"Work smarter, not harder” is how the maxim goes. How about making it a "both/and” to help you do your best work, to help you be more decisive, serve hard, lead humbly, and to steadfastly pursue Jesus in your work and life.
Shortly, I'll create a stand-alone page with this library of tools and resources which I’ll keep updated. Until then I'll be adding to this post 5 tools each day over the next five days.
- NeuYear's The Week Dominator (neuyear.net)
Did you know we are 2-3 times more likely to do something if we state our intention and when/where we’ll do a thing? Yep. And that's why I love the Week Dominator. Yes, it is analogy but it gives me the whole week beautifully laid out in a minimalistic way. Not only that, the days are not dated so you never "lose" a week while on vacation or that, so the calendar actually lasts you longer than a year.
What’s more, I found out about these killer productivity product(s) from a Four Hour Workweek blog post where the owner Jesse unashamedly gave Jesus full credit for the success they launching thier first product. What a stud. I’m a raving fan of NeuYear.net and thier products, many of which I use or have used. (Here is an affiliate discount link which will get you 10% off your order of calendars or planners or other productivity products)
- Evernote (evernote.com)
If you write, compose articles, need an online notebook to capture ideas, thoughts, or things you find online (or offline), or simply need a spot to capture notes, ideas, or important documents electronically, I highly recommend Evernote. The place where I keep track of all my writing, ideas, notes, etc. It’s a wondefully robust tool to stay organized. It syncs across all devices so capturing ideas and thoughts on the fly is a breeze.
- Canva (canva.com)
Want to make delightfully designed digital media? Who doesn't. But not everyone is a designer who can just whip up delightfully designed media. That's where Canva comes in. Canva has truly democritized good design. In other words, anyone can produce elegant, well designed marketing collateral — from brochures, to cards, to resumés, to blog headers, you name it — with the help of their predesigned templates and drag and drop editor. No need to be a professional graphic designer to make beautiful looking media you can be proud of. No need to ever use clipart and Microsoft Word again!
- Pablo by Buffer (pablo.buffer.com)
Similar to Canva in that it helps you create wonderfully designed and simple digital media, Pablo is a wonderful tool. It is perfect (and outperforms Canva) specifically for creating social media shareables pre-formatted for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Instagram.
One thing I love is the ability to create a design and switch between the different optimised dimensions for sharing to different social platforms, a feature Canva does not currently have. This helps make sure your images are formatting properly and getting seen on the different platforms and not cut off.
For quickly and easily creating good looking marketing collateral for social media, Pablo is the way to go.
- Buffer (buffer.com)
For the sake of time, it is powerful to be able to batch create content and schedule it out over the course of several days, weeks, or months using Buffer's simple and easy to use dashboard. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, writing, publishing, and marketing a post or article are three very different and time consuming tasks. Buffer is super effective in helping you semi-automate the "marketing" side of your content creation by helping you schedule out where, when, your content is seen across social media platforms — a very effective way to save time while not loosing any effort in increasing your brand awareness.
I've tried similar products like Hootsuit, but Buffer is hands down, best in class.
- Fount (fount.artequalswork.com)
Does a font ever catch your eye on a webpage and you wonder what font thier using? No? Welp, that’s becasue I’m a nerd I guess. But if you do appreciate web aesthetics and are constantly observing how different sites effectively delight users through design and micro engagement (like typeface and font) to make raving fans, then you'll appreciate Fount. It allows you to "identify any web font you see" on your screen with a simple click. Very handy if you'd like to identify a font and use in your own design or site.
- Boomerang for Gmail (boomeranggmail.com)
Hands down one of the most powerful tools I use for staying on top of my inbox, following up with prospects or leads effectively, and making sure important conversations never fall through the cracks. You can "boomerang" conversations you'd like to revisit later to leave your inbox (got to maintain that inbox: zero ya know) and return on a date/time you choose. This allows you to keep your inbox super clean and avoid letting your email become your de facto to-do list.
If you spend any amount of time in your inbox (and use Gmail), Boomerang is a must-have.
Another handy feature is the 'send later' feature which allows you to do exactly that — compose an email and set it to send at a later time and date. Super effective if you'd like to follow up a conversation right away but don't want to seem desperate or overeager, want to make sure your note hits their inbox at an optimal time to not get buried (like 9am or just before lunch), or make your boss think you're still hard at work at 11pm when you're actually sound asleep ;)
- Pocket (getpocket.com, iOS)
When I come across a good article or catchy headline or someone sends me a link to read, I rarely have time in that moment to consume the information, but don't want to let forget to read it or let it get buried in my inbox. So I’ll save these article to Pocket, which syncs across all devices and internet browsers, to batch read these later while I’m at the gym or on Saturday mornings or in a plane. Super great for making sure you're still staying informed, keeping up with the blogs you follow, but without feeling the need to consume content at the very moment it hits your feed or your inbox.
