24 Life Changing Productivity Tools: UPDATED for 2023
(They’re not all software)
Okay here’s what’s going to happen
You’re going to see all of these tools and immediately want to dive in, start downloading things, and, potentially, spend more time than you want clicking and scrolling and downloading.
“As to methods; there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”
— RALPH WALDO EMERSON
The point is to focus on what’s important, and NOT the method/tool used to get the result you want. Before you download or create new accounts or buy something, take a deep breath and ask yourself what this new tool will actually do for you.
Sometimes, the best way to conquer your tasks is to delete them — NOT to do more.
Here’s one effective way to tackle this list:
Think of ONE thing that’s killing your time right now.
Then, and only then, should you scan this list and look for a solution to that one thing. If you find it, go for it! If not, you can always come back to this later when you’re in the shower thinking; “Ah, there’s this one thing that’s just eating up my day.”
Remember that your productivity is not going to decrease because you didn’t exhaustively read this list.
But it could decrease for today if you spend time looking at stuff that’s irrelevant to your projects and try to solve ALL of your problems at once.
It’s a psychological technique called “chunking.” Basically, we just take big things and make them small things.
For example, which of these is easier to remember?
We “chunk” information all the time. It’s the only way we stay sane.
It’s the same for your tasks.
Focus on ONE thing that matters today. Master that. Then move to the next thing.
Don’t try to do everything at once.
“I’m spending too much time emailing.”
Then focus on finding an email consolidator.
“I’m wasting time trying to schedule meetings with my team.”
Then focus on finding a scheduling assistant or automator tool.
24 Productivity Tools:
(Spoiler alert: some of them aren’t apps.)
In no predetermined order.
1. Reject All Cookies — A new Brave Browser feature.
Most people use Google Chrome as their default web browser. What they likely don’t know is that roughly 50% of the power used by Chrome is for running advertising surveillance on you, the user. Gulp.
Enter Brave, a browser that is built on Chromium, which means that it’s basically Chrome but with a commitment to privacy. No ad surveillance. Plus, Brave recently introduced the “Reject All Cookies” feature.
Modern day interactions with websites go something like this:
1. Launch website.
2. Close 15%-off offer popup.
3. Close “subscribe now” popup.
4. Click into cookie settings.
5. Reject all cookies.
6. Accept only mandatory cookies.
7. Finally, go do what you came to the website to do.
Try Brave and turn on the “Reject All Cookies by default” feature.
Go to Brave.com
2. World Time Buddy — See multiple time zones at once.
Many of us started working remotely in 2020. Some of us never stopped. If you’re like me and you work in multiple time zones, try using World Time Buddy. There are other tools out there, but this one is my favorite because of how ridiculously simple the interface is.
Go to WorldTimeBuddy.com.
3. Yalla Oats — Breakfast in 3 minutes under 300 calories.
This totally new brand is based in Fishtown, Philadelphia and is focused on making healthy, fast, and ridiculously delicious oats. They have fewer than 300 calories, have 10 grams of protein, and are ready in 3 minutes. These things are a home run.
And if you don’t already know, “Yalla” translates closely to “Let’s gooo.”
Go to YallaOats.com.
4. Toggl — A straightforward time tracker that disappears to let you work.
One of the lessons employees and employers are learning as they switch to hybrid and remote work environments is that working remotely is a skill. It’s not something you’re born with and it’s not something you can just start doing perfectly.
Toggl is a time tracking tool with a simple interface that hides itself away when not in use.
One of the principles of improvement is measurement. If we measure it, it will likely improve. If you’re a freelancer or a contractor working on multiple projects, Toggl will help you keep track of where your time is going just by flipping a switch.
If you use this tool, remember to be forgiving and flexible with yourself. The goal shouldn’t be to track every second of your day — but instead to get a general sense of whether or not you’re putting in the time you think you are. That’s it.
Go to Toggl.com.
5. IfTTT — Web triggers that automate boring tasks.
6. Zapier — Automates like IfTTT, with some different software integrations.
This one is a little more business focused. Love this for transferring files between different Google Drive accounts.
7. Mural — A digital white board for highly collaborative teams.
If you’ve found yourself working remotely in a creative field, have no fear. Mural is here.
Mural is basically a giant digital whiteboard that allows you to collaborate with your team in realtime.
The interface is intuitive and smooth. This tool is high-quality and here to stay for teams that need to jam together on a regular basis.
Here’s a teaser of a Mural board I made recently.
Go to Mural.co.
8. Anker 747 Charger (GaNPrime 150W) — Charge multiple high-draw devices at once.
Wow. Finally, a power adapter that can handle the new 16" Macbook Pro’s wildly excessive power draw — plus your phone and headphones.
I’m super impressed with Anker’s entire GaNPrime lineup since it also seems to reduce heat and energy consumption overall.
I can’t believe that an actual physical tech product made this list, but here we are. It’s just that high-quality.
Go to Anker’s site to buy the Anker 747 Charger (GaNPrime 150W).
9. HealthTap — Quick, free answers to health questions from real doctors.
They’re generally pretty quick. You can pay for a membership if you want faster answers or personalized help.
10. LoungeBuddy —Move through any airport like you’ve been there before.
I travel a lot. Lounge Buddy lets me quickly see what airport lounges I have access to by aggregating all my perks from my airline rewards accounts as well as credit cards.
Even if you don’t have these kinds of perks, this is the best place to find airport maps when you find yourself in one of those stupid airports that doesn’t match the number of the terminal to the gate. (Ex: Gate B24 is located in Terminal 1 at ORD.)
Go to LoungeBuddy.com.
11. Airfare Watchdog— Finding cheap flights so you don’t have to.
Go to AirfareWatchdog.com.
