Have you ever landed on a website or looked at someone’s business and wondered what nuts and bolts actually keep the big machine running? Look no further — technology has always been a love of my life, and this is a curated list of the tools I use to keep me efficient, effective and sane. All links are set to open in a new window so that you can easily return to this page.
Access all courses and templates ($500 value) by joining Momentum, my private community. Get notified when doors re-open, and sign-up for the free 21-day Momentum Safari: daily prompts to help you generate focus and flow for your most important work.
- Idea Capture
- Business Templates
- Coaching Templates
- Beyond Google Everything (Docs, Calendar, Gmail, etc.) I rely daily on a 1-2-3 punch of the following tools: Workflowy for my master list, TeuxDeux for a daily and weekly play-by-play, and Evernote for capturing all longer-term ideas and brainstorming.
- Captio is great for emailing notes to yourself on-the-go in just two clicks (far fewer than sending yourself an email).
- For mind-mapping, check out Bubble.us, a free web application for brainstorming online and MindMeister. For Mac/iPad/iOS, I use Simple Mind.
- I use Instapaper for reading later across all devices (to reduce the problem of having a million tabs open), which is like the Evernote of a “read later” app — it is available for download (and saving articles) across every device.
- I use Feedly for staying up-to-date with blogs. Instapaper also integrates with apps like Feedly and Zite, so you can send articles to it from multiple places.
- I keep track of what I’m reading and write mini book reviews on GoodReads. This is great for sharing reviews with friends; I often find new books to check out from reading others’ reviews in the weekly digest email.
- Omniwriter is a distraction-free “writing environment” that serves as “your own private writing room where you can close the door behind you to focus on your writing in peace.”
- Scrivener is a “powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.” Features include formatting multiple documents, outlining and mind-mapping, sticky notes, full-screen editing and more.
- Hemingway App is a fantastic automatic editor. Here’s how it works: after you enter a block of text, it will tell you how many sentences or phrases are: hard to read, very hard to read, contain adverbs (in place of more powerful verbs), contain words or phrases that can be simpler, or use passive voice.
- My Authors@Google Talk: 10 Lessons I Learned During the Publishing Process
- OhLife is online journaling software that sends you an email prompt each week (or at a frequency of your choosing) asking, “How did your week go?” with a summary of what you wrote the previous week, or even at a random interval ago. Backs up to Dropbox.
- FutureMe.org allows you to write a letter to your future self; will send back to you at the future date that you designate.
- 750words.com is an online answer to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages (from the book The Artists Way). Encourages you to free-write for at least 750 words (the equivalent of three long-form pages).
- I’ve compiled the best of the best in my Inbox Zero Toolkit—your one-stop-shop of 50+ of the best tools, techniques and systems I’ve collected to take email from all-consuming to a sense of freedom and ease. The toolkit includes a 10-day email series and lifetime access to an ever-growing set of tools and shortcuts. You are destined for greater things—the Inbox Zero Toolkit will help you spend fewer hours in front of your inbox and more time on the stuff that really matters!
- Mailstrom and Unroll.me help de-clutter your inbox. Mailstrom provides tools for bulk processing in minutes; Unroll.me works with gmail by showing you a list of ALL lists you are subscribed to and allows you to mass unsubscribe (yay!)
- SaneBox is a great tool that summarizes and filters non-important email, such as newsletters for reading quickly at a glance. Also check out NutshellMail, a service that sends a daily (or at a frequency you suggest) digest of all social media activity.
- The Email Game is a fun way to make processing email fun and efficient.
- Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature – use this in conjunction with Gmail’s superstars feature, with different stars denoting different types of email and priority. For example: I use a yellow star for important emails that I want to get to that day or week, exclamation emails to mark highly important, time sensitive or overdue for a reply, then I use the blue stars for emails that involve scheduling.
- Boomerang for Gmail – a must-have tool that can delay send on outgoing emails or set emails to leave your inbox and come back at a future date. This feature is great for following-up with people, or getting a long-term email to do out of your way.
- Rapportive for Gmail – social spying at it’s finest! Rapportive shows someone’s latest updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to the righthand side of a message they’ve sent. It also helps you make sure you’re connected with the people you want to be, and shows a photo of the person you are corresponding with.
- WiseStamp is a fun tool for creating fancy signatures.
