Timothy Armes' blog

Life as I experience it…


Organising a mobile life in 2011

In what has proved to be a very popular post I explained how I keep organised by centralising my daily information such as emails, calendars and tasks.  That post was written in 2009 and it’s still largely applicable to how I work today; nevertheless I get enough questions about it to justify an update.

If you haven’t read the first post, then you might like to do that first….

The most important thing for me is to have access to my daily operations at all times, whether I’m on the road with my iPhone or in the office on a Mac. I use applications that simplify my life rather than adding more complexity, and I like my software to be elegant with great attention to user interface design.  The attention to detail that some developers are applying to their software is astounding, and this appeals to my sensibilities as a photographer.

The essentials – email, contacts & calendar

Google currently remains my central storage for emails, contacts and my calendar.  Storing this sort of information “in the cloud” means that it’s accessible from anywhere and is easy to synchronise with all the devices that I use. I have many reasons for choosing Google, but one of the most critical features that GMail offers me is the ability to send emails from my various aliases, so emails appear to comes from timothyarmes.com and not gmail.com.

On the iPhone I use the standard email application to receive my mails (although I went through the longer setup sequence to use my GMail aliases), and I synchronise the calendars and contacts using Google Sync. I view my calendars using Calvetica because I’m a sucker for beautifully crafted user interfaces that work like a dream.

On the Mac I now use Sparrow as my email client (here’s hoping that it’ll come to iOS too), and BusySync to synchronise my calendar with iCal.  Contacts are synchronised with the built in address book.


I continue to use Remember The Milk for complex task handling where I need to be reminded about things on due dates such as checking up on image licences.  There’s an app for iOS devices and the web interfaces suffices for the desktop.

For general lists however, such as shoot planning, I found that RTM tends to get in the way more than it helps, and this had been true of all the task management alternatives that I’d tried.  Most task management solutions are simply too powerful for 99% of my demands, and actually slow me down in their need for a highly structured approach.

Fortunately I fell upon a great solution called Task Paper. Task Paper is just a list of tasks formatted cleverly – it’s elegant, quick to use, and stays out of the way. It syncs with a companion iPhone app that’s just as pleasant, and it’s a quintessential example the sort of software I prefer to use. HogBay software are offering a big discount until Friday (and that’s what provoked me into writing this post now).


Dropbox remains my favourite way to synchronise important documents whilst also providing an off-site backup. Lots of applications now use Dropbox to ensure synchronisation of data too, so it’s become even more useful. I also like the way that I can share folders with clients and colleagues.

Other tools

I use a number of other tools to help keep things running smoothly – here’s a quick list

  • 1Password – Passwords and other important information are securely stored using 1Password and sync’d across my devices using DropBox. Thanks to this program I no longer have one password for all my logins!
  • EchoFon – Keeps me up to date with Twitter and it’s synchronised across all my devices.
  • Instapaper – A great place to store things for reading later, whenever you get a chance.
  • Flipboard – My favourite iPad application for staying abreast of Facebook, Twitter, my RSS Feeds (via Google Reader), Flickr and general news, all beautifully presented in a magazine format. If support’s added for reading things stored in my Instapaper account then I’ll be in heaven.
  • LogMeIn Ignition – Access to my Mac’s screen and files from anywhere (you’ll need the free client too).
  • Sunseeker – OK, this isn’t used for staying organised, but it’s such an important tool for photographer’s that I feel compelled to mention it anyway.
  • Dialvetica – It’s the minor things that give the most satisfaction :)

3 Responses to “Organising a mobile life in 2011”

  1. Matt Dawson says:

    Thanks for publishing this Tim! I’m currently trying to work out what apps I should be installing on my iPad when it arrives and there are some good suggestions here.

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