12. Personal Finance Sheet — Get out of debt or calculate your budget.
Years ago, I found myself with a fancy college degree and a lot of debt. In fact, a few years into my career and I was stuck in high-interest credit card debt.
By the good grace of my mentors, my family, and random people on the internet, I was able to get out. This is the sheet that helped me get out of credit card debt.
Once I found myself on the other side, I fully built out the sheet to also function as a Balance Sheet and as a Cash Flow Sheet. This is the single most important tool I use in my day-to-day budgeting and financial planning outside of stocks and investments.
This is a public document. Please steal/copy/share or do whatever you wish to make it your own. For the record, this sheet also exists in a folder in the DANILO VAULT as listed below in #14.
Go to Personal Finance Sheet.
13. Personal Online Privacy Resource — Don’t be a target online.
Like it or not, your information is everywhere on the internet. That fight is lost. Just look at the endless string of hacks and breaches at LinkedIn, eBay, Marriott, Nintendo, and Zoom. Sometimes we hear about these intrusions via the website’s owners, and sometimes we don’t.
It’s best to think of online security as a bike lock: if someone really wants to get your stuff, they’re going to get it. Yes, you could go off-grid and live like a hermit, but that’s not practical. What we can do is take enough precautions that we are not easy targets and avoid major problems.
Since there’s a lot of noise out there around online privacy and security, I made this easy to read document that will walk you through the things we should all be doing to protect ourselves online.
Don’t be a target.
For the record, this document also exists in a folder in the DANILO VAULT as listed below in #14.
14. Chris Danilo’s Personal Vault of Resources
Yep. This is just a public Google Drive that I’ve been building for the last 10+ years. It has everything from academic literature to old-school sales letters for people who want to improve their copywriting skills. There’s even a spreadsheet that I built to help me get out of high-interest credit card debt when I was at the beginning of my career.
It’s all public. Steal it, share it, use it. It’s for you.
Go to chrisdanilo.com/resources.
15. Christian Baum’s Biz Resources
One of my favorite entrepreneur’s collection of useful tools for business. If you’re a small business owner, a solo-preneur, a contractor, or someone on the edge of starting their own venture, this is a library of life-savers made just for you.
16. 1Password — Store and share passwords without compromise.
I’ve used a lot of password managers over the years and this one is the best. It’s the most secure, the easiest to use, and it allows the best features for sharing passwords with team members or family.
Go to 1Password.com.
17. ToDoist — An omnipresent to-do list.
Syncs with everything, everywhere, gives great visuals of project velocity, and adds a human touch with due-date options like “due next Monday,” and “Every Monday and Tuesday until September.”
I’ve been using the free version of this tool for maybe 10 years!
Go to ToDoist.com.
18. Unsplash — Stock images that don’t suck.
Its vast, wide open resource for stock images that don’t suck.
Go to Unsplash.com.
19. Canva — Digital design for non-designers.
Possibly the single most easy to use design tool for non-designers. With an impossible amount of templates and pre-made design ideas, you can skip outsourcing for many design projects.
Canva even has resources if you want to gain some design skills as well as special pricing if you’re a teacher.
Go to Canva.com.
20. Libby — Your digital public library.
Most audio book nerds know about Audible, but if you’re like me and you’re trying to get off the Amazon drug, try Libby.
Libby is an app for your smart phone that allows you to use your public library card to “check out” audio books from your local library for free.
This is a lower-cost way to listen to audio books and you don’t end up having a huge library of audio files you’ve paid for but will never listen to again.
Go to Overdrive.com/apps/libby.
21. Wirecutter — Comprehensive consumer reviews with decisive short-lists.
Wirecutter started out as a blog for gear-heads who like buying quality products but hate the process of testing them. A few years ago, Wirecutter was acquired by The New York Times and has expanded into every consumer category you can think of.
I like that their lists span categories like “best value,” “best quality,” “best performance,” and others. They also narrow their results down to just a few winners. If you’re in the comparison market, you know that decision fatigue is real and human beings are statistically happier when we have fewer overall options to pick from.
Use this resource and you’ll keep coming back for everything from “Baby Strollers” to “Portable Steamers” to “Best Christmas Gifts Under $50.”
Go to Wirecutter.
22. Knock ‘em Dead: Secrets and Strategies
The ONLY book you should read if you’re looking for job interviews and resume building. There’s quite a bit of “rah rah, get off the couch and go do the thing” kind of language, but there are some seriously powerful gems scattered everywhere.
One powerful nugget that stuck with me was the concept of “transferrable skills.” Since thinking about this, I’ve been able to adjust my career and between industries with confidence.
Go to “Knock ’em Dead” on Amazon.
23. Gut Feelings
A straightforward, intuitive explanation of the science behind why we should listen to our gut feelings. It turns out that people with expertise in their field can trust their guts to be right most of the time.
It also turns out that when we trust our guts, we tend to be happier with out decisions — right or wrong. If we don’t trust our gut and we’re wrong regret seeps in. If we trust our gut and we’re still wrong, well at least we can adjust and move forward without regret.
Go to “Gut Feelings” on Amazon.
24. Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome
Pep talks, Celeb interviews, and 100 ways to change the world. This book is a great way to add some positive perspective and get you motivated again.
Our world is divided and the only remedy is everyday people actively looking for the good in others. This is a book we need more than ever in 2023.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s still a lot.
Take your time, implement one or two things at a time. Bookmark this article or set a reminder to come back to it a few months from now when you’re ready. Don’t try to take this all on at once. This article isn’t going anywhere and it’s free so you can come back as many times as you want.
If you liked this, you might also like:
My free, personal blog Strategic Altruism on Substack.
I write about leadership in a divided world, strategy for people who want to do good, and tactics for those who have the spirit and motivation but aren’t sure how to set up their systems.
It’s completely free and it’s just for you.
Thanks for reading!
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