- ROMWOD (romwod.com)
ROMWOD (which stands for "Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day") is like having a personal trainer walking you through the most relaxing and loosening cool down stretch. It's kind of like a relaxation protocol for your body, soul, and mind.
I’ve tried yoga, it’s pretty good, but almost too active — I always end up sweating profusely and I once did a traditional yoga workout called "Happy Hammies" and my hammies were anything but. Think of ROMWOD as a more relaxing, contemplative, passive approach to yoga where you end your romwod “workout” feeling completely open, limber, powerful, and peaceful. The focus is on breathing and passivlely working out the kinks. I like to spend the quite time praying and meditating while doing the routines which generally last about 10-20 minutes. "Romwod - It does the body good."
- He Reads Truth (hereadstruth.com, iOS)
This masculine and minimalistic bible and devotional app is elegantly designed with the user in mind. It’s delightful and the devotions (which I try to do every morning) are deep, thought provoking, yet “snackable” and can be done in 15-20 minutes (sometime less). A staple part of any morning routine. It's like hipster designers made a bible app.
- Blue Book by Jim Branch
For many years this untitled devotional was a grassroots-y underground bestseller of sorts. It wasn't for sale, really. It was more a word of mouth movement that seemed like you had to know a guy who knows a guy in order to get this book packed with weekly devotionals which are deep, flexible, and structured in a wonderful thematic and structured way. Each day consists of opening prayer, scripture, thematic readings for reflection, song, etc. Compared to the He Reads Truth app (#10 above), the Blue Book is a slightly more more robust guided devotional time and is a great resource if you're trying to develop your spiritual life but don't feel like you can just open a bible and direct your own devotional from scratch all the time.
- TurboScan for iPhone (iOS)
If you're ever in need of scanning and sending a document and don't happen to be within 10 feet of a scanner (or even if you are) this app allows you to use your phones camera for extremely accurate and clear scans of documents you may need to scan in a pinch. Truly a clutch tool to have in your Productivity folder on your smartphone.
- Expensify (expensify.com, iOS)
Expensify makes tracking expenses and creating expense reports fun…well, not fun, but the funnest you’ll ever get doing somehting so mind numbing. You can enter relatively painlessly log expenses, create reports, snap receipts, and even SmartScan your receipts to automatically upload to a given report with little manual entry. If you ever have to fill out expense forms, this tool will save you significant time and headache.
- Time Buddy for iPhone (iOS)
Living abroad and travelling, setting up meetings and calls, etc. can get hairy with different time zones. I don't use this app everyday, but it is a huge time saver when I need to see what time it is in a particular city compared to where I happen to be. From Seattle to London, Costa Rica to Cleveland, New Orleans to Nashville this Time Buddy app is super helpful.
- Google Translate App (iOS)
If you're learning a new language, or like me live in a culture which doesn't speak your language of origin, having a translate app is super helpful in a pinch to recall a word or look one up. I have yet to find a translate app as easy to use and reliable as this one. During worship I often come across a word which I don't recognize. My first option is to ask my wife what it means; my second is Google Translate app.
- Unroll.me (www.unroll.me)
Do you sign up for different newsletters, or want to follow different thought leaders from around the interwebz, or don't sign up for newsletters and digital publications for fear of crowding your already crowded inbox? Unroll.me is your answer to keeping that inbox clean and manageable. Sync unroll.me with your email client and you can quickly and easily see all the companies and people who have your email and you can quickly and easily unsubscribe from those you don't want to hear from. From those you do want to hear from you can "Roll Up" to be compiled each day into one single email which has all the publications you do want - keeping you inbox nice and clean. Trust me, it's pretty sweet solution to still hearing from those you want to hear from without the dreaded inbox overwhelm.
- Postable — "Really nice cards, mailed for you." (postable.com)
Allows you to pick from curated collections of wonderfully designed cards, type your message, and then Postable prints, stamps & mails your cards for you. It's a HUGE time saver and the cards cost just as much (or less) that you'd pay at getting a Hallmark and buying postage. You also get the added benefit of being able to copy, paste, delete, rearrange your note without having to get a new card because you messed up or grab the white out pen (which is the biggest benefit for me as what ends up on the page often is the result of several drafts or iterations). The cards are printed in handwritten font and I often get complimented on my nice handwriting.
