The Tool Kit

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An evolving list of tools for tackling the daily grind.
Some novel and new, some tried and true.

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FOR BUSINESS

Dropbox iconDropbox: While there are plenty of tools for document management and I do occasionally use Google Drive, my strong preference is for Dropbox as my one stop shop.  Best feature: installing it as “my drive” on my computers so that everything syncs automatically.  Free, but worth paying for the $9.99/month Pro (100 GB) plan – think photos.  *Referral perk: 500MB of additional space in your account.

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Evernote iconEvernote: Far and away the most essential tool in my toolkit.  Evernote functions as my brain, and it handles everything from my family’s social security numbers to daily meeting notes and project proposals – I run my business in Evernote.  I also regularly train individuals and teams on how to take advantage of its vast features.  Free, or $45 annually – again, worth every penny and then some.  *Referral perk: free Evernote Premium trial. 

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freshbooks iconFreshbooks: This is the single solution I use for time tracking, business expenses and invoicing.  I cannot possibly express how much I love it and how relieved I am that I chose it over Quickbooks.  It’s smooth, simple and easy to access from desktop to iPad to iPhone.  Free for one client, $19.95 – $39.95 plans.  I feel as though I pay $20 per month for my own personal bookkeeper.  *Referral perk: free 30 day trial.

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moo iconMoo.com: While there are admittedly hundreds of great options both online and in your own local community (which I love supporting), for business cards my heart belongs to Moo.  I love their mini cards for my own business, and their collaboration with artists and designers creates hundreds of beautiful options for easily designing your own cards, which arrive at your door super fast.  Check out the stickers, notecards and other options as well.  Referral perk: 10% off your first order, plus free shipping if you sign up for their e-news.

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sunrise iconSunrise: I had no idea that my run of the mill native calendar app – which I use dozens of times daily to check appointments and schedule meetings while syncing across devices – was an area that needed improvement, but Sunrise makes me happy countless times daily.  I receive a daily digest email showing all my appointments across multiple calendars, events from Facebook and LinkedIn, birthdays as well as links to information on the people I’m meeting… all consolidated, prettily.  Trust me.  (Free)

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teux deux iconTeux Deux: I have tried many (MANY) task list options, and they all fell short for my needs with the exception of Action Method (recently put out to pasture by Behance) and Teux Deux, which is touted as a “simple, designy” to do list.  It is precisely that, and I love that daily tasks roll forward if not completed and that there are not a bunch of distracting bells and whistles.  If you’re not sure whether it’s for you, read the smart FAQ section including “Negative Nancy time.”  If you relate, it’s probably a fit.  $24 – $36 annually; I use across my Mac, iPad & iPhone.

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timebridge iconTimebridge: There are plenty of options for scheduling group meetings without all the back and forth emails, but I’ve been using Timebridge for about six years and it’s just simple and familiar – propose five times and easily see when the majority of attendees are available.  I also like that users have a dedicated conference call number, which is useful for me for client meetings as a one woman shop.  Free.

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trello iconTrello: While I love Teux Deux for my task list, Trello is the perfect tool for visually managing the various components of project management, particularly projects that include numerous moving parts.  It looks a lot like a wall full of Post-It notes, with various project tasks organized on boards and cards – easily rearranged, and each card can be shared with clients or collaborators and “flipped over” to add checklists, due dates or delegation.  I wrote more about Trello here.  Free.

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FOR COMMUNICATION & SOCIAL MEDIA

buffer iconBuffer: I love this tool for randomly scheduling social media and sharing content.  While I can easily schedule posts at a specific time within most social media platforms, I love the Buffer app for spreading out my shares throughout the day.  I tend to consume content first thing in the morning (say, scrolling Twitter or LinkedIn Pulse around 7a) and I may find 3 – 4 things worth sharing, but I don’t want them all shared at 7:05a with radio silence the rest of the day.  I use a great combination of Buffer, Pocket and Evernote to consume cultivate and share content throughout the work week and while keeping my sanity.  *Referral perk: an extra space in your Buffer and a free trial.  Free, but worth upgrading to Awesome ($8.50/month) if you’re a marketer or content strategist.

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cartolina iconCartolina: This is probably my best recommendation – it’s an absolute gem.  Cartolina produces gorgeous paper products and gifts as well as producing three gorgeous, artful apps to elevate less than thrilling electronic communication.  Grab all three Cartolina apps to take it to the next level the next time you’re sending an email that needs the warmth of a handwritten note at the speed of digital.  $1.99 each and worth every penny.  You’re welcome.

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emma iconE-Newsletters:  I have two preferences for e-newsletters and email marketing: Emma and Mailchimp.  Each has merits for various clients and needs.  Magpie Marketing is an Emma agency, which means we have reduced pricing for clients who want gorgeous e-newsletters and outstanding stats.  Alternatively, Mailchimp is equally robust but more cost-effective (free for up to 2,500 emails).  *Referral perks: Reduced pricing for Emma through Magpie Marketing (contact me), $30 in MonkeyRewards toward paid plans on Mailchimp.

