As a lifelong student of the creative process, I’ve tested many different tools and apps. I’m always on the hunt for anything that will support the way our creativity works, as well as inspire us to even greater creations. So to help ease your creative flow, here are a few of my favourite apps for creativity – and happily, they’re all available for free.
Note-taking is a powerful creative habit. It’s popular among many great creatives – Richard Branson and Jack Canfield have spoken often about how they use notebooks to capture their creative musings and inspired ideas. After all, everyone has great ideas but not everyone takes the time to make a note of them, to save them from being lost and forgotten amid the busyness of life. So, the easier it is to fit a note-taking habit into our lives, the more likely we will stop to capture those gems. Which is why I love the Notes app.
It’s simple, it’s free and it’s already installed on most Apple devices. There are no gimmicks or confusing features. It’s just an easy place to quickly record any inspired downloads.
I use it often during the workday but it’s also a constant companion when I’m out walking. I find the best ideas often come to us when we’re not at work, so when they do, I am ready to pin them down with my Notes app. And because it’s on all my devices, it’s almost always close by and easy to access. It takes seconds to make a note, but those inspired ideas could save me hours of struggling in future.
NOTE! Taking notes is only one part of turning our great ideas into great work. To truly harness the magic of being a prolific note-taker, we need to support that with a habit of reviewing and organising those notes.
Which brings us nicely onto my next favourite creativity app…
Evernote is the place I sort my many notes into some kind of order. Some may go on to become a blog post or social update. Others may be the beginnings of a new course or even a book or business venture. Evernote makes it so easy to sort notes into ‘project buckets’, or as they call them: Notebook stacks.
And within each stack, you can have any number of notebooks to break your project down into manageable chunks.
There are different options to view your notes, so you can zoom out for that all-important Big Picture overview, then you can drill down to the specific notes you want to work on. My book ideas and ecourses often emerge from my Notebook Stacks. After trying many different ways of managing mountains of content or big creative projects, I find Evernote suits the way my mind works. We creatives can often have more ideas than we can handle! Evernote helps me to retain that vital sense of order in my creative adventures.
“Making a list can be a creative thing to do.”
~ David Allen
I agree with Mr Allen – making a list can be really inspiring! It’s a powerful act of focus. In a similar way to mind-mapping, it seems to kick-start the creative process in our minds. When we list the first steps or tasks, the cogs begin to turn and gain momentum. We’re led to new ideas and unexpected routes that would never have appeared if we hadn’t taken the time to list our initial thoughts. So if you’re sold on the creative benefits of list-making, I recommend the wonderful Wunderlist app. There are many To Do list apps, but this is my favourite, possibly because I can customise the interface to make it beautiful and inspiring – the visuals of an app are so important for nourishing the creative soul. It’s clean and simple and just works well in making and organising lists. I also love the ability to ‘batch’ lists into folders, or to make sub-lists to break the items down into those productivity-friendly baby steps.
But my favorite feature is the satisfying ‘Ping!” noise when a list item is completed. This isn’t just a bit of fun – neuroscience has proven that when we acknowledge the completion of a task, our brains release endorphins, the ‘happy hormone’ – we humans love to get things done! So that little noise reinforces this pleasurable sense of completion. It’s also a powerful message to our subconscious mind that we are productive, we are ‘Finishers’, and this is a great mindset to reinforce if we want to see our creative dreams become realities.
You are creative
We are all creative beings. But sometimes we need a little help in taking the marvellous musings of our mind and turning them into real life creations. So, I hope you’ll explore these apps to support your wonderful creative projects. Because when you take those genius ideas out of your head and start to shape them into concrete form, they begin to take on a life of their own, making their way into the world where the rest of us can enjoy the fruits of your creativity.
Next month we’ll be exploring Part 2 of this series; Apps for Inspiration