as at May 2019
Here are my favourite tools for getting work done and running my business. You can also check out my home office and everyday carry.
1PASSWORD – password management
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.
ALFRED – powerful search and automation
I didn't really “get” Alfred at first. But once I started experimenting with it, I quickly fell in love with this powerful application. Alfred helps you to search and find things on your computer. But it's so much more than that. Using Alfred's customisable web search I can search for payments on my website. With workflows (and some help from Zapier) I can execute actions like creating tasks in Asana and remove email addresses on MailChimp. My absolute favourite feature of Alfred is the clipboard. Alfred stores all my recently copied items so I can quickly go back, find and paste recently copied links and text. This feature alone has drastically improved my productivity.
- The geekiest automation I've ever made
- 5 Zapier automations I use to run my business (and save time)
- What's on the menu?
APPLE CALENDAR – time management
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 – email
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 which are both really good. But for some reason, I find I keep coming back to Apple Mail. I've added more features to Apple Mail by installing the MailButler extension (see below).
APPLE NOTES – note taking and my digital brain
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.
APPLE REMINDERS – quick reminders
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. I also love saying: “Hey Siri, remind me to X when I get home”.
ASANA – project management
This 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 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.
- Asana Training Videos
- Why You Should Run Your Business with Asana
- Step-by-Step: Moving Your Company to Asana
- Going Pro with Asana
Need help optimising up your Asana account and training your team? Book a free 30-minute introductory call with me here to learn how I can help!
BACKBLAZE – online backups
Backblaze allows you to back up 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 – easy scheduling
Calendly is a really useful scheduling app 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.
- 5 Zapier automations I use to automate my business (and save time)
- How to engage inbound leads with a strong call to action
DROPBOX – file management (and backup)
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.
EVERNOTE – note-taking and digital storage (no longer using)
I used to use Evernote before I switched to Apple Notes. It's a great tool but has more features than I feel I need.
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 eBook is the ideal resource to help you become an Evernote Ninja!
EXCEL – number crunching
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 CALENDAR – secondary calendar
I use Google Calendar for scheduling appointments and inviting people to an event when they don't have Apple Calendar. I connect Google Calendar with other services like Pipedrive and Calendly (both of which don't connect with Apple) and then sync these appointments to my Apple Calendar.
GOOGLE DRIVE – secondary file management
Similar to Dropbox, I use Google Drive for document storage. Although now that most of my information is in Dropbox and iCloud, I really don't use Google Drive much any more.
GOOGLE MAIL – just because
In this day and age, you need a Google account (you just do).
GRAMMARLY – spelling and grammar checker
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.
HAZEL – automatic document management
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.
- Getting started with Hazel
- Get more done on the Mac with David Sparks
- What's on the menu?
- How I'm automating email receipt management
- The geekiest automation I've ever made
HEADSPACE – meditation
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.
iCLOUD – my life in the cloud
I love iCloud! Without even thinking, I can have all my calendar appointments, reminders, email, photos, documents and more on all of my devices. I love the improvements Apple has made to iCloud over the last few years. It means my information is always safe and secure. If my wife or I ever lose a device, I can find them using Find My iPhone. And if we can't get them back, you can set up a new Mac or iPhone from one of your daily backups. Easy!
I would go so far as to say my most important information is stored on iCloud. I feel Apple is one of the most trustworthy companies in the world and one of the few that really cares about privacy and security.
IFTTT – iPhone automation
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.
MAILBUTLER – mail.app extensions
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 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.
PIPEDRIVE – sales CRM
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.
- Pipedrive Training Videos
- Ultimate Guide: Getting started with Pipedrive (the best CRM for managing sales)
- 5 Zapier automations I use to automate my business (and save time)
- Top 5 sales CRM's compared
Sign up using this link to get a free 45-day trial (trials normally only 30 days)! Or, if you've already created an account, apply to the code AF-Paulminors in the “Billing” page of your settings.
If you need help optimising your Pipedrive account or with team training, book a free 30-minute introductory call with me to learn more about how I can help!
POCKETSMITH – personal finance tracker
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.
RESCUE TIME – online time tracking
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.
NOTE: I'm no longer using RescueTime since switching to Timing (see below).
SANEBOX – email management (no longer using)
Sanebox is an incredibly useful service I used to use (now I use MailButler) 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 “@Sanelater”. 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Click here, to sign up to Sanebox and receive $10 account credit which can be used to go towards a paid subscription.
SETAPP – app subscription marketplace
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. And with their monthly subscription, I can pay for loads of different apps like Timing, Ulysses and Clean My Mac for one small monthly fee.
SKITCH – screenshots and annotations
By the good folks at Evernote, Skitch 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… 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!
TEXTEXPANDER – quick typing and text expansion
Along with Alfred's clipboard, 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.
Sign up here to save 20% when you sign up (affiliate link).
TIMING – time tracking for Mac
Timing 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.
ULYSSES – writing
I now use Ulysses for most if not all of my writing. It's great for writing for the web. You can connect Ulysses to WordPress and publish straight to a blog or on Medium. I also use Ulysses for writing ebooks and other documentation.
ZAPIER – online automation
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.
BLUEHOST – domains and web hosting
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.
DISQUS – blog comments
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 – e-commerce provider
I use EDD to manage the sale and downloads of my digital products like my Personal Productivity Toolkit. It’s a free e-commerce 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 e-commerce platform, but their customer support is top notch!
MAILCHIMP 4 WORDPRESS – linking wordpress to mailchimp
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 – domains and web hosting
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 – wordpress page builder
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 – wordpress themes
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 – podcast hosting
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 – credit card processor
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 – social sharing buttons
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 – seo optimisation
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.