- Outright for expense tracking; it’s like Mint for small business with quarterly reporting and tax-time reminders. For a more in-depth online system check out Xero)
- Shoeboxed is an essential tool for saving receipts online so you don’t have to keep shoeboxes stacked up at home. Snap a quick photo with your phone or mail them in each month.
- TaxReceipts provides awesome reminders and need-to-know tips each tax period.
- OurDeal is great for executing online contracts. Print? Scan? Fax? What the?! No longer necessary.
- Freshbooks helps small business-owners invoice, track time and manage expenses.
- Ignorance is not bliss: the top 5 things every entrepreneur needs to know when starting out — key tips and tools from Kyle Durand, an entrepreneur with a law and accounting background, including the spreadsheet I used to track VA-related tasks.
My Detailed Guides:
- An in-depth 35-minute podcast (and 4+ pages of notes) on Systems and Strategy for How I Work With my VA
- Be sure to also check out my comprehensive guide on Juggling Operations for 4 Companies: How I Work with My Communications Director (Google Doc)
99 Designs is great for logos — designers compete to “win” your work.
- Upwork is the go-to resource for hiring contractors for small or big jobs (photo retouching, designing ads, and even bigger projects like web development) — in the U.S. and overseas.
For Virtual Assistant Services, check out:
- U.S. Based: Zirtual.com (my hands-down favorite), ContemporaryVA.com, Prialto.com
- Overseas VAs: VirtualStaffFinder.com, SupremeOutsourcing.com, TasksEveryDay.com,BrickworkIndia.com, AskSunday.com, OnlineJobs.ph (primary service for the Philippines)
- Quick and cheap: MTurk.com, TaskRabbit and Zaarly (for location-based requests), and Fiverr (jobs that people will complete for $5)
- Trello is super simple, intuitive, easy-to-use project management software.
- For a more sophisticated solution, check out Basecamp, Asana or Flow.
- Checkvist is an up-and-comer tool that allows people to “manage complex tasks together”
- Your team may also benefit from iDoneThis: it will send a daily email that invites team members to reply with tasks they have completed. The next day it will send the entire team a digest of completed work.
- TripIt is an essential travel app for managing upcoming trips all in one place. If you use gmail, it will automatically pull hotel and flight itineraries from your inbox. It also tracks your travel stats and shows you upcoming trips of people in your network.
- Earth Class Mail is a virtual mailroom you can use while traveling; it scans images of your mail and lets you decide how to process it from afar
- HotelTonight is an awesome up-and-comer app that allows you to check unused hotel inventory from 12pm on the day you want to stay. It’s a fun way for fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants travelers to get hotel reservations at bargain prices in just a few easy clicks, from the convenience of your phone.
- Insight Timer is an app for meditation that allows you to set a time, starts and ends with a tibetan bowl chime, and prompts you to journal at the end (if you want to). Records your meditation statistics which can be motivating if you are on a roll.
- AskMeEvery will send you an email at the end of every day with a question you create. Reply with your report, and track adherence over time.
- MyFitness Pal – Although there are dozens of apps just like this one, it’s one of my favorites for tracking food and exercise for a few days, just to see how you’re doing. I don’t track religiously, but it’s nice for checking in from time-to-time.
- Droplr: Allows you to quickly take screenshots, and drag, drop and share easily.
- Bit.ly is a tool for shortening URLs and tracking their click statistics. It will notify you when one of your links is trending; also allows you to customize the name of the link.
- Chrome Extensions that help with design and development: Web Developer Toolbar, The Grids, MeasureIt, EyeDropper (to help find hex codes for web colors), WhatFont (identifies the font-family and font-size anywhere you click).
- Video: 10 Tech Tools I can’t live without
- At Life After College: a compilation of 90+ “must use” tech tools from LAC readers.
- World Time Buddy works well for proposing meeting times (particularly useful while traveling); shows exactly what time it is across up to five time zones.
- Doodle.com is a long-time favorite of mine (and free!) that is best at coordinating an event with a large number of people: people vote on when they are free and the tool shows you which day/time the most people are available.
- ScheduleOnce – Online appointment scheduling made easy, with lots of additional features as you move up in pricing plan (though you can get a solid set of features just starting at $5/mo)
- Satori– More sophisticated streamlined system build specifically for coaches to help with all aspects of business, particularly new client intake, scheduling, and invoicing. Plans start at $25/mo.