Written by Niamh O'Reilly

In an age of increasing speed and convenience, productivity remains to be something we seem to struggle with. From trying to make sense of multiple ideas, to working collaboratively, to simply trying to keep track of never-ending to-do lists — being meaningfully productive can be a tough skill to master.

Luckily, technology has come a long way in helping us make sense of our busy lives. There are lots of tools available to speed up tasks and help us keep track of everything we need to do. And more are coming to market all the time.

Reflect is one such tool. Launched on Product Hunt in October 2021, Reflect is an integrated note-taking tool designed to help professionals be more productive by meeting them where they’re at. By connecting with apps like Kindle and Google Calendar — and by making it incredibly easy to capture notes from Chrome — Reflect acts as a connective layer between your thoughts, learnings and to-dos.

Users are raving about its performance and efficiency. So we took a dive in to see just how it works, and how it can help you be more productive.

First, a look at what it means to be “productive”

Whether you’ve been running a company for decades or you’re starting a new business venture, developing productive habits is critical to success. It’s what stands between you and increased profitability, competitiveness in the marketplace, increased engagement and optimized resources. 

If you or your employees aren’t productive, it’s likely that you’ll become demotivated and disengaged with the work, becoming burned out and frustrated over time.

Productivity is a way of keeping momentum up, creating a positive feedback loop that’s better for your staff and the business, and, since time is money, improving business costs. In fact, research from Hubspot shows that low productivity costs employers around $1.8 billion every year.

Anne-Laure Le Cunff, who is loved in Twitter community for her teachings on productivity, believes there’s a more holistic meaning to being productive:

It’s this concept of a “matrix” — that productivity is a multi-faceted skill — that Reflect aims to cater to.

So what is Reflect?

Committing to memory everything we need to do or think about can be hard work. If we don’t make to-do lists, it’s inevitable we’ll miss or forget things. But beyond just writing lists, creating a habit of note-taking to build a second brain can actually improve your memory and ability to comprehend information.

This is the idea behind Reflect.

At its core, Reflect is a note-taking app. But unlike some other bigger players, Reflect makes it intuitive and easy to track and categorize thoughts and ideas, whether you’re online or offline and regardless of device. 

With Reflect, you can create tags to categorize your thoughts and integrate it with other tools such as text clipped from the web or your Kindle highlights. Designed to be as frictionless as possible, Reflect makes it easier to organize your thoughts once they’re out of your head, so you can make connections and formulate decisions with ease.

What are the best features of Reflect for boosting productivity?

Note-taking apps, whichever tool you choose, need to be quick to be worthwhile additions to your day.

But they also need to be frictionless. No one wants to be forced to make decisions when entering notes that prevent you from getting on with the task at hand. Files or folders can force structure onto individuals who may not work best that way — something that Reflect eradicates.

We asked some people who regularly use and rely on Reflect to help them stay organized and be more productive.

1. Tags

Ben Tossell, founder and CEO at Makerpad, explains that the ability to tag ideas speeds up his routine considerably:

“It helps me tag aspects of my life so that everything can be found more easily. Because all notes have been tagged, all of my thoughts and ideas get grouped together to become more digestible when I come back to them. So, it’s like a secondary brain storing everything for me."

Gary Warner, Marketing Manager at Joloda Hydraroll, explains:

“Reflect is becoming one of my must-have tools. I think it’s the first note-taking tool I’ve used where I’ve not ended up in a mess trying to create a system for everything and keep it all organized. Instead, I am actually saving time as I can find what I need easily”.

2. Backlinks

Reflect’s ‘append only’ feature makes it easier to tag information onto existing notes, rather than overwrite them completely.

This mirrors how we think naturally, something that James Parkinson, Head of Marketing Content at Personnel Checks, loves:

“My favorite feature is the way it encourages you to build associations between notes by amending and adding backlinks. It makes sense for how my brain works. Being able to view what I was doing on a particular day has been really helpful in helping me to reflect on how I do things and find ways I can make improvements to my productivity.”

