Essential Tech Tools to Get Things Done


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I’ll let you in on a little secret…just between you and me…I’m a bit of productivity geek. I love new gadgets and applications that remind me of an easy button. Anything that can make me better, smarter, faster – while making it easy – is a great tool in my book. Anything that saves time and provides a lot of value is also doing a great job with customer experience.

I’ve broken down my essential technology tools into two categories: hardware and software. Check them out below and let me know about the tools you’re using in the comment section.


Apple rules the roost here. The MBP/iPad/iPhone combo is damn near impossible to beat. Even so, there are a couple other tools I use that are essential to getting things done.

MacBook Pro

The MBP is my workhorse. It routinely runs 14 hour days and chugs along with nary a restart required. I used to have a high-end Sony Vaio, but well, you know how that turned out.


I pre-ordered an iPad on the first day and have loved it ever since it arrived on my doorstep. It’s great for travel and reading while on the couch or lying in bed. I’ve been using it much more since the release of iOS4.

iPhone 4

Just a smaller version of the iPad, but with a phone and camera built in. I use it more than my iPad just because of its convenience and similar performance. I love the front-facing camera and HD video capabilities. The integration with Exchange is also huge for me.


I picked up a Livescribe Pen (affiliate link) a few months ago and still use it quite a lot, especially when meeting with clients or reviewing detailed specs with our programmers. Being able to instantly hear the recorded conversation by tapping a word in my notes is just awesome. They’ve also added integration with Evernote.

MiFi Hotspot

I have a Verizon MiFi through work. It allows me to access the internet from just about anywhere I am. It also allows me to use my iPad just about anywhere, and that’s a big bonus for me. I’m not sure I’d be willing (or able) to fork out the monthly nut on my own, but I gladly let the company pick this one up for me.

Software and Applications

I use a lot of different apps to accomplish anything. The following are some of the most valuable to me.


Anyone interested in productivity has looked for the perfect GTD software. Of course, finding it and using it are two different things. A lot of them were too complex for me and didn’t provide an easy enough way to create new tasks.

Enter Producteev.

It’s web based, which means I can get to it from anywhere. There’s also an iPhone app that’s pretty polished now. You can create tasks by simply forwarding an email to [email protected] and you can also update them (labels, workspaces, status, etc) via email. It syncs with my Google Calendar and there’s supposed to be a dedicated Mac Desktop App coming soon.

Oh, and it’s free, which makes it waaaaaaay cheaper than the other two options I tried before it.


I try to make screencasts whenever possible to enhance our software documentation. I was using Screentoaster until it was bought out and became unsupported and unreliable. When I found Screenr, I knew I had found the perfect replacement. With Screenr, you can record from the browser in any resolution, then tweet the screencast and publish it to YouTube. There isn’t any editing or annotations that you can make, but that’s not what I need for most cases.

When I do need to make a more polished video, I always use Screenflow (and I’m an affiliate). There’s nothing better for the money.


You know what Dropbox is, right? If not, you’re missing out on the web’s best free application.

Dropbox backs up your files, syncs them to its online service, and allows you to sync them across multiple computers (including your mobile devices). It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers and also makes it easy to share files with others. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do and it does it really well.

Sync up to 2 GB of data for free, or opt for one of their premium plans. I currently pay $9.99/month for the 50 GB plan – it’s worth every penny.


Evernote is kind of like Dropbox, everyone’s using it. With web, desktop, iPhone, and iPad apps it’s both powerful and easy to access. I haven’t found a better note-taking app that has the same features as Evernote. As their website states, it helps you capture anything, access it anywhere, and find things fast. In short, remember everything.

If you’re looking to expand Evernote’s capabilities and get even more value from it, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials eBook. Brett literally “wrote the book” on Evernote and then landed a job because of it.

Text Expander

I use TextExpander to automate all kinds of frequently used phrases and snippets of text. I use it in my posts to insert HTML markup and I also use it for common text blocks in emails. The statistics that the program keeps says it’s saved me from typing over 14,000 characters. Well worth the $34.95 I spent on it.

Honorable Mention

These apps deserve some credit because I use them often and would definitely mourn their absence.

Instapaper – Makes it easy to read things later. Seamless integration with other apps makes it a winner.

Diigo – My bookmarking app of choice. The Chrome extension makes it easy to bookmark, tag, highlight, note, and share different pages on the web. Evernote does a good job of this too; I’ve bounced back and forth in recent months. I think the notion of sharing pages with highlights and personal notes is a very powerful option that could catch on later. Diigo makes that really easy to do.

HootSuite – I’ve tried every Twitter app worth trying. I always come back to HootSuite. The multi-user, multi-tab, multi-column interface is tough to beat.

Mail Chimp – MailChimp makes email campaigns easy. In fact, they power the emails that go out the VIP List for this blog. Oh, by the way, sign up for that if you haven’t already.

Reeder – I read all the time. The Mac/iPad/iPhone Reeder app is the best RSS reader I’ve found. The interface is really slick and it makes sharing things on Twitter really easy.

Think – This is an app I installed on my Macbook the other day. It lets you limit your attention to just one application by blacking out everything else. I’ve used it a lot since installing it. I’m using it while writing this post. Give it a try if you have a hard time focusing on one thing (like me). It’s free.

What about you? What tools do you use to get things done?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tim Sanchez
ABIS Consulting Group
Tim Sanchez is dedicated to promoting remarkable customer experiences through leadership and personal development.


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