Since I work from home all day and pretty much have every opportunity imaginable to get distracted, I have to make sure I’m the master of my own distractions.
Easier said than done sometimes when you love techie stuff and have the time to play with it. So to kill two birds with one stone, I thought I’d share my top 10 techie tools I’ve found that help me save time, save money and helps with increasing productivity as a self employed do it yourself’er.
Hey I’m being productive by sharing this stuff with you. 😉
But with that being said, Increasing Productivity Can Be A Two Way Street.
You can easily get caught up in what new gadget or service you need to use in order to stay on top of the online world. Be aware of the trap!
[Important Note] If you’re not familiar with any or most of these, don’t try and use all of them at the same time or tack too many. I discovered them and integrated them into my work flow along the way, not at one time. With that said, just pick one or two and start using them as they may fit into your business. (Think of it as a buffet. You don’t have to try and eat everything or you’ll make yourself sick!)
(My) Tools For Increasing Productivity
Jing: I love me some Jing and I use it quite a bit for taking snapshots of my screen along with quick videos. I can do a screen capture shot or video on the fly, allow it to upload to Jings server and then simply fire a link over to someone to click on and review.
I can have an arrow pointing at something specific, a red box surrounding the area I want to point to and even include captions. It’s saved me lots of time trying to explain something to someone when truly, a picture (or video), says a thousand words.
I also use it to help create instructional ebooks for clients. Video is good but I’ve found they also like to have a PDF instructional where I do screen captures while walking them through an online process. I simply drag and drop the screen captured photoes that I save to my hard drive into the PDF (I use Mac Pages) and it’s done. Jing is free but does come with an upgraded version to shoot longer video.
DropBox: I use Dropbox to share larger files like video, audio and text files with with clients and with friends with who’m I want to share something super quick. I simply drop my file into the Dropbox folder that I’ve shared with the receiver and it pops up in their Dropbox folder on their end. Simple, fast and efficient. Oh yeah, it’s free too.
*When you invite people to Dropbox you receive an extra 250 megabytes to your existing 2 Gigs of storage that you already start with when you sign up. Again there’s an upgraded version for I think 50 to 100 Gigs and is probably worth it if you intend to share a lot of stuff.
Skype: It goes without being said I use Skype to talk with clients as well as with friends. I’m even able to share my screen with them if we’re talking about websites and obviously we can talk “face to face too. However I also use it for video interviews such as I did with life coaches Tim Brownson and Jana Fleming in my Deep Self Confidence System beta course. (I actually used Screen Flow screen capture software ($80) for Mac to record the interviews)
Skype also allows you, for a small fee, to create a phone number of which you can use for inbound and outbound calls and the rates aren’t bad at all. Skype simply kicks ass as a communication tool but can also be used to create great products.
Audacity: Audacity is great for editing, adding music and mixing audio for products or podcasts. It’s a free open source software and it’s pretty easy to use although if you’ve never used anything like this there will be a learning curve.
I also use Garage band for recording audio and a bit of mxing but I didn’t really include it here because not everyone uses a Mac. Audacity can be used on both Windows and Mac.
Freemind: Freemind is another free open source software for creating mindmaps. It doubles as a as a creative tool as well as a productivity tool. I actually included it in my recent eBook 7 Insider Tips You Need To Know Before Taking Your Expertise Online. It’s an excellent visual aid that allows your audience to see what you’re talking about in your ebook without having to do graphics. It makes your work interactive. I’m able to take someone deeper into processes and systems visually. It’s like an interactive process map and can be used for all sorts of products.
You can also use it to map out projects, books and anything else where a mindmap would be handy in visualizing the entire process. If you want to get a better idea go ahead and download the 7 Insider Tips ebook.
Evernote: I’ll just tell you right now, I’m note taking nerd. I use .txt files (otherwise known as Notepad on Windows) like they’re going out of style. I have my own little system set up on my Mac to find everything however it can still be cumbersome. Now there’s Evernote. I struggled with Evernote for a long time because I just couldn’t understand how it could serve me but I finally cracked the code on it. So I do my own digital projects and clients digital projects. I can snap up notes, pictures, create swipe files and immediately save it all to Evernote for future or current projects. If I’m out and about I can take pictures of stuff that inspires me and save it right to Evernote via my iPhone. (Lots of blog posts are inspired this way)
You can organize text, pictures (snap them right from your computer screen), and tag them with keywords for easy finding later. Oh and your iPhone and desk top version sink right up for easy for when you were saving stuff in Evernote while on the go. Bottom line, if you want to collect data for either creating your own content or are doing research for clients, Evernote is a great resource that helps you organize that collected data.
Kindle Reader: Maybe this isn’t so much ease for productivity as much as I just enjoy using the Free version and it saves cash. Who doesn’t like to save cash right? I’ve got the free Kindle reader on the Mac and I just love how easy it is to read. Not to mention you can find lots of books in the Kindle version for less than the physical or PDF versions.
Not much more to say about it but that it doesn’t hurt to have this on your computer. With that said there is a reason why the paid Kindle version sells like hot cakes. It’s easy to use and easier on the eyes when you’ve been staring at a computer screen all day.
