My day starts with just five keystrokes.
Using some Alfred app-launching magic, my computer springs to life. Slack, Things, Chrome, Spotify, and Simplenote are all ready to go. Within seconds, my command center is up-and-running.
The core apps—the ones I couldn't imagine working without—have remained consistent over the past several months, but I'm always tinkering with one or two cogs in the machine. Most recently, I kept Day One running in the background to log daily activities. I'm also guilty of switching back and forth between to-do apps in an effort to find peak productivity (I'm fully aware of the irony).
We're always interested in hearing about the apps that others are using, especially if they're writers or marketers. From managing content schedules to outlining blog posts, every writer I speak with has a very particular and personal workflow that helps them get it all done. And without fail, I leave these app-centric conversations with a few ideas for my own process.
So we asked some of our most prolific peers: Which apps do you open up when you start working?
The Most Popular
Spoiler alert. The most popular apps the 18 marketers and writers we spoke with use to open the workdays were:
- Slack and HipChat are used by more than half of the 18 individuals, with 11 relying on Slack and 5 opening up HipChat
- Trello is a part of the office morning routines for four marketers
- Evernote is used by four individuals as the place they keep their notes, to-dos and project tasks
- A dominant writing or editing app didn't prevail, instead these marketers and writers rely on tools ranging from the popular Google Docs and Apple's Pages to lesser-known Mac apps like Paragraphs and FoldingText and new online collaborative editing tools like Beegit and Draft
- Background noise is big but how it's delivered is split: iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Audible, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Deezer, SimplyNoise and Mixcloud are all used
- Task management apps are a must, but there isn't a dominate audience's choice among this group. Tools used include Trello, MeisterTask, iDoneThis, TeuxDeux, Apple Reminders and Todoist
Chief Content Officer at CloudPeeps • @shannnonb • Brooklyn, New York
When I start working, I open Slack, Rdio, Asana, Facebook, TeuxDeux, and Gmail.
- Beyond our CloudPeeps HQ network, I'm a member of a few other communities on Slack including one for our Peep community, so I like to check in on in them quickly to see what's new.
- Rdio is my music streaming service of choice. I have a hard time doing anything without music.
- Asana is what we use for task and project management. Just a quick look reminds me of my most pressing projects for the day and any looming deadlines.
- We have a really active community on Facebook. After getting settled with my coffee, I like to check in and see what I've missed, and if there are any questions I can answer.
- TeuxDeux is my personal go-to for any smaller tasks that don't warrant being added to Asana.
- I like to check back in on email to see if anything has popped up since getting started with the day.
Jacob Sam-La Rose
Poet, Educator, Creative Consultant, and Editor • @jsamlarose • London, England
When I start working, I open Mail, FoldingText, Evernote, iThoughts and iTunes.
- I've got Apple's Mail app set up with a few plugins and tweaks so it meets my needs. Mail is a necessary evil, a buffer between the demands of the outside world and my own priorities. It takes up way too much of my day, but I do as best as I can to get out of my inbox and onto my task list as quickly as possible.
- FoldingText is great for plain text productivity. It's where all my tasks and priorities live, but also allows me to get writing done.
- For more in-depth planning or mapping out thoughts, mind-mapping app iThoughts is a boon. Evernote is my digital filing cabinet.
- I have a sizable music library (no Spotify here!) so iTunes offers up the soundtrack for my working hours, with a little support from SoundCloud and Bandcamp when I'm in the mood for something new.
Content Crafter at Buffer • @kevanlee • Boise, Idaho
When I start working, I open Sqwiggle, Trello, HipChat, and Gmail. I have all these pinned to my Chrome browser, so they open automatically when I start up. If there were any tabs that I didn't finish the night before, I'll pin them so that they open for me first thing in the morning.
- Sqwiggle is our virtual meeting space where we video chat with one another. If I'm working on the computer, I have my Sqwiggle open so that my teammates can see me and I can see them. It's a cool way to stay connected with a visual of my remote work friends, and it's easy to click on anyone to chat whenever.
- Trello is what we use to organize our blog post ideas for the Buffer blog, and I personally use it in a couple of ways: 1) a daily to-do list and 2) an idea swipe file.
- HipChat is our virtual office where we chat with one another over text. We share links, pipe in blog comments and notifications, and just generally hang out all day when we're online.
- Gmail, for checking email. I use the priority inbox and colored labels so I can quickly see the most important messages I need to answer right away.
Blogger at Lifehacker • @andyorin • New York City, New York
When I start working, I check Pidgin, Gmail, Slack, and Tweetdeck.
- Pidgin is for instant messaging.
- Slack is our company-wide communication tool.
- Tweetdeck is how I primarily follow the news; I have columns dedicated to tech news, journalists, and a thousand people I follow in the unfiltered stream.
