This is a list of the many digital tools I use to get through my tasks. I will update this list often, adding and dropping elements as I see fit. There’s no affiliation here. I just wanted to share my methods of productivity. Hopefully, someone will find value in at least one element of the list, and use it for their own endeavors.
Also, I’m open to suggestions if you know of a different tool that would be better than one of the list.
- Freedom: Block the entire internet, no questions asked. A must for writers that want to avoid the internet’s many, many distractions.
- SelfControl: Sometimes you want to focus on a task, but you still need internet connectivity. This app allows you to block specific websites. Caution: Once you turn it on, THERE’S NO TURNING BACK until the time runs out! Not even turning your computer off and on again.
- WriteRoom: A computer full of apps can be as distracting as the internet. Use this to focus your attention only on the text at hand.
- Pomodoro Timer: Remove the decision of having to stop working. Set up a time, and then let Pomodoro tell you when it’s time for a break. Read more about the Pomodoro Technique here.
- Google Apps: For managing URLs.
- Heroku: The system that’s hosting this site. You can host any app, and it’s free if you use only one dyno (most blogs would rarely go beyond one). Caution: there’s a major learning curve for those not familiar with programming, like myself.
- Jekyll: The system that I’m using to build my blog. It’s a blog-aware, static site generator in Ruby. I have all the files on my computer, which means I can edit anything quickly, and then Jekyll puts everything together. The flexibility that the Heroku-Jekyll combo allows is astounding.
- Dropbox: My personal fave to back up and share files on the internet. You can use up to 2 Gigs for free.
- AWeber: My newsletter tool of choice. It provides better analytics than the runner-up, Mailchimp.
- Wufoo: Great for building contact forms, surveys, and more.
- Pingdom: Fantastic little tool that does periodic checks of your website, and immediately warns you if it’s down. You can submit one website for free.
- Feedburner: The best way to handle your RSS feed.
- TextMate: I do all my coding and website building with this amazing piece of software. A must for anyone serious about working with websites.
- Pixelmator: Although I use it rarely, this is my image editing software of choice.
- Skype and Google Hangout: Video calls and chats happen here.
- Call Recorder: The lack of a decent video call recorder for Windows was one of the reasons I made the jump to Mac. Easy to use, reliable and doesn’t get in the way.
- Camtasia: For editing video.
- Vimeo: For hosting video. More professional than YouTube.
- Kindle: If you read a lot, you owe it to yourself to get a Kindle. No need to say goodbye for good to print, but the Kindle offers many great features that go beyond style. The use of highlights is my personal favorite. Besides, of course, having thousands of books on one little gadget.
- Google Reader: For my RSS feeds. People that STILL don’t know what RSS is, should learn and get it over with.
- Pinboard: For managing my bookmarks. Its simplicity makes it a no-brainer: it gets the job done.
- Findings: I shed a tear the day I saw this site for the first time. Finally a good way to manage and share my Kindle’s highlights, plus a good way to highlight many sections of any online article.
- Audible: I don’t listen too many audiobooks, but when I do, I go to Audible.
- Gmail: Duh.
- Campfire: For business chat and file-sharing.
- World Time Buddy: Great for scheduling calls with people from all over the world, when time zones become a pain in the ass.
- Hipmunk: Good for flight search.
- Matrix Airfare Search: Another good one for flight search.
- Skyteam: Information on visas and health requirements.
- Numbeo: Information on cost of living of many cities around the world.
- Google Calendar: Again, duh. I’d lose myself without it.
- Anki: A great little tool that shows the power of Spaced Repetition. Great way to memorize anything.
- Backpack: Its reminders help me get all the legal and financial crap done at the right dates.
- Notational Velocity: Perfect for note-taking. You don’t even need to save what you write.
- The number one most productive tool of all: Pen and Paper. Pencils work too. I do 95% of my planning and organizing this way.
In the end, it’s all about crippling your technology. If we let it, technology with all its websites, gadgets and networks, will overrun any plan we may have. Remember, technology is addictive. Before adopting any new tool or gadget, it’s worth asking ourselves if this is the right solution for the right problem. This is why I still don’t have an iPhone or iPad. They solve more problems than I have, which means they’ll either create new problems, or waste my time with solutions I don’t need.
Thanks to Josh Kaufman, Colin Wright, Arséne Hodali and Jean-Daniel Tanguay for helping me discover many of the tools mentioned here. Also, thanks to Paul Stamatiou for the idea behind this page.