The following resources are some of the invaluable tools and sites that I use to get through the day, a big project, or life in general. I will keep this list updated as I discover cool new stuff. This list is just an intro/overview. I will link to in-depth blog posts as I write them.
Some of the tools below might include affiliate links, which means that I get a small benefit (free service, a small commission, etc.) from that company if you sign up through my link. It never costs you anything, but rather it is a way for me to help pay for the expenses of running and maintaining this site.
These are apps I use dozens of times every day in various contexts on all of my devices. They are so ingrained in my workflows that I can’t fit them into any one category.
Like most people, I was using the same variation of 2 or 3 different passwords for everything. I knew I shouldn’t have been doing that, but there was no other option. I was wrong, 1Password and other apps like it are essential in this day and age. Every password I have is unique and as strong as each service will allow; 1Password remembers it all for me and even keeps me up-to-date on security breaches, so I am never vulnerable. I wrote a blog post about 1Password that you can find here.
I have tons of posts and videos about Drafts. It is the most straightforward app to use and, at the same time, one of the most powerful. Every person who has an Apple device should have Drafts installed.
My default mental state is that of a lazy, disorganized procrastinator. I have to work hard to trick myself into being the reliable and proactive person I want to be. These apps help me be that person.
Find all of my productivity related posts here.
Automation is one of my favorite forms of productivity. I love being above to solve the puzzle of making it work and reap the benefits of computer precision replication of tedious but essential tasks. At its core, I see automation as a way to create time for my future self.
My number one tool for automation is Keyboard Maestro. It is the most powerful and complex tool at my disposal. However, it is only on macOS and has a cognitive barrier to entry, which means it is not my first automation recommendation to someone just starting.
Hazel is another Mac-only tool, but it is an excellent solution for handling complex or tedious file/folder organization. In a slightly round about way, it also allows you to remote control your Mac.
Shortcuts is an iOS/iPadOS app made by Apple that allows you to easily create automations that run the gamut of complexity. Want your phone to go into low power mode every time your battery goes below 50%? Shortcuts can do that. Want to Create calendar entries, send emails, and create an OmniFocus project for your next meeting? Shortcuts can do that too.
After years of searching, OmniFocus is my task manager of choice. It has all the complexity and automation options I need and is also simple enough to use for basic tasks. There is a big up from cost to the app, but once you outgrow Reminders and want a powerhouse app to manage your tasks, OmniFocus is your jam.
If I have to collaborate with someone, I reach for Trello. It’s an awesome kanban based project management tool. I have also used it as the backbone of my personal productivity system (before I landed on OmniFocus). I teach it to my students for project management and use it for dissection documentation, project feedback, and ice breakers.
You might not think there is a lot of room in the calendar app world. You would be wrong! Fantastical is a beautiful and powerful calendar app. If you are looking for the best way to interact with your calendars, Fantastical is it. Fantastical wrangles and synthesizes my personal Google Calendar and my work Office 365 calendars. I can see and manipulate all of my calendars, regardless of platform, from anywhere.
Over time, content creation has gone from necessity to personal development project, hobby, and even income generator. Here are the apps and services I used to create the content you see on this site, my YouTube channel, in my classroom, and at home.
When it comes to note-taking, brainstorming, or planning, I have been an outline person for most of my life. I still use outlines a lot, but recently I have taken to mind maps. MindNode is synced on my phone, tablet, and computer; it makes beautiful mind maps and makes them easily. When I make a mind map, I reach first for MindNode.
Video is my first love of content creation. I started creating videos during my student teaching in college, took that skill to my football and track coaching positions, and eventually teaching. I even grew the skill into a boutique video protraction business, making wedding highlight and corporate videos. Today, I use this distilled experience to create YouTube videos on my personal channel, and in various professional training positions.
Final Cut Pro
Hands down Final Cut Pro X is my video editor of choice. I can quickly create any video I need. The tools built into Final Cut are powerful, easy to use, and because it is built by Apple, efficiently uses every ounce of power my computer has to process and export videos quickly. Using a professional program to edit video can be intimidating, but you can never go back once you learn.
Only in the past few years have I begun recording external audio for my videos. With this higher quality audio, I have begun learning more about audio editing, and the dramatic improvement in my videos is evident. This improvement has been motivating, and I am fully committed to going further down the rabbit hole of the audio world. Adobe Audition is the industry standard for audio editing, and I have been able to find many in-depth resources and tutorials for it online.
I started writing blog posts in June of 2015. My 100th post explains why I blog (and why I think you should too). These are the tools I use to create my blog posts.
WordPress is the CMS I use. It also powers about 40% of the internet, so I am not sure how much I can add to the conversation here. Anything as popular as WordPress will have plenty of haters, but you can’t argue with the organizational power, extensibility, and broad support of WordPress. In my mind, it is the obvious choice for supporting my blogging endeavors.
To have a website, you need to host it somewhere. Since my first website, I have used DreamHost, and I have never had reason to look elsewhere. I have run everything from a simple one-page business card site for a friend to a fully functional LMS all on DreamHost servers. I have never had a problem that they have not solved; happily, I might add. If you need to host a site, look at DreamHost.
Most of the time, I fall in that area between developer and user, known as a power user. This means I can pretty much always use any part of a program and even customize it some. That being said, I do not want to develop my own WordPress theme; I use Enfold. It provides tons of customization options and handles all of the coding so I can focus on creating and designing content.
One of the major concerns about publishing content on your own website is performance. It makes things better for your users and easier on your servers if you can create high-quality content with small files sizes. Images are the double-edged sword of a website. They help improve the visual appeal of your content but “cost” a lot in terms of file size. imageOptim helps me do a final space-saving squeeze on the image I post to my site.
I have used the free version of Grammarly for years. In addition to lots of practice and feedback from real humans, Grammarly has been a great writing companion and has helped me grow as a writer. In the fall of 2020, I signed up for their premium version, and I don’t think I will be going back.
I used Aperture for many years and was sad when Apple shut it down. However, this was a blessing in disguise. I use Lightroom to manage three different libraries and handle all of my photo editing. Lightroom has been everything I need in a photo editing app, and every photo my wife or I take goes into Lightroom.