Marketing Manager at Customer.io • @lethargarian • Brooklyn, New York
When I start working, I open Slack, Respond.ly, Notes, Pages or Draft, and Customer.io.
- We're a remote team, so opening up Slack is like walking into the office. I can sync up with what's been going on (including our Mention and iDoneThis channel) and greet whoever's up.
- We use Respond.ly to manage Twitter responses, so I always check in to see if there are any new support issues and to communicate with people who have questions or have shared our content.
- I'll check the default Mac Notes app, which I use for jotting down random notes, ideas, and to-do's. It's simple, syncs with my phone, and search works well enough.
- I also like using Pages to write because it's offline and separate from the heaps of browser tabs I probably have open. Otherwise, I'll open up Draft, especially if it's collaborative work.
- I keep Customer.io open, in case I need to look up customer or newsletter subscriber information or use it to answer a support issue.
Belle Beth Cooper
Co-founder of Exist, content crafter at Ghost • @bellebcooper • Melbourne, Australia
When I start working, I have five pinned tabs in my browser: Monday, MeisterTask, Exist, Littlelogs, and Asana. I also keep a few apps open all the time: Telegram, 2Do, Deezer, and Slack.
- I keep my daily to do list in Monday, which never has more than four or five items. Monday also syncs with my calendar, so I can see if I have appointments during the day.
- MeisterTask is where I keep ideas for future content work, along with a calendar of the content I'm working on. Each piece I finish stays in MeisterTask so I can track its progress through the publishing and payment process.
- I use Asana for managing collaborative tasks for both Exist and Ghost. The comments for each task are especially useful for throwing in related links and remembering previous discussions when I come back to a task.
- Exist stays in a pinned tab so I can switch to it throughout the day and see how close I am to hitting my activity and productivity goals. I can also see if I'm on a streak of hitting my goals, and check for new insights about my data.
- I use Littlelogs to track and share my work progress, and to discuss work with other people. I keep it open during the day so I can keep up with what other people are working on and join in discussions.
- I use Telegram with my co-founder, Josh, to discuss pretty much everything. We use Slack for a couple of specific things, like dumping ideas for future podcast episodes so they're searchable, but general discussions take place in Telegram.
- I use 2Do for task management. It's especially useful for recurring tasks, since I have lots of different periods when tasks recur for Exist.
- Deezer is my music streaming app of choice. I mostly listen to full albums, and switch between musical theatre scores, avant garde classical, and folk pop.
- In Slack I switch between four teams: Hello Code, which is just me and Josh; Exist Club, which is a small group of Exist users who support each other to build healthy habits; Ghost, which is full of both work discussions and cheeky banter; and iOS Developers, which is a really friendly community of iOS devs who share ideas and help each other out.
The rest of the apps I use depend on what I'm working on (I close everything I'm not using — I'm fanatical about "cleaning as I go"). If I'm writing, I'll open iA Writer Pro. If I'm clearing out my inbox, I'll open Mailbox. If I'm coding, I'll open Dash for documentation, AppCode for coding, the iOS Simulator, and occasionally Xcode as well.
Content Strategist at Help Scout • @gregoryciotti • Wilmington, Delaware
When I start working, I use Slack, Paragraphs, Simplynoise, and iTunes.
- I often log out of Slack for long periods to focus. To make up for this, I have push notifications enabled on my phone—but only for direct messages.
- For ad copy, landing pages, or posts on the Help Scout blog, I'm currently using Paragraphs. I also recommend the classics: iAWriter, Byword, and good ol' Microsoft Word.
- Simplynoise on the Pink Noise setting is what I prefer over music, but only when writing.
- When moving through lighter tasks, I listen to music in iTunes, with a library that is long overdue to be cleaned out.
CEO and Founder of Groove • @alexmturnbull • Newport, Rhode Island
When I start working, I open Groove, Slack, Screenhero, Pandora, and Trello.
- I'm in Groove all day, every day. Keeping up with our customers is my biggest priority, so I always have a Groove tab open in Chrome.
- As a distributed company, we use Slack to stay in touch as a team, and Screenhero when we want to connect one-on-one.
- Pandora keeps me sane. I usually start with something mellow like Adele radio, and get progressively more upbeat as the day wears on and I need more of a boost.
- Trello is where we manage our workflow, and I always have it open to see what people are working on and to help prioritize my own tasks.
Content Strategist at Wistia • @notalyce • Somerville, Massachusetts
When I start working, I check HipChat, Fortune, SoundCloud, Mixcloud, Trello, and iDoneThis.
- Logging into HipChat, which we use for company-wide chat, helps me get an idea of how things are at Wistia on a given day. Are there any immediate concerns? What's the overall morale around the office? Is there anything I can help anybody with before I begin my own routine?