- Stock Photos Sites (for license-free good-looking photos you can use for whatevs)
For a while, finding great looking, license-free stock photos that didn't look stock was hard. Then I discovered a few clutch sites which have beautiful, artistic, and well composed photos all license-free so you can modify, crop, overlay text, use for commercial use, or whatever else you want to do. Here are my top go-tos:
+ Unsplash (unsplash.com) — my top spot for finding great stock photos (including the header image on this post!).
+ The New Old Stock (nos.twnsnd.co) — interesting vintage photos from the public archives.
+ Death To The Stock Photo (deathtothestockphoto.com) — they'll send you a pack of 10 photos (usually by some theme or adventure shoot DTS has been on recently) each month. Also, they are from Columbus...reppin' the O-H-I-O!
+ The Stocks (TheStocks.im) — A repository of sorts of all the different license free stock photo sites in one place. (Usually I'll go to The Stocks if I'm not finding what I'm looking for at Unsplash or The New Old Stock sites.)
- Squarespace (squarespace.com)
I've used everything from Strikingly, to Weebly, to Wordpress, and even have some experience with Umbraco in building out different projects on the web. If you're looking to get a beautiful and simple blog or website up and running quickly with little technical know-how (or just don't have the patience to mess with the backend stuff), Squarespace, which this site is built on, is my recommendation.
- Wordpress (wordpress.org)
If you do want more customizablitity and the full freedom to choose from endless themes and features, a wordpress hosted site might be your best bet. I've used Wordpress to build out several websites for our nonprofit recently, and the process isn't one I'd necessarily recommend. My saving grace with some of the technical issues I ran into with customizing our sites was being able to send "Code: RED! I broke the internet again!" messages to a junior web developer friend who'd help me get unstuck. The process learning the WP backend has been a great one. So if you're curious and have the time and energy, have a go at WP.
- Mailchimp (mailchimp.com) — "send better email"
Mailchimp is an amazing tool for sending email newsletters. Plain and simple. I use their Free account for personal newsletters (like this blog's amazing newsletter), and I've used their full Pro account for our nonprofit and for some work with an online company I've consulted for. From their drag and drop editor to their robust features like automation and workflow, it's the best free place to start cultivating and serving your online tribe in a delightful and effective way.
- Click Funnels (clickfunnels.com) — "marketing funnels in minutes"
If you're looking to set up a website with the sole purpose of digitally marketing a product or service online (e.g. an ebook, membership site, info product, or on-line coaching or consulting service), CF is an uber-powerful product to help you with just that. While some of the tools I mentioned above (Wordpress, Squarespace, Gumroad, Mailchimp) are my recommendation for building your brand presences and audience online and can certainly be used to frankenstein an online product sales funnel from start to finish together, CF is my recommendation if you're just looking to launch a product that sells.
It's a one-stop-shop for everything from email automation, sales pages, squeeze pages, shopping cart set up, tripwire and product sales, automated sales funnels, and online product delivery. It truly is "everything you need to market, sell, and deliver your products online." My work with CF has been extensive since setting up multiple sales funnels for an online membership site I've had the privilege of helping craft and create a full sales funnel (using CF) from start to finish.
CF isn't free though. After the 14-day free trial, it will run you between $100-$300/mo. This may seem like a lot (and it's certainly not chump change) it's actually a small price to pay considering this one product can/will replace your website, email newsletter service, analytics tools, shopping cart, and any other service you may need to build an online business.
- Gumroad (gumroad.com) — "helps creators take control of their creative career"
Gumroad is an online marketplace where you can sell your digital products (music, ebooks, etc.). It's convenient, easy to set up, and a really solid option if your looking to sell a digital product. You only pay a small fee every time a product sells. When I wrote The Fundraising Playbook, I used (and still use) Gumroad to facilitate the sales of the book. I built a landing page on Strikingly and the checkout and product payment on Gumroad. Check out this super helpful "Gumroad QuickStart Guide" put together by the guys at Fizzle.co.
- Smallpdf.com (smallpdf.com) — "a free solution to all your PDF problems"
The benefit is in the name — it makes your delightfully designed and content-packed PDFs which are too big to send via email or download in any short order, smaller. The cool thing is, smallpdf.com does WAY more than compress PDF files. You can rotate, split, merge, protect and unlock pdfs. You can convert PDFs to Excel docs and back again. You can make an image a PDF or a PFD an image. ¡Y más!
- Pomodoro Time App (iTunes App Store)
Certainly, you don't need to use this app, you could just set a timer, but this little clock that sits at on my menu bar is such a nice way to set and track how many Pomodoros I complete to maximize my work time and stay productive. (If you're unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique you can read more about it here). "I don't always break my time into 25 minute work increments with a 5 minute break, but when I do, I use Pomodoro Time on my macbook."