The tools I use…

(updated April 2019)
I am a productivity geek and like to be efficient.  Below is a list of tools, mostly software, I use to be more productive.  I try lots of things, keep some and retire plenty.  If you have great productivity tools you use, shoot me an email with a suggestion.

Workflowy – I work on lots of different projects.  I make a ton of lists (personal and professional) and Workflowy is the best solution I’ve found to keep me organized.  The real key is the ability to expand/collapse and nest the lists/bullets.  So, I can start at the highest level with a simple view and keep drilling down into projects, tasks, meeting summaries, action items…It works well for teams too (good sharing) and we’ve been using Workflowy at Rival IQ for years. We run all our company sprints with it too.  The combination of @name (who is working on X), hashtags for different functions (e.g. #design) and search makes it very powerful.

Rival IQ – I’m one of the founders, so I am biased.   Rival IQ best for active, digital marketers who want to compare/contrast their activities against others, like their competition or other companies they admire.  I have many collections of companies that I track, so I’m always on top of most current marketing tactics and best content. Check out some of Benchmark Studies and sample “landscapes” for many different industries.   If you want to sign up and get a discount, go here.

Calendly – Amazing way to save the overhead of scheduling meetings via email.  Once connected to Google Calendar, the service generates a shareable link ( that includes my free/busy and a way to pick a time to meet. Once booked, it generates a calendar invite for the attendees (need to do this in settings). No more back and forth in email. Really awesome, love it!

Text Expander –  Automate common responses and save tons of typing with just a few keystrokes.  My favorite “expansion” is used to schedule meetings.  When someone asks to meet me, I just type “acal” (any unique key command will work) and “You can pick a good time that works best for you here –  I have also copied my assistant, Amanda if it’s easier for you to suggest a few times that work for you.” is inserted into my mail.  A combination of Text Expander and Calendly.  Sweetness.  I have lots of other expansions for common responses or follow-up items.  TextExpander saves me hours/week.

Full Contact – “the one address book to rule them all” – automatically brings together all my contacts, removes duplicates, adds social handles/data and then syncs across sources (Gmail, mac, iPhone…).  Powerful for anyone with a big address book.  I used to be on the board here, so especially fond of the team and product.

Evernote – note taking on all platforms.  I love how it syncs between my iPhone and my Mac and I can easily “clip” stuff from the web for later review/organization.  And, I’m using the integration with Feedly too, so when I find an article I need to save, I clip it into Evernote.

Feedly – (RSS reader) – the best way I’ve found (Mac and iPhone) to gather lots of different RSS feeds together, then read and share efficiently.  I have multiple categories (marketing, health, local news…) and with the aid of Buffer, I can spend focused time reading and then my sharing queue is full.

IFTTT – a very powerful way to combine actions and automate routine functions.  For example, “every time someone signs up for my blog, send me an email”.  You can easily create powerful “recipes” for many cool things.  Another recipe I use often “when I tag something in Feedly, send an email to a list with the contents of the post” that keeps my teams informed. #automation

Buffer – allows me to post content to multiple social networks at the same time.  I have a personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and channels for Rival IQ too.  When I’m reading on my Mac or my iPhone (via Feedly), I can easily post to multiple networks with one action.   Buffer also provides a handy “scheduling” tool so I can add lots of content and it posts at my prescribed or optimal times.

Dropbox – simple file sharing between all my machines and mobile devices.

Sanebox – “automagically” move less important email from my inbox to another folder for later reading.  I like it, but the training on the filters takes a bit of time. Try it out –

Lastpass – keep all my passwords in one place.  Share sites/passwords with others without actually giving them your password.  I like the web app, desktop and iPhone apps that sync with each other.

Macbook Pro 17″ (max ram) – best machine, but considering an Air for my next machine.

Mobile apps (of note)

Tripit – awesome for planning and keeping track of travel on web and mobile.  Go “Pro” and get push alerts on changes to my itinerary.  I also create/subscribe to a Google Calendar so I can see all my travel details in my schedule.  Handy.

Pay by Phone – pay parking meters with my phone.  Gives me a reminder when the meter is running out and I can refresh in <15 seconds.  Small service fee ($0.35) applies but it’s worth it.

