Non-Music Software That Keeps My Composing Career Running Smoothly

Posted By: ryan On:

Here are 7 apps I use every single day that don’t actually produce any sound, but keep me productive and organized.

I’ve been using Things for many years. It’s stupidly simple, but the design is so elegant that it’s really delightful to use. As a huge GTD nerd, I fully subscribe to the “capture everything” philosophy. If something doesn’t get entered into Things, odds are it isn’t going to get done. I am super-distractable and so you might ask me to send you a file, but if a squirrel crosses my path on the way to do it then I will probably forget. So the instant I think of something that I have to do, it gets entered into here. I use the Siri integration several times a day.
The more I break something down the better. So I don’t have “Write the happy music”. I turn that into a project and break it down into “come up with concept”, “sketch ideas”, “sketch first draft”, and so on. Every step of the way is an actionable task that can be checked off when it’s done. This helps me get a grasp of the workload and schedule it accordingly.

Evernote is my external brain. I try to store everything I possible can in here. I’ve gone though various organizational methods, but the best one is to tag heavily and then just search for whatever it is I’m looking for.
What kinds of things go into Evernote? Well, this blog post is being written in Evernote. Also notes from directors and producers on current projects, an archive of past projects, “inspiration pages” with images and references for things I’m working on (for example I’m currently working on a few iPhone games, and I have some of the most interesting screen shots for each in their own notes). Recipes, articles, notes on books, random ideas. Receipts, invoices, calendars, schedules.
If I can enter it into Evernote, I probably should.

As I mentioned, I am prone to getting distracted easily, and one helpful way to curb that is to save articles for later. I use Pocket to save anything I’m interested in reading/watching but shouldn’t be in the moment!

Day One
I use Day One for my journal, which serves several purposes. One is a traditional personal journal, where I jot down memories, photos, or thoughts. I also keep my notes on books I’m reading in here, and create an entry for every movie I see or book I read.
I try to write at least once every morning and evening, and I have basic templates set up with prompts for each. The morning journal includes a plan for the day ahead.
I have reminders set up so every Friday I review the past week in Day One, every 1st of the month I review the past month, every quarter I review the past three months, and every January 1st I go back and re-read the entire thing.
I like the design of Day One a lot, but mostly I appreciate the fact that it’s always handy and a few taps away.

I enjoy mind-mapping, but I don’t actually do that much of it. When I do, I’m happy with MindNode. Like all the other apps, I like that I can access it on my Mac, phone, or iPad.

My favorite mail app is probably Google Inbox, and I’m also a big fan of Swipes. Both for the same reason – you can snooze emails for later. I LOVE this feature. But a problem I ran into with Inbox was that the default setting is Reply All. It seems like a minor thing, but I have had a few embarrassing situations where I replied all when I really shouldn’t have, just because of a default setting that I can’t change. So I went back to regular old Mail. It’s not great but it’s fine.

Because I’m so involved in the Apple ecosystem, it is simply easier for me to use the default calendar app than to try to integrate a 3rd party option. I’ve tried a few other options, but the iOS Calender does everything I need it to so I’m sticking with it.

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