- This is a silly one, but I've found myself more addicted than expected to Zach Gage's cute game, Fortune, that generates random fortunes from tweets. It injects a little bit of silliness and serendipity into the day, and my friends and I often share our best fortunes with one another via text.
- I check SoundCloud and Mixcloud for the latest music and save a queue of music (usually techno and house DJ mixes) in Pocket to get me through the rest of the day, assuming I don't have too many meetings to listen to music!
- I use iDoneThis to keep track of what I've finished, and a paper notebook to keep up with a checklist of priorities. I like having my accomplishments public, and my goals a bit more private.
- Trello's calendar view has changed my life—it's great for keeping up with an editorial calendar!
Freelance Content Marketer • @jimmy_daly • Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
When I start working, I open Mailplane, Trello, Beegit, Google Analytics and ActivityTimer.
- Mailplane is a Mac desktop app for Gmail that makes it easy to manage multiple accounts. (I currently have three!) I check for anything urgent, then promptly close it so I can get on with creative work.
- I keep track of client projects, due dates and editorial calendars in Trello. I peek at it every morning to make sure I know exactly what work needs to be addressed first.
- Beegit is where I write, edit and collaborate with clients. It's a Markdown writing tool mixed with Google Docs, so it makes communication super easy.
- I like to check Google Analytics each morning to see what happened the day before. I also keep real-time analytics running most of the day to monitor traffic to the sites I write for.
- I'm a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique and I use ActivityTimer to keep me focused.
Managing Editor at Intercom • @jaycee001 • Dublin, Ireland
When I start working, I open Slack, Twitter, WordPress, Google Docs and Spotify.
- When I arrive at the office I properly look though Slack to catch up on what's happening around Intercom.
- I open Twitter for Mac and leave it running in the background so I'll be notified if there's anything I need to react to on the Intercom account or my personal one.
- As a writer and editor, I live in Google Docs for collaborating on content, and WordPress once I'm getting it ready for publication.
- Spotify helps me focus. I mostly listen to new electronic music or classic Detroit techno.
Carrie Melissa Jones
Community Consultant and Director of Content at CMX • @caremjo• Seattle, Washington
When I start working, I open Slack, Evernote, Mailbox, and MailChimp.
- We use Slack as a team at CMX, and I'm also part of a few private groups of community and content strategists. I'll see if anything pressing is going on in any of my Slack channels, and I'll use the Asana integration to turn pressing items into to-do list items automatically.
- I'll open up the MailChimp app to see how the CMX mailing list is growing and how our last campaign did.
- If I have a call or interview when I start working, I open Evernote to take notes. It syncs everything in the background so I don't lose any of my notes.
- After I finish one big task in the morning, I'll open my email in Mailbox and start to respond, but not before then.
Content Strategist at Unbounce • @danjl • Montreal, Quebec
When I start working, I fire up HootSuite, HipChat, Spotify and Google Calendar.
- I use HootSuite primarily to manage my Twitter lists, which I use to keep tabs on content publishers, colleagues, friends, folks I admire and other companies/marketers in the space.
- HipChat is our chat tool of choice. We tend to post music videos, weird news stories, gossip and other silly things in the morning until our west coast colleagues wake up and the day gets rolling.
- If my noise-canceling headphones are on, I'm usually listening to Spotify. I like to browse the "new releases" section and listen to albums in full. I'm old-school like that.
- Google Calendar is the only way I'm able to manage my time and my life. I've started scheduling off blocks for myself to work on strategy or just to catch up on emails and reading. That way I make sure my whole day doesn't fill up with meetings (though that doesn't always work), and that important long-term projects don't keep getting bumped off by shining new concerns. And if, for some reason, I don't get to it by the end of the day, I can just slide the event over to tomorrow. Story of my life.
Vice President of Marketing at UserVoice • @connorfee • San Francisco, California
When I start working, I open Google Inbox, Asana, Insight Squared, Sunrise and Google Docs, and of course, HipChat.
- Google Inbox is back to email again. As a manager, I'm not writing code or building things but I do spend a lot of time managing a flood of requests from customers and internal folks. I try not to check it constantly, but it's always there.
- Asana is the best thing that ever happened to team communication and productivity—it keeps noisy threads out of my inbox and makes sure everyone on my team is in sync on key projects.
- Insight Squared lets me know how the team is doing in terms of activity, leads, opportunities, and revenue—all the things I'm ultimately responsible for!
- Sunrise is always running in the background so I'm never too late for a meeting.
- At UserVoice, we use Google Docs to collaborate on projects and share information across the company. We use it for everything from company updates to process-building. If I'm not creating, you'd better bet I'm commenting.
- Finally, HipChat keeps me connected to what's going on at a very real and tactical level. Plus, I love checking our break room—the GIFs are a great way to remind me not to be too serious!
Editor at Crew • @jorymackay • Toronto, Ontario
When I start working, I check Gmail, Facebook, and Medium, and open Slack.