Google Reader: Ok, so Google Reader may be more a service than a tech tool, but for me it’s still a big staple in organizing incoming information. I’ll admit I’ve never put that much emphasis on obtaining RSS subscribers but I’ve always found value in using RSS subscriptions. I’m subscribed to hundreds of blogs and it’s easy to scan them for valuable content or resources rather than become distracted by them coming in my Twitter, Google+ or Facebook stream.
[Hack]: I forget where I read this but it really stuck with me ~ Filter your incoming information by topic not by source. I set up folders in Google Reader for topics such as Marketing, Marketers, Authors, Speakers, SEO, Personal Development, etc. You get the point. I then file the blog subscription within that topic for easy scanning.
Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck for me is a huge time saver but could also be a huge time suck if not kept in check. It all depends on how you discipline yourself with it. I know other people like HooteSuite but I just never got into the fact it was another browser to be open on my desk top.
Tweetdeck is a stand alone service (bought by Twitter recently) and still has the ability to schedule tweets, segment lists, and even update individual social sites like, Facebook and Linkedin. I don’t have it open but a few times a day so I’m not tempted by it. If it somehow could integrate with Google+ I’m pretty sure I’d mary it.
BufferApp: Speaking of Twitter, BufferApp is a really cool time saver too. I’ve noticed it actually cuts down on my use of Tweetdeck these days too. You install the BufferApp plugin on any major browser (Firefox, Safari or Chrome) and you have a cool little button that you click on and BufferApp sends the URL along with a description (which you can edit) into your Twitter stream. It also allows you the option to schedule that Tweet for later. All right from your browser window. So if you want to send good content to your Twitter stream on the fly this is by far the fastest and easiest way to do it.
[Hack] I can go through my Google Reader Feeds and either tweet content directly from there with BufferApp or schedule those tweets for later at specific times. Again, all from one browser and in just a few minutes.
Social Bookmarking Tools:
Onlywire along with Social Monkee bookmarks your website URL to lots of sites such as Stumbleupon, Delicious, Facebook, Twitter Etc. I’ve used Onlywire quite a bit but just started using Social Monkee But both simply require you to add your URL and keywords within their browser interface and hit submit. This can help you get low grade backlinks from higher authority sites to your site and also drive traffic to your site. You’ll need to enter a code or two to allow the sites to post your URL but all in all, they are pretty simple to use.
Both have paid upgrades, like Onlywire Pro, in order to bookmark to more sites but the free versions do just fine too. For just a few minutes work you’ll pick up some new visitors to your site and a bunch of lower quality backlinks.
So what about you?
Do you have any tools that you use to save time, money or that helps you with increasing productivity online and if so, how do you use it?
Thérèse Cator says
Love this list Tony! Thanks for sharing!
Ali Davies says
Thanks for sharing Tony. As a recovering technical dinosaur it is good to hear other folks recommendations
Tony Teegarden says
You bet Ali! These are some cool tools. Maybe I’ll feature some of the awesome paid tools I use 🙂 Glad you dug them!
Just Too Scared says
Great list Tony. One tool I’ve been using lately is SelfControl by Steve Lambert. It’s a MAC OS App. Keeps me from wasting time on various sites when I need to be focused/working. It’s been a huge help!
Tony Teegarden says
Hey great Share. I’m all about Mac OS Apps that make sense. I purposely kept the list to stuff that could be used whether someone is using Windows or Mac. But since I’m a Mac head of course I lean that way 😉 Thanks for the share and I’ll give it a looksy.
Hi Tony. Thanks for the tips! I actually use Sticky Notes (real ones AND the desktop version). I like that they are right there in front of my face. And I found a nifty inexpensive little iPhone app for organizing life called Toodledo. Easy format for me because I get bored easily and it has to be quick to learn and use and navigate or I won’t use it. I think most of us motivational types have restless/curious/always thinking minds and really need things to keep us focused, and it is different for everyone. That is what I am working on now: Focus and Organization. So thanks for the tips. I am sure I will waste a few hours checking them all out! =D
Tim Brownson says
I absolutely love Dropbox. In fact if it were a woman I may well have an affair with it and I’m happily married. Just saving a post I’m writing on my desktop and know I can pic it up exactly where I was on my laptop is so cool.
I have Kindle on my Mac but as out conversation yesterday Tony, I just hate reading audio books on a computer, it seems just too much like work to me.
Tony Teegarden says
Glad you found them helpful Coryn! Thanks for sharing the iPhone app. I actually decided not to add any iPhone stuff in there but I could do a post just on iPhone apps! Thanks for sharing Toodledo. Checking it out now. P.s. Don’t waste too much time 😉 lol
Tony Teegarden says
Yeah Tim, I absolutely adore Dropbox too. One of my favorites that’s really made my life a lot easier online.
I’ll admit, reading on a computer is certainly not my favorite either however I’ve found I enjoy reading on the free Kindle more than I do even PDF’s. Oh and of course let’s not discount the fact that my absolute favorite is reading “an actual book” lol. Something to be said for highlighters and dog earing pages 😉
Tony Teegarden says
You bet Therese 🙂
Isaac A Wardell says
I use several of those on a regular basis, never heard of FreeMind though, I’ll have to check it out.
Bruce Bates says
If you like onlywire and socialmonkee I highly suggest you try lavalinx.
Tony Teegarden says
Thanks Bruce! That’s what I love about a community. I always dig discovering new tools.