3 Productivity Apps That Helped Me Stay On Track Last Fall


Last Fall was a crazy experience, in a good way. I moved to San Francisco, shifted my major, and started learning about an entirely new field that I had zero knowledge about. It was both scary and exciting at the same time. From Illustration to Interaction Design, I jumped head on to uncertain waters. Design was a whole new realm for me and despite having some experience with it from my time as a Freelance Illustrator, it was entirely different studying it. Every day during the semester, I felt enlightened with a new insight that I learned in class and I picked up a different mindset and skillset that changed the way I approach things, especially with my work. 

Prior to using any of these applications, I was a traditionalist in every sense. I love keeping a journal and writing things down. But as my mindset and my practice changed, so did the tools that I used. I slowly turned to technology for efficiency and convenience. Between the mounting projects that we get from class and the work that needed to be done, I needed a virtual organizer that would help me stay on track. That being said, I swear by these three apps that helped raise my productivity last Fall:



A life-saver to tracking my expense.


I've been using this handy app since 2016 which was when my sister introduced it to me. It's an efficient and visually pleasing money tracker that categorize your expense and income. It also gives you a summary of what you spent on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. On top of that, it has a neat feature of inputting your budget and telling you the remaining balance that you can spend on a certain month.


Why I Love Using It

Recently, I updated my app and noticed that they added a feature of inputing recurring payments. This one is helpful with expense that you pay periodically with the same amount, like monthly bills or certain apps that you're subscribed to.

Last Fall, I resolved to being more consistent with tracking my expense; especially since I recently moved in to a new apartment and I'm responsible for managing our household bills, utilities and whatnot.  

While I have been consistent with tracking my expense, I haven't been as consistent with tracking my income and savings (since I barely have any). So this year I aim to use it more efficiently by keeping track of that financial aspect and do my best to save up. It sucks that I don't have savings in my account. It has honestly been difficult for me, but this year I won't resolve to any of my lame excuses. It's going to be my priority. Even if that means giving up my gym membership. 

Disclaimer: Figures presented are only used as example and does not denote to real personal expense.

Download Monny on iTunes App Store.



A charming and distraction free writing app that features editing tools that gives the user freedom in creating quick notes to thought-out prose. 


Whenever I need to tap out those ideas that ends up as a blog post, I have the efficiency to do it with Bear

The unique thing that I appreciate about this app is that it has a word count, read time, and can export the file into Word Doc, PDF, and HTML which I believe sets it apart from the other note-taking apps (aside from the beautiful interface, of course). 

Last Fall, I mainly used this app for taking notes during class discussions, talks or simply brain dumping ideas for projects. I used less and less of journals and writing on paper because I wanted to lessen the things I had to bring with me on days that sketchbooks weren't necessary. In class, we had a lot of studio time and mostly we were stuck on our laptops working on our prototypes and design that I didn't find the need to bring notebooks with me since I can simply type out my notes.


Why I Love Using It

I found this app extremely useful for note-taking when I read articles online or if we were given readings (all of which were in PDF) and we had to sketchnote the sh*t out of it. It helps to read and outline the ideas as I go through the material before I have to sketch out the important stuff. I found it more effective with this approach and I get to breeze over the material quickly. With this app, I extremely appreciate the Heading Formats because it created visual hierarchy for me that made it easier to organize the readings into chunks and sections. 

Lately, I've resorted to typing my daily musings on this app. At the beginning of the year, I started writing down a few lines each day to create consistency with my writing and so that I can build my vocabulary and skills. 

Download Bear on iTunes App Store / Visit Bear Writer Website


Google Keep

A simple note-keeping app that works and looks like a sticky note. 


I first saw Google Keep being used by my friend in class while she was listing her to-do's on her MacBook. Curious (and a bit interested about the visual interface) I asked her what it was. Ever since I downloaded the app on my phone and my laptop, it's been a life changer. 

Goodbye Planner, Hello Google Keep.

For someone like me who loves to write my to-do's, especially on sticky notes, this has been a cost and energy efficient alternative . When I use sticky notes, one of my main problem is that I usually keep transferring and re-doing my to-do's every time I cross a bunch of things out. I get visually distracted and lose sight of the ones that I still haven't checked off my list. For that reason, I tend to spend too much time on rewriting and re-organizing my sticky notes and end up using too many of it that I sometimes lose space on my planner on where to post them. It was crazy. Although, in retrospect it was satisfying because it made me feel like I'm productive, when in truth most of my time and energy goes to organizing and fixing. It was extremely frustrating, but I know it was a me problem. 

Reflecting on it, I also realized that I unnecessarily spend money on planners and I simply discard them after a year. Even though I love being traditional and using planners, I knew I had to change my system if I wanted to be more energy and cost efficient. Discovering Google Keep kept the weight off on organizing my lists and increased my productivity level because I didn't have to worry about spending my time and energy on writing, replacing and re-organizing my notes (and thinking way too much about it). 


Why I Love Using It

The main feature that I love about this app is that it seamlessly integrates on the web, on my laptop and on my phone, which gives it the ultimate accessibility. If I'm at campus and I don't have access to my phone or my laptop, I simply need to sign in to my Google Account, on the campus computer and I can already check the things that I need to do. On top of that the simplicity of the interface makes it user-friendly and doesn't get in the way of productivity planning.

Download Google Keep on iTunes App Store  / Visit Google Keep Website

Google Keep.png

There are a thousand apps out there in the virtual world that are similar to these, and these three aren't something that's new to the market. It's the same app, different features. But after trying out a bunch of different applications on these three aspects, I found that these worked best for me.

I'm guessing you might have something similar that you are currently using and if you do, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.  If not, and you're still someone who is searching for the right money tracker or note keeper, (or maybe you're already using one of these apps) maybe this can be something that would finally work wonders for you and if it did, I would also love to hear your about your experience!