Useful Apps, Resources and Tools

Here are some of the tools and apps I used to nearly triple my daily productivity (most of us only average 2-4 hours a day). I use most of them on a daily or near-daily basis. Most of them are free.

A quick note on philosophy. I don’t believe in the “perfect” tool. All tools are flawed, and which ones you choose should be based on your goals. A CEO works very differently from an artist. The people who are always trying the next best toy are the ones who get nothing done. Plus, far more important than any tool are the PRINCIPLES…

External Brain, Notetaking

  • Evernote — My main external brain. I use it for research, strategic planning, annotation and much more. This is what keeps me paperless at the end of my day.
  • OneNote — I use a tablet computer with a pen to take written notes. Other times I use pen and paper.
  • Day One — A beautiful journaling app that I use every morning. The sheer pleasure of use is part of the reason I was able to start writing consistently every morning. (If you’re on Windows, check out Life Journal.)
  • The Zettelkasten System — This is the only notetaking system I’ve found that doesn’t frustrate me. Most notetaking is linear and highly structured, which makes it hard to grow your knowledge base as you learn new things. The Zettelkasten “slip box” system solves that problem.

 Time and Task Management

  • Todoist — My go-to task management app. It’s free and syncs across all of your devices. I organize tasks with a modified form of David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done).
  • Trello — How to visualize larger projects. (I’ve now switched to something offline and simpler, but I still think this is an excellent tool.)
  • Google Sheets — I do old school time and habit tracking with a custom spreadsheet. It lets me see where my best hours are and select what habits I focus on each week.
  • Workflowy – This is where I keep and build all of my writing ideas. (You can see how I work in this post I wrote for patrons.)

Focus, Behavioral Change

  • Cold Turkey — I use this to block distracting websites for the most important hours of my day.
  • Beeminder — Reach your goals… or pay the price. Beeminder charges exponentially more money each time you fail a goal. Use this when failure is not an option.
  • Coach.me — Social accountability for “loading” good habits or deleting bad ones. Track habits or hire a coach to help you succeed.

Learning Things

  • Anki — Never forget anything again. This is what I used to learn Japanese in 18 months and read basic Chinese on 5 minutes a day.
  • Kindle — How I do a lot of my reading. I highlight passages for export later.

Outsourcing, Hiring

  • Upwork — The biggest network of freelancers on the planet. It lets me outsource tasks so that I can focus on my most important ones.
  • Fiverr — Just $5 to get all sorts of tasks done by freelancers, designers, marketers and other creatives. I used this to make my site logo in less than 24 hours.

Miscellaneous Goodies

  • COLEMAK — An alternative keyboard layout to the horridly inefficient QWERTY that everyone uses. I have been on it for years, and it has erased my wrist pain. It is designed to be easier (and faster) than DVORAK, another popular layout.