Phil Freo, Sr. Director of Engineering at Close says:

“The backlinks feature helps me easily pull up notes regarding a particular topic in a variety of ways. For example, I could find the same call notes based on either the day I took them, the person I spoke with, or the project we discussed."

Similarly, our minds work by association and that’s something that Reflect mirrors so we can recall tasks and ideas more easily later on. This is a feature Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations at Force by Mojio, particularly enjoys:

“It provides one all-encompassing space for me to jot down my thoughts, goals and daily to-do's. I like being able to back-link my notes. It helps me remember how I got to where I am, and it keeps my thoughts from getting jumbled up. It’s a powerful feature that connects notes together for easier navigation."


 

For some who have systems in place that already work for them, Reflect may not be a tool that is necessary. Take Ann Martin, Director of Operations at CreditDonkey:

“Reflect’s methods of helping me keep track of them conflicted directly with my own and made things more confusing. I've heard great things from others, but this one just isn't for me”.

3. Integration

However, for many others, it’s a tool that can help you collect notes from various places, therefore enhancing productivity.

For Jonathan Tian, Co-Founder of Mobitrix, one of the primary functions of Reflect for improving productivity is being able to align notes with Google Calendar:

“Reflect helps us review our notes daily, weekly, and monthly basis. We can note our important work, and if we forget after that, it will remind us, so we can do that work with an increase in productivity. We can arrange our timetable for the whole day and then be more productive than ever before”. 


 

Phil Freo states that "the backlinks note-taking approach isn’t unique to Reflect. However I think Reflect does the best job creating a well-designed opinionated note-taking tool that also includes some extra handy features like a calendar integration (to make it easier to take notes on each meeting) and Kindle sync.

A simple yet powerful Chrome extension also allows users to capture snippets and make notes while browsing or working on the web:

4. Mobile app

Chris Carella, Head of Product at Nacci, shares his thoughts:

“I’ve used all the tools for thought software and what I think makes Reflect stand out is the mobile app. Many of the other tools don’t treat mobile as a first class citizen or have a mobile app at all. In this mobile-first world, mobile apps are table stakes for productivity software.”

5. Brain graph

Once you've been using Reflect for a while, and making use of tags and backlinks, a neat feature within the app is the brain graph. This lets you see your notes as a 'whole' and realize where and how most connections across notes take place.

Which roles can Reflect particularly help with?

1. Remote workers

Reflect can assist people in a variety of roles, particularly people working remotely. Take Harriet Chan, Co-founder and Marketing Director of CocoFinder, whose role requires a high level of productivity to produce high-quality work and deliver excellent results.

“Reflect has been the best digital aid to my productivity. It helps me schedule my meetings in advance and distribute my other engagements accordingly to ensure I can stay on top of things at all times”.


 

2. Busy CEOs

For Denis Leskovets, CEO and Product Specialist at Office Consumer, the app has proven to be vital for organization and productivity:

“This very creative application allows me to focus on my goals by repeatedly reflecting on them. My day gets so busy that before it used to be so difficult for me to keep track of important to-do of the day and thus, I missed them. Thanks to this application, all my meetings, notes, and thoughts are organized in one place.

Reflect lets me be super productive in terms of having organized records so that I utilize my energy into what is necessary, and do not have to be consumed in recalling what to do, what has been done.”

Adam Wathan, Tailwind’s creator, raves about it too:

But it doesn’t stop there; Reflect is an ideal tool for anyone looking to systemize their life and thoughts. If any of the below sound like you:

  • You read a lot, and take inspiration from what you read
  • You like to write
  • You takes a lot of notes but don’t necessarily organize them in the most optimal way
  • You wish you could recall information more easily
  • You’re busy and don’t have the time to efficiently store your thoughts, notes, pinned learnings etc in one place

Then Reflect might be an app worth checking out.

Final thoughts

With productivity so integral to businesses, having tools in place to help rather than hinder is vital. Reflect is an app that works in an intuitive way to help us align and organize our thoughts in a simpler way, improving productivity in the process.


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