As we head into fall with plans to finish the year strong, I thought it was a good time to give an update on some of the productivity tools that help me get the right things done.
A few of the productivity tools I use almost every day
In past episodes I’ve shared some of the tools I use to manage various aspects of my professional and personal life. Someone recently asked me for my current recommendations, and I thought I’d share them with you.
- Evernote is like my external brain–it’s where I keep documents and information I will need to refer to again. I store lists of podcast topics, manuals for my equipment, articles I want to use as resources for a blog post, receipts, and software licenses–pretty much anything you can think of. You can scan documents and photos if you want to go more paperless, and use the web clipper to save articles and items you find on the internet. Evernote lets you assign one or more tags to anything you save there, and the search function makes it easy to find anything within seconds. Possible alternatives for Evernote include OneNote and (for Mac or iOS only) Apple Notes.
- I use Dropbox as a digital working file cabinet. If you are going to need to work on the document and make changes to it, you can save it there and access it from anywhere. It allows you to share documents with others securely. Alternatives to Dropbox could be Google Drive or (for Mac or iOS only) iCloud.
- Lastpass is a password manager, a service that generates and securely stores your passwords. (Hint: Don’t use the word “password” as your online password.) Lastpass can securely log you into your various online accounts, working as an extension in your browser. Another alternative for a password manager is 1Password.
- TripIt: TripIt is a website (with corresponding mobile apps) dedicated to managing travel information such as rental cars, hotels, flights, etc. You can forward all of your travel email info to your account and it will save all the details in one place. TripIt Pro will also alert you if your flight changes, a better seat is available, or there’s a gate change. (TripIt’s alerts often show up even before the airline’s.)
- Amazon Prime: When I first signed up for an Amazon Prime membership, the only real benefit was free 2-day shipping for most items sold on Amazon.com. Now they offer many more benefits, including free streaming movies, TV shows, music, e-books, and more. For me, it’s well worth the annual fee.
- Freedom is an app for your computer and mobile devices that allows you to temporarily block your access to websites you specify, so you can avoid temptation and stay focused on your work. This is helpful when you need focused work time and do not want to be distracted by social media or other sites that might hinder your productivity.
- Focus@will provides music and sound playlists to help you stay focused while you work. It has a variety of playlists you can choose from, depending upon your preferences and your thinking “style.” The playlist for someone who needs more stimulation (an extrovert, for example, or a person with attention deficit) will be busier and more stimulating. Conversely, if you are someone who needs quieter, more soothing music, you can choose a playlist more suitable for your style. The music channels are scientifically optimized to increase concentration and productivity.
- TextExpander: TextExpander allows you to create snippets or abbreviations that will expand into a longer piece of text, which will save you time typing. Anything you type more than a couple times can be saved in TextExpander, with a “snippet” you create. You type a few characters, instead of retyping URLs, phone numbers–anything you can imagine, including several paragraphs of formatted text. It’s a huge timesaver for me, something I use many times a day.
- Speed Dial 2 extension for Chrome – The Speed Dial 2 extension makes it easy to access all of your favorite websites in one place. You can create a button for each website you visit frequently and order them how you would like, all on one browser page.
- Google Docs allows you to collaborate with others all in one document. It’s incredibly simple to share folders or documents with other people, and more than one person can be working in the document simultaneously!
- Typeform is an online tool that allows you to create clean, easy-to-use surveys and forms.
- FreshBooks makes billing and collecting money from your clients or customers a breeze. You can create and track invoices and collect payments, as well as generate reports for income and expenses.
- Zoom is a video conferencing platform. I use it for meetings of The Productive Woman Mastermind groups and for one-on-one coaching, but it’s got a ton of uses: collaborating with co-workers, online meetings of your writers’ critique group or charity planning committee, family chats, etc. You can see each other, share screens, and use a chat feature on the side to include links. You can also record the session so you can watch it again later.
- Social Jukebox allows you to schedule Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts and is very easy to use.
- Mailchimp is a mailing list manager. It is simple to set up and has different templates. It’s a versatile tool that lets you create different sub-groups within your main email list. It’s free for up to (I think) 200o list members.
- Adobe Spark Post is an online Adobe app that allows you to create images for social media. You can use their images or upload your own, add text, and then save and duplicate to quickly resize it for the right size for any social media platform. There are many different themes and color schemes to choose from, so even an artistically challenged person like me can come up with nice-looking social media images in a matter of minutes. (And it’s free!)
What do you think?
Have you tried any of these productivity tools? Or are there others I missed that you can’t work without? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below, or on Facebook–either the TPW Facebook page or the TPW Community Facebook group!
- If you haven’t already done so, please join me in the new The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, a private group where we can meet up and interact more—directly ask questions, share info, insights, and encouragement—basically talk about productivity. Find the group on Facebook and click the “join” button. I’d love to see you there.
- If you’re looking for encouragement, motivation, accountability in achieving your goals and moving forward in a life that matters, consider joining the next session of The Productive Woman Mastermind groups. Fall 2016 groups are underway as this episode is published, but new groups will start right after the first of the year. I only can open a limited number of spaces each quarter because I keep the groups very small, and because of other time commitments I can only facilitate 2-3 paid groups a quarter. If you want to participate, get to the top of the list by applying now. Visit the Work with Me page for more information and a link to the online application form, and email me if you have questions.
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