productivity tools

Recommended Tools


as at 4th October 2016

Download my “Top 10 Productivity Tools” resource guide!

Use these tools to be more productive at work and home:

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 secure 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!

APPLE CALENDAR (iOS/OSX) – I use the Apple Calendar for all my personal appointments. I'm a big calendar fanboy and will literally put everything in there – social appointments, when I'm going for a run and even what I'm doing at the weekend. By scheduling everything that I'm up to, I find that I get more done at work and home. As the calendar seamlessly syncs with my iPhone, iPad and Mac, it's quick and easy to move appointments and have them reflected on all your devices.

APPLE MAIL – Because I use a MacBook and iPhone as my primary devices, it makes sense to use the Apple Mail client for managing my email. I've tried other apps like CloudMagic and Mailbox and they're really good. But for some reason, I find I keep coming back to Apple Mail.

APPLE REMINDERS (iOS/OSX) – I use the Apple Reminders app to set reminders for smaller personal tasks that I need to complete. I generally use it for tasks that aren't big enough to be ‘worthy' of a calendar appointment and are quick to complete.

ASANA – This is one of the productivity tools I just can't live without. Asana is 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 at all the work you're doing across all projects, in one place. Asana is great for organisations and increases personal accountability and teams progress.

Why You Should Run Your Business with Asana

Step-by-Step: Moving Your Company to Asana

Going Pro with Asana

BACKBLAZE (affiliate link) – BackBlaze allows you to backup your computer to the cloud. This is awesome if you have a laptop (like me) and don't always remember to make physical backups to a hard drive. BackBlaze will backup using your internet connection and you can even set the upload speed so your backups don't throttle and slow down your internet connection.

CALENDLY – Calendly is a really useful scheduling app that allows you to specify what times you're available for others to 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.

DROPBOX (affiliate link) – I use Dropbox for all personal 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, iPad or another computer.

EVERNOTE (affiliate link) – Evernote is one of absolute my favourite productivity tools. I use it at work and home to save articles, plan projects, write to-do lists and more. Evernote is the place I use to dump my thoughts and ideas so I don't have to remember them. Evernote is great for drafting blog posts; you can clip relevant links and images you're going to use, almost like creating a scrapbook of resources to pull from. Your notes are organised into Notebooks, and you can also use tags to group similar notes and stay organised.

How to Get Started with Evernote

A Tour of my Evernote Account [VIDEO]

TIP: If you need help getting started with Evernote, I HIGHLY recommend you check out “Evernote Essentials(affiliate link) by Brett Kelly. Brett is a former Evernote employee and his super-cheap eBook is the ideal resource to help you become an Evernote Ninja!

GOOGLE CALENDAR – I use the Google Calendar to plan my workday and schedule appointments with colleagues. Everything in my Google Calendar then syncs to Sunrise Calendar where, along with my appointments from Apple Calendar, are all viewable in one place.

GOOGLE DRIVE – Similar to Dropbox, I use Google Drive for all my work file storage. This comes in super handy when you're in a meeting and need to get access to a file or image; I can whip out my phone or iPad and quickly find what I'm looking for.

GOOGLE MAIL – I use Google Mail as my work email client. As I already use Drive and the Google Calendar it makes sense to use Google Mail as the three apps work seamlessly with one another. All email that comes in is labelled into categories (e.g. Content Marketing, Payments etc…) to make search easier later. I use the four D's (Do it, Drop it, Delegate it, Defer it) to manage my email and make sure I don't spend too long in my inbox. Once an email is dealt with, it gets archived to keep my inbox tidy and manageable.

Manage Your Inbox Using the 4 D's

HARVEST (affiliate link) – Harvest is where I track the time spent working with coaching and consulting clients. It's great because I can load a budget for each client based on how many hours they've booked with me. Then when we jump on a call, I can start the timer for that client and track how much time and budget we have left. Harvet also handles all your invoicing and even connects with Stripe so you can accept credit card payments.

HEADSPACE – Headspace is the number 1 app for meditation on the market. Headspace is perfect for beginners or intermediate meditators and introduces you to the practice with Take 10 – 10 sessions of meditation for 10 minutes a day. From there you can advance to longer sessions and themed packs to help with stress, focus, happiness and more. Meditation is a crucial part of my morning routine and Headspace is the tool I use for staying on track with my meditation.

