I’m a sucker for all the online tools that promise to help you be more productive or creative and that can make you feel like you’ve got your s*it together. Tell me about the latest ‘can’t live without it’ app and I will try it.
Sure, often it turns out that they create more distraction than focus (happened to me with Todoist for example) but some has been real game changers.
So, without further ado, here are the 13 productivity/creativity tools that I use in my work on almost daily basis (no affiliate links, promise):
Self Control – a must. Blocks access to chosen websites so I can focus on work instead of going down the Pinterest rabbit hole. It’s simple and doesn’t have a glamorous design (although I love the skull logo) but it’s free and does the job. Only for Macs, if you’re Windows user try Freedom.
Omm Writer – my favorite writing tool. Elegant, simple, with neat functions like different keyboard and background sounds. Make a one-off payment of around $7 (they let you decide how much you want to pay) and you’re good to go.
Typing.com – I always wanted to type like a pro – fast and without looking at the keyboard. Thanks to this great free typing course, I do. Give it 10-20 minutes a day and soon you’ll be a typing master, promise. I often redo some of the lessons just because it relaxes me.
Noisli – I don’t like working in total silence but the music distracts me. Enter Noisli, background noise generator. Rain, wind, coffee shop, forest… you can mix and match so options are endless. You can also use it as a distraction-free text editor. Free!
Mind Meister – with this you can create all kinds of mind maps. It’s a perfect tool for brainstorming and creating projects, especially if you’re a visual person. A free version is limited to 3 maps, $4.99 per month gives you unlimited access.
Evernote – good old Evernote… I have a free version and it’s all I need to keep my notes, links, screenshots in one place. It syncs with an app on my phone so I have access to all that stuff whenever I need.
Last Pass – as someone who usually forgets the password literally one minute after creating it, this is a life-saving tool. Stores all my passwords and the autofill option works really well. Their site makes you think it’s minimum $3 per month but you can sign up and use it for free.
Canva – basically lets you create professional looking designs without having to complete a Ph.D. in Photoshop. Get a free version or pay $12.95 per month for more advanced features. They also have a phone app, but I think the iOS version has more functions than the Android one.
Notegraphy – neat tool to create cool looking, stylized text notes. Great to make those Insta quotes really stand out. Free.
Grammarly – fixes all my grammar mistakes, what more can you want? ;)
Momentum – I like the beautiful photos, the welcoming line (Good morning, Dominika!) and the “what is your main focus for today?” question. Free for Chrome and Firefox.
Tomighty – I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique and this is the timer I use. I tried many others and found this one to have the cleanest, most hassle-free design.
And last but not least…
Alarmy – if, like me, you’re a professional snoozer, then this app will change your life – an alarm clock that forces you to get out of bed. Just take a photo of an area in your house and set up the alarm. When it starts ringing, the only way to make it stop is to get out of bed and take a photo of that registered area. It can be a photo of a shower or a coffee machine, or if you want to go hardcore, your neighbor’s front door ;) Anything but the view from your bed of course! Free for iOS and Android.
So that’s my lucky 13! I would love to know your go-to tools that make you work faster and better. Please share!
“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault”
The President of the United Stated of America
Just like the insecure person who wrote this tweet, society dumbly associates “smart” with high IQ.
Or with good grades at school.
The problem is IQ and school tests always reward the same kind of logical and problem solving oriented intelligence.
But what about emotional intelligence and the natural talent to connect with people?
What about the incredible artistic ability to create beauty and harmony?
And what about the 6th sense type of intuition some of us have?
These incredible forms of intelligence are not always rewarded as they should.
If you are feeling a bit stuck and constrained in your current job, chances are you have some type of alternative intelligence or talents that cannot shine in the current template you are being asked to fit in.
We created a free workbook to help you assess these alternative intelligences and better understand how you could use them to live on your own terms.
When Cedric and I decided to leave London, we came across the big question – what the hell are we going to do with all our stuff? Furniture was easy; it stayed in the flat. The problems began when we started to empty those cupboards and drawers. It was like opening Pandora box.
The piles and piles of stuff we forgot we even had. Looking at dozens of bags filled with things we decided to give away, sell or throw away was overwhelming. As I was carrying my old life downstairs, bag after bag, one thought was running through my head: “We paid for all this unnecessary stuff. With money, we worked so hard to earn”.
It reminded me of something that Jose Mujica, ex-president of Uruguay said: “When you buy something you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money.”
I realized we let ourselves to be sucked into a spending spiral. The more we were earing the more things suddenly seemed absolutely necessary to have. Spending was fun; it was easy (hello, Amazon Prime). And most importantly, it worked as a stress release after a shit day.
It was only after we decided to seriously start working on making a change in our lives, that we saw clearly how fucked up our relationship with money was. How it blocked us, how it convinced us that we could never afford to live life on our own terms. Because we needed all this money, right? Exactly this amount and not a penny less, our monthly bank statements were proof of that. But the reality was that we only really needed enough to cover our non-negotiable expenses and the rest was just a frivolity. Nice to have, but not necessary.
To change our spending habits and relationship with money, in general, wasn’t easy. Living in a big city and with 24/7 access to the internet, the temptation was always there. But in the end, it was about the simple choice between what we wanted right now and what we wanted our future to look like. And how much we were willing to sacrifice to make it a reality.
One of the tricks that saved me lots of money was asking myself “Do I really, really need it?” before every purchase. Because it turned out that 90% of the time the answer was “no”.
The final step – getting rid of all those unnecessary stuff before the move felt liberating. It’s when I promised myself that I’d never again let myself fall into the “earn more to buy more” trap…
If money is there at the top of the list of the things that stop you from building the life that you want, I encourage you to have a long hard look at your spending habits and answer this question – How much of your hard work and precious time do you trade for the things you don’t really need?
And what could you do with this saved time and money instead?
I used to work with this really cool guy called Stu:
IT engineer, vegan, human rights and animal welfare activist. He also happened to be into BDSM scene. After he left the company we lost touch.
Then, maybe two years ago, a friend of mine who also knew him sent me a link to a website with a note “Look what Stu is up to!”. It was a link to a blog and an online shop that was selling… “Cruelty-free BDSM gear produced without exploiting people, animals or the environment”.
Wow, well freakin’ done Stu I thought – you’ve nailed it: you sure picked a busy market…
But by combining your skills and biggest passions, you’ve created a unique niche, your perfect offer to the world.
It reminded me of something I read once:
“Our perspective working lives are like Russian dolls. There are at least five utterly plausible career selves within each of us. We are multiple beings in vain search of singular identities.”
Nice, right? And so true.
We are complex creatures with tons of skills and life experience, and yet often when we think of a new career path…
We limit ourselves to just one identity – usually one that links to the job we currently do.
That’s why so many people struggle with finding the business idea that they feel comfortable with. And that’s why one of the first things we do in Trailblazer, is showing our students how to find, recognize and appreciate all their identities (even the ones that at the first glace don’t fit together, like BDSM and veganism for example!), and then use them to create the business that they can feel truly passionate about. One that fully uses all of their internal and external resources.
It’s not about finding the unique, nobody-has-ever-done-it business idea.
It’s about turning one that already exists into something so truly yours that it will be simply impossible for others to copy.
And you do that by gathering all the powers you have – life experience, skills, interests, values, and beliefs, and using them in your offer.
That’s how you crate your offer to the world. That’s how you get paid.
That’s how you go through life blazing your own trail.