Running an online business (what we are using at Rival IQ now)

Intercom – awesome way to keep track of our new users and funnel.  With Full Contact integration on the back end, we get a good sense of each new users social profile and can customize how we interact with them. Also very handy for testing different kinds of messages during our free trial.  For example, “once a user has added 5 companies, send him this email” or “after 3 days of inactivity, send him this email”…Really nice UX too.

Quantified self – I’m still exploring the tools and techniques but here’s a start;

SleepTime – great for tracking my sleep patterns.  Just place under my pillow and it does the rest.  I also use this to keep track of my resting heart rate, measured when I wake up.  If/when my HR goes up by >10%, I know my body is under stress and I’m at risk of getting sick.  #restmore

Map my Run – iPhone tracking.  I use it mostly for running as my iPhone battery does not last long enough for rides.  Pretty good social integration and I’m liking the “live tracking” feature which will be cool for races and/or for Teresa to find me if she needs to pick me up at the end of long rides.

Tools I loved, but they were acquired and/or have since been shut down.

Gist – see social updates for all my contacts inside Gmail, Outlook, iPhone, Android and Blackberry (Acquired by Blackberry in 2011. Weep, I was a founder here)

Tungle – share my calendar free/busy and let other people schedule time with me (Blackberry bought them too in 2011)

ThinkFuse – super simple status reports – build your tribe (acquired by Salesforce).  You should still be thinking about status updates.

Refresh – very much like Gist for iPhone (sigh).  It integrates with my Google Calendar and creates rich social profiles (photos, background, interests, shared connections…) for my contacts before each meeting.

Restwise – helps me track my physical recovery states and when I should rest or train harder.

Zeo sleep monitor (Retired and replaced with Sleep Time)  – still getting used to this as I got it in April, but trying to get a full night when the headband stays on and my iPhone stays charged… optimistic that this will pay dividends.  Be sure to check your data on the website vs. only the phone as they have more data and suggestions there. (update) – found little use in the data and looked too weird.

Retired – Things I used to have, but don’t use anymore.

Boomerang Calendar  (Retired and replaced with Calendly) – integrated with Gmail, I can easily send potential meeting times to an email recipient.  They can see my suggested times, pick one that works, see my schedule and other open times…very handy.  And, when they choose one of the suggested times, it gets added to my calendar.  Nice job from my friend Alex Moore.

Garmin 305 GPS watch (Retired, my Fitbit is good enough)  – I use this on my biking and running.  Works pretty well and I like the heart-rate monitor.  I wish I could get the data out and into another app like Gdocs to correlate and track with other things.

Streak (Retired and replaced with – CRM built right into Gmail – powerful.  Nice UX and lets me set up multiple “boxes” for different groups of people I need to track (investors, partners, customers, influencers).  Then collects all their email and attachments in one place and lets me easily see and move people along a sales cycle.  Also has email tracking (I know when my prospect is viewing my emails) and snippets (automates repetitive messages).  I am comparing this to Yesware (Ok, but my interest is waning due to Streak, but they have better Salesforce integration) and Stride (not as clean and easy for me, but similar).

Kiss Metrics (retired, just not doing this work anymore, not sure what best solutions are in this space) – super useful reporting tools for the product.  Getting a little expensive now, but still great for knowing what is actually happening with users and the app.

Fitbit Surge (moved to Apple Watch, but not very happy with that either)- really like the real-time heart rate monitoring.  GPS enabled running/cycling watch is pretty weak but good enough.  Step tracking is fun but not overly valuable.

I still want/need a solution for…

Google calendar confirmation – Could be done in a few ways, but I like to confirm my day’s meetings and it is a pain in Google Calendar.  Want an automated solution that would prompt me, do a standard mailto with meeting details and my contact info!

Social Product Recommendation service – I want a service that helps me make this whole page, alerts me when other smart people start using new apps like the ones I have.  I am trying Best Vendor and Product Hunt, but there is no social integration or alerting.

For any of these, I am happy to collaborate on building a solution. –

4 thoughts on “The tools I use…

  1. Alden Irion

    Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Great. I am also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

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