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+kKlout: This intriguing tool for measuring online relevance recently leapfrogged out of the back of the pack to join the other front runners on my list of must-have apps and tools.  With a sleek new dashboard and smart tools for the savvy strategist, it’s an excellent tool for marketers and communicators.  I thoroughly describe the site’s assets in this post: The New Klout.  Free.  *Referral perks: Klout offers perks to all users, but they haven’t been terribly appealing to me so far – however, to each his own!

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pocket iconPocket: This is my holding tank for interesting content (see the note on Buffer as well).  As I find interesting links through websites, blogs and social media I send anything I want to read later or review more in depth to Pocket.  This lets me be ruthless about keeping content out of my inbox, and I’ve built a speedy process of reading, sharing and storing content using Buffer, Pocket and Evernote.  The browser extension allows quick filing of items into Pocket for later reading, and a one-stop shop for catching up on content.  (Free)

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rapportive iconRapportive: This nifty addition to Gmail (and a plug-in for multiple browsers) gives background on each person with whom you exchange emails, allowing you to connect with them on LinkedIn, follow on Twitter and see other consolidated information without leaving your inbox.  It’s like a mini CRM that plays nicely with your email.  (Free)

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tweetdeck iconTweetdeck: While this isn’t exactly earth-shattering, I think it is worth sharing: I vastly prefer Tweetdeck (acquired by Twitter) to Hootsuite.  Maybe it’s just me, but Hootsuite doesn’t seem to keep up with my needs, and Tweetdeck is free and responsive for managing multiple social media accounts, hashtags or search terms – especially in real time.  Free.

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unroll iconUnroll.me: The single best thing you can do for your sanity: set up this fantastic service, which consolidates email subscriptions, e-newsletters, blog posts and deal alerts you’ve subscribed to into one daily email and cuts down on inbox distractions.  Free.

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MISCELLANEOUS TOOLS

1password icon1Password: Two years ago, I couldn’t be convinced that it was necessary to have a password management system, and I was perfectly happy with my password protected spreadsheet, thank you very much. I was an idiot.  I love that 1Password has browser extensions to collect, store and generate passwords, and the iOS and Android apps keep everything handy, stored behind virtual steel walls.  $17.99.

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contently iconContently: This virtual portfolio is an amazing resource for freelance writers and journalists.  I’m delighted to have been able to collect dozens of articles and guest posts for numerous print and online publications from more than a decade into one place.  Previously, I had a mix of scanned articles, physical magazines, dysfunctional links to online publications and a general feeling of chaos about my portfolio.  More about my affection for Contently here.  Free.

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fitbit iconFitbit: While not technically a business tool or app, my Fitbit is one of the most essential items in my everyday life.  I love {LOVE} the ability to track my steps, distance traveled, calories burned and to go completely overboard by tracking my sleep time – I promise, it is riveting.  If you want more awareness about your daily activities, are curious how many miles you actually walk every day or have fitness goals, the Fitbit is essential.  Trust me, I’d be happy to wax poetic about it – I’ve been wearing various iterations since 2010.  $59 – $129.

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visualcv iconVisualCV: There are a number of services that allow you to create an innovative and sharp-looking online resume (which is essential to go into more detail than is appropriate on LinkedIn) including Sumry, About.me and others, but I happened on VisualCV first and remain a fan.  I love sharing a link rather than a tired document that blends with every other person on the planet, and the layout (including sidebar links to social profiles) is appealing.  And, since my resume is used for interaction with clients and publications vs. job-seeking, it needs to stand out.  Free.

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As an eternal app and tool lover, I’m always happy to share my favorite finds.  You’ll find them listed here, and I’m also fortunate to be a tech contributor over on IHeartOrganizing.  Here’s my most recent post – join me along with Jen and the rest of her team if you’re a secret (or not-so-secret) organizing enthusiast!

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*Note on referrals: Many of these items may include affiliate links, or the companies may provide upgrades for referrals.  When you rave enthusiastically to others about products you believe in, you’ll often hear “You should get a commission on that!”  So, yes – when a perk is offered for recommending something I would enthuse about anyway, I accept!  If you’re considering using one of these products, thanks for letting me recommend it and reap a little reward.  In many cases, new users also receive referral perks and benefits by using the link in my summary to sign up – I’ve made note of this where applicable.

0 thoughts on “The Tool Kit

  1. Good grief! I’m going to have to spend a whole day going through all these! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Added several to my check out list, but happy to see that you have several of my “must haves” like pocket and evernote already on here. Sad to see you don’t use more with Google Drive…I am LOVING the potential it has! Started using it as my school where I teach uses GOOGLE APPS FOR EDUCATION and I’m now using it in my personal life as well.

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