Why You Should Start Meditating Today

iA WRITER (affiliate link) – iA Writer is the app I use for all my writing. It's such a well designed and beautiful app that it genuinely makes me want to write more often. iA Writer supports Markdown, which means you can write HTML in shorthand and upload content for the web. This makes is great for writing blog posts and content for this website. I also like that you can quickly export beautiful PDF documents (which I use for my book summaries).

How I Write

PIPEDRIVE (affiliate link) – Pipedrive 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. Sign up using the link above to get a free 45-day trial (trials normally only 30 days)!

RESCUE TIME (affiliate link) – This isn't exactly a tool I use on a daily basis, but Rescue Time is a cool way of seeing how you spend your time and whether you're being productive or not. It involves a one-time setup on your computer (I only use it for work) and then you get a weekly email with a summary of your productivity. Apps like Google Docs and Evernote are considered productive, whereas Facebook and Twitter are distractions (you can actually change this in the Settings as I have to use Facebook and Twitter for work). I've also set up a goal to spend less than an hour a day on email. I'm currently achieving this each week, so will soon be lowering it to 45 minutes, and then half an hour a day.

SANEBOX (affiliate link) – Sanebox is an incredibly useful service I use to manage my email. Sanebox operates in the cloud to triage and through your mail, clearing your inbox of all the unimportant stuff and conveniently moving it to a separate mailbox called “@Salelater”. When you wake up, it's sort of like a personal assistant has been through your inbox to sort everything out for you. You can use Sanebox to snooze messages, set reminders for later, collect your newsletters, quickly unsubscribe and a whole host of other things.

I’ve been looking for a good email management tool for ages. I’ve tried a bunch of apps, but none of them really had the features I was looking for. Often email apps are overcomplicated with unnecessary features and so I’ve always defaulted back to using Apple Mail. Sanebox is the solution I've been looking for!

SPECIAL OFFER: Click here, to sign up to Sanebox and receive $10 account credit which can be used to go towards a paid subscription.

SKITCH – By the good folks at Evernote, Skitch is an annotation app for iOS, OSX and even good old windows. It's very useful for grabbing screenshots and then annotating them with text, arrows and shapes etc… Your annotated notes will sync with your Evernote account but I find myself using it most for dumping quick images into emails or Asana. After all, a picture tells a thousand words right?

How I Used Skitch to Find Our Lost Cat

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. It's a must have for any automation geek.

My recommended tools for being a productive online marketer:

BUFFER – Hands down one of my favourite marketing apps. Buffer is a scheduling tool for social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. For each channel, you specify the day and times you would like to post then you start creating your content. These posts then get added to the back of the queue and will get posted at the next available time. At any time, you can reorder your posts or set a custom time to post. The thing I love the most about Buffer is you can even set up automatic UTM parameters for Google Analytics tracking and link shortening with So you can drop your link into a post and Buffer will customise the tracking for each channel and shorten it to make it nice and tidy. Buffer is an absolute must for anyone engaging in social media marketing.

CANVA – Canva is a web and iPad app which is perfect for creating images, whether that's for Facebook posts, Tweets or blog articles. You can choose from a bunch of preset sizes, drop in your images and add text and objects to create the look you're going for. Because it's cloud-based, you can access your designs from anywhere. I prefer designing on the desktop as it's easier, but the iPad app is also very pleasing to use.

EXCEL – As a marketer and a growth hacker, Excel is a must have tool for analysing data and crunching numbers. With some basic Excel formulas up your sleeve, you can do some clever stuff and draw some useful conclusions from customer and website data.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS – If you have a website, and you want people to visit it, then Google Analytics should be your best friend. After a quick set up you get a huge amount of data at your fingertips for free. See where traffic is coming from including top sources, mediums and referrers. You can then drill down into each channel to see how the traffic behaves. See which pages of your site are getting the most sessions, break down your traffic by demographic and even see which browsers and devices people are using to visit your site. It's actually ridiculous how much free information Google gives you.

