started, but if you go over a certain storage limit you have to start paying.  That said, I’ve used it quite a lot and still not exceeded my free allowance.

What Evernote does is to collect together all those bits and pieces of things on the web that you want to take note of, as well as allowing you to compile your own To Do lists, projects and other notes.  It’s the simplest, cheapest and easiest way of keeping track of just about everything you need to remember. The Evernote logo isn’t an elephant for nothing.

THINGS

The second tool that works hard to keep you on time and on-topic is Things. The biggest down side? It’s Mac-only. So all you Windows dinosaurs can’t take advantage of it. You also have to pay around £30 for it, which puts it a step below Evernote to begin with.

Once you get past those elements, though, Things is brilliant for tracking To Do’s, project files, notes and reminders. Most usefully, though – and what helps to elevate Things to a point worth paying for – is it’s interaction and syncability1 with iCal and iPhone. If you use Apple’s MobileMe syncing solution to share your calendar across all your home computers, like I do, Things swaps and shares data seamlessly with not only all of your computers, but your phone as well. An invaluable way of keeping track of everything you need to know when you need to know it.

BASECAMP

There are numerous online project management tools that help you and all your collaborators to keep track of all the strands that make up your project, but the best one I’ve found (and used) is Basecamp.

Unlike other, equally useful online tools like Huddle, it’s Basecamp’s pricing structure that really makes it stand out. You pay a flat monthly fee from $24 (£15) and upwards that allows unlimited numbers of people to join your project and work on things with you. Huddle, by contrast, charges you per user per month, meaning a major film or creative project would quickly rack up sizable fees.

Basecamp2 is best used for sharing documents and keeping track of project timelines and goals in a way that everyone involved can see. Not only is that a great motivational tool – if everyone know what you should be doing, you’d better be doing it – but also a great way of making sure key things don’t get missed and that everyone knows the timeline their working to and the goals their aiming for.

There are hundreds of different tools of productivity for you to explore, but I’d suggest you limit yourself to trying one or two at a time, otherwise you risk undoing all their good work by spending all day getting to know them and setting them up as opposed to using them to help get your work done.

For more o productivity, keep an eye on my blog here, as well as checking out the99percent and lifehacker, my two online bibles of productivity tips and tools.

Some other posts you might like:

  1. new word alert! []
  2. and, in fact, all online project management tools []