There are a plethora of tools out there. Which ones are the best? How do you choose?
What people are really interested in is: “Hey, what tools do you use for ___?”
So that’s what I’ll answer here. These are my preferred tools that work well for me. YMMV.
Notes, Planning and General Organization
Google Drive – Cloud storage is ubiquitous today. Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive. My advice, pick ONE. Honestly, they’re all good these days. I like Google Drive because I’m a big Google fan/user (and now employee), and it works extremely well in my workflow.
Lemome Notebook – Pen and paper is not dead. It’s good to write and draw on physical paper. This notebook is amazing! Don’t go buy a Moleskin. I’ve had both, and I can say the quality of the Lemome for the price is just amazing. It lays flat, ink doesn’t bleed through the pages, comes in ruled, blank, dotted and squared page options, etc. It’s an all around great deal.
Pilot Precise V5 RT – If you get that notebook, you’ll need a good pen. This is my favorite pen for general use. It’s a .5mm tip with a smooth liquid ink. It flows right onto the page evenly. They last a long time too, plus you can get cheap refills.
Bullet Journal – This isn’t a product, it’s a way of journaling. I have been using this method since 2015 and have really enjoyed it’s simple structure. I can easily index my paper notes with simple and flexible symbols. Check out the website, watch the 5 minute video, and see if you might like it.
Persistent Chat – I’m going to make a bold claim. There is no other app that’s improved my collaboration with teams and co-workers more than persistent chat has. Now, there are pitfalls to chat. If you struggle with boundaries and being disciplined, then you will probably fall into the trap of overuse. Be smart about it. If you need to communicate important things to a group that people need to ponder before responding, don’t use persistent chat for that. Use it as a tool to hash things out quickly together. Use it for automation. Slack is the OG (I guess if you’re not factoring in IRC). I even made a business case in 2015 to convince my work of it’s potential. Today I’m all in on Google Chat.
Google Meet – Easiest web conferencing solution ever. It works on any platform, no software download needed. The only thing you need is a free Google account. Very easy to use, which is important when you just want to host a meeting. Everyone will get in on time and not have to learn a complicated user interface.
Project, Task and Work Management
Asana – I have a bit of a dueling situation between using Asana and Wrike these days. Asana has been my top tool of choice in recent years mostly because it’s easier for users to learn and become proficient. I’ve been using, administering and helping others with Asana since 2015. If you value simplicity and ease of use, go with Asana.
Wrike – I’ve used this for work since 2013. This tool is incredibly flexible for planning projects, general task management, processing requests, and facilitating collaboration among teams. It takes some set up to get going, but it’s a very capable tool and used by some of the largest companies in the world. If you value flexibility and customizability for more complex workflows, you should definitely consider Wrike.
WaveApps – Accounting and bookkeeping. Not my strong suit. Thankfully Wave makes it easy and has a beautiful UI! Integrates with Stripe, which I also couldn’t do business without.
Calendly – A great way for others to book appointments with you. It connects to your calendars (Office 365, Google, etc.) and allows you to configure the times that you’re available for appointments. Then others can book the time with you through Calendly and it shows up on your calendar. Great tool with a free tier. Check out my calendly page!
Anchor.fm – An app that allows you to create, publish, and host podcasts. For free. I used Libsyn for hosting my podcast in the past, but recently switched to Anchor to make the whole publishing process easier. Anchor publishes to all the major platforms (Apple Podcast, Spotify, etc.). Did I mention it’s free?
Primary Mic (XLR) – Audio-Technica AT2035 – Whenever I am presenting or recording, this is my primary choice. It’s excellent sound quality that doesn’t break the bank. However, it does require some additional hardware to convert and XLR input into the computer.
2nd Mic (USB) – Audio-Technica ATR-2100 Microphone – Amazing sound quality and features for the price. Highly recommend if you’re recording a podcast, voice-overs, or even using it for conference calls and webinars.
GarageBand – Trust tool for quick and easy audio editing. For a consumer grade software, you can do some pretty great things to spruce up your audio. Free.
Adobe Premiere Pro – I’ve been using Premiere lately after years of using Final Cut Pro. The jury is out for me on this, but I like Premiere’s interface much better so far.
OBS – Streaming live video. OBS is open source and available for Mac and PC. It’s like setting up your own broadcast studio. You can have multiple cameras, share your screen, create scenes/transitions, etc. It allows you to stream live to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and several other streaming services. It has a bit of a learning curve, though.
Canva – If you need to make awesome looking graphics quickly (for web, mobile, Facebook ads, banners, etc.), you cannot go wrong with Canva. It’s completely web based and has huge libraries of free and paid templates. Really amazing to be able to create great looking designs in your browser (or the Canva app).
Adobe Photoshop – As much as I like Canva for quick things, I cannot ignore the power of Photoshop. I’ve used it for 18 years now and it remains the top tier photo/graphic editing software out there. For good reasons.
Amazon Lightsail – Simple web hosting that doesn’t suck. Starts at $3.50/mo. And it’s not a shared hosting environment! You can get a WordPress site launched in minutes. Love this.
StudioPress Themes for WordPress – I built this site (and several others) using StudioPress’s phenomenal Genesis framework and child themes. You don’t need to know how to code. Their themes are mobile responsive, they offer great support, and there’s active community. Well worth it.
MacBook Pro 14″ M1 Pro – I’m using a higher-end MacBook Pro (2021) with an M1 Pro processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
For smooth audio I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 as a USB input device and use a Audio-Technica AT2035 mic. I use that for presentations and recordings. Otherwise, I use a HyperX Cloud II USB headset as my daily driver. I’ve given up on wireless just to avoid latency, charging, and other potential pitfalls. USB never fails 🙂
The only constant is change. Here’s a list of stuff I once used, but due to one reason or another either I don’t use very much or have completely moved on to something else.
Trello – I use Trello to manage personal stuff. I’ve used just about every tool out there and I always go back to Trello. It’s just simple and easy. And I can structure it however I want. And it’s free!
OneNote – I used to be all in with Evernote. Unfortunately, they raised their prices and stopped improving the product in meaningful ways. So, I vacated Evernote in favor of OneNote in 2015 and haven’t looked back. OneNote is free now (Mac and PC) and a great tool for storing and organizing your notes/thoughts.
Apple Notes – So, I did a thing. I moved my notes… again. It was painful to get my notes out of OneNote. If you have an iPhone and a Mac, it’s hard to beat Apple Notes these days. It’s a very simple note taking app that’s evolved recently to allow for better organization of notes. I like that the options are limited when compared to something like OneNote. I have found that the lack of features has actually improved my notes.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you I may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase using one of my links. Take heart! I only recommend products and services that I have direct experience with and find helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I may make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you in your endeavors.