MAILCHIMP (affiliate link) – MailChimp is an easy to use and beautifully designed email marketing tool. You can build multiple email lists and segment how you wish. Create your mail campaigns using MailChimp's templates and design options then A/B test subject lines and designs to see which gets the highest open and click-through rates. Key metrics are then reported on in your dashboard so you can see how your campaigns are performing.

How I automate my email marketing

These are the tools and services I use on this website:

BLUEHOST (affiliate link) – Bluehost is one of the top hosting providers on the internet. They offer professional hosting that is recommended by WordPress and their packages are extremely affordable.

How to start a personal blog (even if you don't know what to write about)

DISQUS – Disqus is a powerful commenting plugin which allows users to sign in using their Facebook or Twitter account to post comments to your site. This lowers the barrier to commenting as it doesn't require a WordPress account or Email address. Disqus adds the users profile picture to their comment and even has an option to attach photos in comments. This brings a nice visual element to the comments. Disqus also suggests other posts your readers should check out, so it's a good way of cross-promoting your content.

EASY DIGITAL DOWNLOADS (affiliate link) – I use EDD to manage the sale and downloads of my digital products like the Personal Productivity Toolkit. It’s a free ecommerce platform and the features can be extended with additional add ons. For example, I use the MailChimp for EDD add on to add customers to a specific group. Not only is EDD a great ecommerce platform, but their customer support is top notch!

MAILCHIMP 4 WORDPRESS (affiliate link) – This awesome plugin powers all of the email opt-in forms on my website. I love it for a few reasons: 1) You can easily customise the forms and add custom CSS to make them look how you want. 2) The form updates subscriber info and doesn't override it. This is great if you have multiple downloads that people may want. 3) The form can be easily embedded on any page or post with short codes.

NAMECHEAP (affiliate link) – Namecheap is where I host my website and domain. Having experienced some bad service at another host I switched to Namecheap who are incredible. The Namecheap interface is beautifully designed, easy to use and the hosting packages themselves are very reasonably priced.

OPTIMIZEPRESS (affiliate link) – Optimizepress is the plugin I use to create my sales and opt-in pages. There's a bit of learning involved, but once you've mastered the basics it's quick and easy to set up new pages.

THEMEJUG (affiliate link) – ThemeJug design beautiful WordPress themes for a very reasonable price. I am currently using the Galao theme and it comes with heaps of customisation options. Most importantly, the customer service from the ThemeJug team is fantastic. I once downloaded a theme and the theme creator was very unhelpful and often rude in the support forum. Shout out to David at ThemeJug who is fantastic at helping answer questions and solve any issues you're having with the theme. Check these guys out!

SOUNDCLOUD – SoundCloud is where I host my podcast episodes for the Productivity Podcast. SoundCloud is simple and easy to use. The interface is nicely designed and the fees seem to be the most reasonable when it comes to podcast hosting.

STRIPE – Stripe is the payment gateway I use for processing credit card payments. The fees are really generous and the integration is really easy to set up. I use the Stripe Payment Gateway plugin for integrating Stripe with Easy Digital Downloads.

WARFARE PLUGINS (affiliate link) – This is the plugin I use for generating the social sharing buttons on my blog posts. I like this plugin for it's beautifully designed sharing buttons and it's also very lightweight on the site and doesn't slow things down.

WORDPRESS SEO – A must have plugin, this tool gives you a whole raft of options for improving your sites Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You can customise the titles and descriptions of posts and pages and the plugin shows you a snippet of how the page will appear in search results, so you can really optimise your content for search engines. Secondary to this, the plugin adds the necessary open graph and meta tags to your content so you can produce nice Twitter Cards and Facebook/Google+ Posts when you share content to these social channels.

Here are some favourite products and tools:

AEROPRESS COFFEE MAKER (affiliate link) – This is by far the best way I know of for making coffee at home. The Aeropress makes a delicious cup of coffee and because there's no brew time it's incredibly quick and easy to make a great coffee.

BELLROY WALLETS – Bellroy is a designer and manufacturer of beautiful leather wallets. Based in Australia, Bellroy have designed a range of wallets for travel, for facing the elements and for everyday use that won't leave a bulge in your pocket. With a focus on minimalist design, Bellroy's wallets are simple, elegant and provide a beautiful way to carry your essential cards and cash.

