My 15 favourite (free and paid) productivity tools

My 15 favourite (free and paid) productivity tools [PMP #97]

I get asked all the time about what apps and tools I use to be more productive and to run my business. And I’m a big fan of using the right tool for the right job instead of overlapping your tools and creating a confusing productivity system (which is why I created my productivity blueprint).

Below is a list of my absolute favourite productivity tools. I’ve grouped them by free and paid apps, although it’s worth noting that a lot of the tools that I started using for free I know pay for in order to get more features. You can read my complete list of recommended tools, apps and gear.

Don't want to read this list, listen to the podcast instead:

TOP FREE APPS

Calendly

Calendly is the scheduling app I use to book calls with my consulting clients. It’s a really useful scheduling tool that allows you to specify what times you're available so other people can book appointments in your calendar. If you've got a meeting or phone call to schedule, you can simply send someone a link where they'll see a list of times that you're available so they can pick one. The appointment gets added to your calendar and you're good to go. You can even add questions to the booking form e.g. “What's your Skype name?”. This is a great tool for scheduling appointments without the back and forth emails.

You can get started with Calendly for free but I’m on the $15/month plan so I can set up more event types and take payments for calls.

Asana

Asana is one of the productivity tools I just can't live without. Asana is a task management app that's well designed, functional and easy to use. It's great for organising your work into multiple projects and with the “My Tasks” view, you get a great snapshot of all the work you're doing across all projects, in one place. Asana is great for organisations and increases personal accountability and teams progress.

If you’d like help getting started with Asana, I have a whole suite of training videos to get you on your way.

Grammarly

Grammarly is a web extension that checks your spelling and grammar as you type. It’s unlike other built-in spell checkers that you probably have on your computer because it’s actually good. It recognises issues with your grammar and makes smart suggestions on how to write better.

Dropbox

I use Dropbox for all file storage. As well as running regular Time Machine backups of my computers, this means I always have another copy of all my work saved in the cloud. It's handy being able to access my files from anywhere, whether I'm on my phone or another computer.

You can start with Dropbox for free but I’m on a paid plan so that I can get more storage.

Apple Notes

I switched to Apple Notes from Evernote for its simplicity and deep integration with the iOS and MacOS systems. I found that I didn't need all the features and clutter that Evernote had and prefer the simple and clean interface of Apple Notes. I use Notes for storing ideas, journaling, articles and basically as a digital brain.

Skitch

Skitch (by Evernote) is an annotation app for iOS and Mac OS. It's very useful for grabbing screenshots and then annotating them with text, arrows and shapes etc… I find myself using it most for dumping quick images into emails or Asana. After all, a picture tells a thousand words!

Zapier

Zapier is the automation tool I use to link different services together. For example, when someone books a time to chat with me in Calendly, Zapier will automatically create a new deal in Pipedrive so I can track the prospect through a sales funnel. Zapier makes it simple and easy to link different services together, so when something happens on one platform, you can trigger an action on another. Zapier saves me hours of time every week and it's a must have for any automation geek.

You can get started with Zapier for free but I’m on a paid plan so that I can take advantage of the multi-step zaps.

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TOP PAID APPS

Setapp

Setapp is a subscription-based app marketplace that features all the best Mac apps in one place. They curate and collect all the best tools in one place so you don't have to worry about shady developers or which app is best. Just last year, my favourite writing app, Ulysses, changed to a subscription model which would have meant I’d need to fork out $7.49/month for this one app alone. I’ve also spent money on other popular apps like Timing ($49) and CleanMyMac ($39.95). So, to me, it seems like a no-brainer to spend $9.99/month for all of these apps and to get access to other new apps I haven’t even tried.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive (affiliate link) is my customer relationship management (CRM) tool of choice. When someone books a time to chat with me via one of my consulting pages, a new “deal” is created in Pipedrive with the client's information from the Calendly booking form. I can then track the prospect through a sales funnel before signing them up for some one-on-one consulting work with me. Pipedrive makes it easy to see what stage each prospect is at, the communication history with the client, it helps you to forecast future revenue and see how many activities are involved in closing a sale. For freelancers and sales roles, I highly recommend Pipedrive for managing and tracking your sales.

If you’d like help getting started with Pipedrive, I have a whole suite of training videos to get you on your way.

1Password

1Password is my go to password management app. First off, it's great for storing all your passwords for your different online accounts. It even supports 2-factor authentication for services like Dropbox. It's also great for storing credit card details, recovery keys, licenses and other important information. With 1Password you can quickly create long and unique passwords for all your accounts and with 1Password Mini, you can type a quick keyboard shortcut to quickly input your passwords, no matter what app you're in. Seriously, this app is a must have!

If you're just getting started with 1Password, I highly recommend you check out The Sweet Setups ‘Unlock 1Password‘ (affiliate link) program all about how to get started.

TextExpander

TextExpander is one of my secret weapons when it comes to using my Mac faster. With TextExpander, you can store big blocks of text which you can quickly expand using a simple abbreviation or keyboard shortcut. This is incredibly useful for storing canned email responses, commonly used links, personal details like phone numbers and addresses and other text you have to type on a regular basis.

Hazel

Hazel is an incredibly useful system preferences app that you can train to watch certain folders on your Mac. When files or folders within that target folder meet certain criteria, you have Hazel perform actions on those items. For example, you can have Hazel rename receipts, move invoices to Dropbox, clear old files from your downloads and so much more. You need to spend a bit of time with it when getting started, but it's well worth learning how to use.

Timing

Timing (affiliate link) is a beautifully designed time tracking app for the Mac. It runs in the background to track the websites, documents and apps you use. You can then assign time spent on different services to work and personal projects to see how you spent your time. It's great for freelancers who need to generate reports and invoices based on time spent on client work. Read more about how I track my time.

Pocketsmith

Pocketsmith (affiliate link) is a personal finance web app that lets you track your spending and income. You can set budgets for different categories of spending, like “dining out” and track your spending against this goal each month. With the ability to pull data directly from your account, it's very easy to keep on top of your savings. I used to use a spreadsheet to do all this myself, but PocketSmith takes away all the hard work and lets you focus on the important things – where your money is coming from and where it's going.

MailButler

I've tried loads of email clients and I always seem to come back to Apple Mail. But Mail lacks a few key productivity features I've come to know and love, like snoozing emails and read receipts. MailButler (affiliate link) is an extension for Apple Mail that adds these extra features and more… It means I can still use Apple Mail while getting all the benefits of a third-party application.

SHARE YOUR APPS BELOW!

If you have any favourite apps that I’ve missed, please share them in the comments below!

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