- I only check my (Gmail) inbox twice a day: once after I get my morning writing done, and once in the afternoon (sometimes a third time later in the day). Limiting my inbox time helps me stay focused on the important instead of the urgent tasks.
- Facebook and Medium are where I find a lot of inspiring stories and articles shared by people I know and trust. This is my bread and butter of daily article research.
- Working remotely, Slack is my office. It keeps me connected with the rest of the Crew team and keeps me in check (I use Slackbot as my to-do list, as well as for daily reminders).
Content Marketer at CoSchedule • @njellering • Moorhead, Minnesota
When I start working, I use HipChat, GoToMeeting, Evernote, CoSchedule, WordPress, Campaign Monitor, KISSmetrics, Moz, and Mention.
- We try to avoid internal communication via email, and just stick to chatting through HipChat. It keeps things rolling quicker for casual conversations to get projects done.
- We have our main office in Bismarck, North Dakota, with a satellite office in Fargo. GoToMeeting helps us see each other every day during our scrum meetings, which is super nice to stay connected.
- We plan a lot of our projects beginning with Evernote Business. It's a huge part of our internal organization for strategy—and even writing marketing copy like web pages and blog posts.
- Well, practice what you preach, right? I use CoSchedule every day to plan our marketing with a calendar. I look at our deadlines, and help our team complete projects on time using the workflow and comments in CoSchedule.
- I write a new post nearly every week, and I do a lot of it using WordPress itself to avoid any copying and pasting.
- When we publish our blog posts, we try to capture email addresses to help share helpful content with bloggers and marketers. We use Campaign Monitor to do that for our growing list of 40,000 marketers.
- Content is data. KISSmetrics helps me translate how our work is performing to understand what we should continue doing and what we should stop. This, combined with Google Analytics, are where I find myself nerding out nearly every day.
- I'm an SEO nerd and I'm always anxious to help more folks find CoSchedule content through their natural searches. Moz helps me track my keywords, understand where I'm ranking, and helps me know what to target next.
- We love it when people share CoSchedule content and mention us in their content. Mention helps us know where those conversations are taking place so we can participate.
Copywriter and Content Strategist at Urban Influence • @katestull • Big Lagoon, California
When I start working, I open Evernote, Apple Reminders, Harvest, Slack, and Podcasts or Audible.
- I use Evernote to keep a running to-do list every day. I organize things in chronological order and cross things off as they get done. If my Evernote list ever disappeared, I don't know what I would do.
- I'd be similarly lost without Apple's Reminders, the app that reminds me to go into meetings on time, call people, and take care of the day-to-day life stuff that doesn't make it into my mostly work-focused Evernote.
- I use Harvest to track my time, since I always need to keep track of billable client hours.
- We use Slack to keep in touch at Urban Influence. I am notoriously forgetful about logging in, but I'm getting better! :)
- When I'm banging through to-do's or doing admin tasks in the morning, I like to listen to podcasts in the iPhone's Podcasts app, or an audiobook in Audible, so that I'm getting smarter while getting things done. Otherwise, I tend to work in silence when I'm writing or editing, because music make me feel weirdly moody and distracted.
Marketing at Todoist • @19kane91 • Saint Paul, Minnesota
When I first sit down to work my apps are Todoist, Slack, Gmail, BreakTime.
- My prioritized to-do list lives in Todoist. At the end of each workday, I try to go through my current Todoist projects and schedule my most important tasks for the next day. I'm so much more productive when I'm not wasting time figuring out what to work on in the morning. There are also usually a few comments from coworkers to catch up on for team projects we're collaborating on.
- I have to check in on Slack to see what my super-productive colleagues across the world have been up to while I've been asleep.
- I know it's a deadly sin of productivity, but it makes me feel better to clear the inbox right away in the morning. I take care of anything that will take me 5 minutes or less and then turn the rest into Todoist tasks with the Gmail extension for later in the day.
- Besides Todoist, BreakTime is probably my favorite productivity app. Taking breaks to get up and move around throughout the day is so important for me. But it's so easy to lose track of time. BreakTime blocks me out of my computer for ten minutes every 50 minutes. Super effective.
Take Back Your Workday with Zapier
Priority tasks. Important correspondence. Coffee. Those are the items that should consume the start of your workday; not tediously downloading email attachments or copying to-dos from one app to another. For that, there's Zapier. It's an app integration tool that you can use to automate repetitive tasks.
For example, use Zapier to create Trello cards from emails, or to-dos from Slack messages. And the best part is: it all happens automatically, leaving you time to focus on starting your day your way.
Here are a few ways that you can automate your workday with the apps that our marketers and writers mentioned above:
Start Saving Time with Zapier!
Those are the apps occupying the screen real estate of some of our favorite writers and marketers. What apps complete your morning work routine? Let us know in the comments!