BLUELOUNGE – One of the best ways to increase productivity is to maintain a tidy and organised workspace. Bluelounge is a designer of simple and effective workspace organisation products, from cable management to device and monitor stands. Bluelounge's products are well designed and can transform your workspace from a chaotic mess to a well-organised productivity powerhouse.

DOLLAR SHAVE CLUB (affiliate link) – Every man hates shaving with old or blunt razor blades and yet we always forget to buy new ones. And when you do, the blades you typically find in the supermarket are extremely overpriced. Dollar Shave Club solves both of these problems by automatically shipping you their premium quality blades on a monthly or bimonthly basis. They really are the best quality blades I've ever used and at a fraction of the normal price.

FITBIT (affiliate link) – I'm a big believer that living a healthy and active lifestyle is a big part of being productive. I love using the FitBit to track my exercise, sleep quality and activity. It's great for getting a clear idea of how active I'm being. For instance, during an inactive week I'll see that I'm not doing much and this motivates me to pick up my game and go out for a run.

How to track your health

KEYSMART – The KeySmart is a swiss army style key holder that makes carrying keys easier and less painful. You load your keys inside the KeySmart and they're all held neatly in place so they don't dig into your leg when they're in your pocket. It's a great way of keeping your keys organised and tidy and the KeySmart is made from premium materials, making it very sturdy and satisfying to carry.

PORLEX COFFEE GRINDER (affiliate link) – I love freshly ground coffee and the Porlex Coffee Grinder is the perfect handheld grinder for use at home or one the go.

And the rest…

AIRBNB (affiliate link) – Airbnb is my go to app when it's time to book accommodation for travel. Whether you're planning a weekend away or going long-haul, Airbnb allows you to browse cost-effective listings of rooms or houses that other people have available. Part of the new ‘sharing-economy' Airbnb is changing the way people travel and completely disrupting the hotel industry.

FEEDLY – Feedly allows you to search for blogs and news outlets that you regularly read and then add them to your own feed of latest articles so it's easy to keep up to date on all the latest articles you enjoy reading. Using Feedly is a  great way of cutting down on the number of email newsletters that enter my inbox. Instead of getting an email, I subscribe to the blog on Feedly and I can keep up to date with their latest content. Often I'll go through my feed and if I see an article I'd like to read, add it to my Pocket account for reading later. That way I don't get too caught up wasting time with articles and instead I postpone them for later.

IFTTT – If This, Then That (IFTTT) is a very handy productivity app for iOS. Similar to an if function in excel, if a certain condition is met, the desired outcome is actioned. For example, when I post a new photo on Instagram, the image is uploaded to Dropbox. Or if I update my Facebook profile image, my Twitter profile is updated to match. I even have an alert set up to receive a text message when it's going to be below a certain temperature tomorrow and I need to check the heaters at home.

POCKET – Pocket is a great ‘read later app' similar to Instapaper. Throughout the course of the day, I'm always coming across articles I'd like to read or videos to watch. Instead of letting them interrupt me, I save them to Pocket.  When I get home, I open up Pocket on my iPad and go through all the content I've saved. By doing this, I can avoid distractions at work while still remembering to watch videos or read articles I'm interested in.

Manage Online Distractions with Pocket

POCKETSMITH – PocketSmith 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.

PODCASTS – Podcasts can be a great source of information and learning. There are thousands of people out there with great expertise who have published free content for us to enjoy. While I listen to business and productivity related podcasts, the categories cover all sorts, from photography and editing to comedy, DIY and more… Podcasts are great to listen to in the car or in the background at home. I try not to do anything that requires too much thinking when I'm listening to a podcast as you tend to lose focus on what's being said. If reading isn't your thing, check out some podcasts in the category you're interested in.

How Podcasts Can Double Your Productivity

RUNKEEPER – Being an enthusiastic runner, naturally I use an app to track my progress towards running goals. I use RunKeeper as the app is really beautiful and easy to use. I run with a Garmin GPS watch, which is great because you can just glance at your wrist to check your pace or time and is a little nicer than carrying a phone. I then use an app called Fit2App to sync the watch data to my RunKeeper account. In RunKeeper, you can set up routes and see how your different runs compare along that route. I have also joined a training programme to prepare for the Auckland Marathon which outlines when and how far I should be running to achieve my target time.


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