as at 22nd June 2017
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!
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 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 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
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 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 – 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.
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
Evernote is one of absolute my favourite productivity tools. I treat it as my digital brain where I store all important reference material and notes. 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. Your notes are organised into Notebooks, and you can also use tags to group similar notes and stay organised.
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!
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).
HARVEST – client invoicing
Harvest is great for tracking time spent on client projects and integrates well with Asana. I don't actually use this feature and only use Harvest for generating client invoices.
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.
iA WRITER – writing
iA Writer is the app I use for a large portion of 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).
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.
- Ultimate Guide: Getting started with Pipedrive (the best CRM for managing sales)
- 5 Zapier automations I use to automate my business (and save time)
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!
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.
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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.
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.
WORKFLOW – iphone automation
Workflow makes automation on the iPhone easy and powerful. I've created workflows for making all sorts of tasks quick and easy to accomplish. I can do things like create Asana tasks or new calendar events right from my Apple Watch. Or send my wife my travel time so she knows when I'm due home. Workflow is definitely one of those apps for the more seasoned productivity geek. Spend tome time with it and you'll soon be automating all sorts of areas of your life.
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.
BUFFER – social media scheduling
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 bit.ly. 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 – image design
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 – 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 ANALYTICS – web 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 – email marketing and automation
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.
If you need help with MailChip, then you're in luck because I'm a registered MailChimp Expert. Book a free 30-minute introductory call to learn more about how I can help and get a 3-month free subscription to MailChimp when you work with me!
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 – ecommerce provider
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 – 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.
AEROPRESS COFFEE MAKER – coffee maker
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.
APPLE MACBOOK PRO (early 2015 ed.) – the everything machine
My MacBook Pro is the computer I use for absolutely everything! I've been an Apple fan and have lived in the Apple ecosystem for years and there are no signs of this changing in the future. I use the Apple Magic Mouse with mouse tracking on maximum speed for greater efficiency.
APPLE IPHONE 7 – everything
I love the iPhone. Having everything from your Mac in iCloud and on your phone wherever you are is incredible. The iPhone is fast, reliable, it works, has a great camera and awesome applications – what more could you want?
APPLE WATCH – health tracking and stuff
I was hesitant about the Apple Watch at first (what's the point, right?). But since going over to the dark side I've found I really enjoy the Apple Watch and it helps me to use my phone less; and not because I'm using the watch instead, it just helps you to deal with notifications quicker and it's less of a distraction. I particularly enjoy the health and sleep tracking and find it's super useful for launching quick Workflows and getting things done.
BELLROY – beautiful 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.
My current daily carry is the card sleeve.
BLUELOUNGE – cable management
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.
FITBIT – health tracking
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.
PORLEX COFFEE GRINDER – coffee grinder
I love freshly ground coffee and the Porlex Coffee Grinder is the perfect handheld grinder for use at home or one the go.
AIRBNB – accomodation
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 – article management
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.
POCKET – read later service
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.
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.
PODCASTS – podcast manager
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.