While moving into my new house, I found copies of my book, “To Be or Like to Be” in a box. I want one of you to have one! Read to the bottom of the post to enter your chance to win a copy! (I’ll sign it, too.)
Once upon a time, what feels like forever ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about technology. In typical Marcella fashion, I told him about one of my favorite online tools — something I’d been using that had changed my life.
Now, he’s used it to record hundreds of new songs.
Online tools can make life so simple — and magically you can soon be doing things you never expected. Even better, they can help you achieve your dreams (like recording new hit songs) when you thought it was impossible.
Years later, I still hear comments from my friend about my Evernote recommendation. He makes comments like:
“Marcella, remember when you told me about Evernote? It changed my life. What else should I be using?”
What can I say? I’m kind of tool-nerd!
I love finding online tools to make my life easier.
There are all kinds of tools in my life. There are some that never make it past the first week. There are tools that I will use for a few months and then never look at again. But there are always a few winners that I keep around for years and years at a time — and the experience of finding one of those winners is always the same.
It goes like this:
- I hear about the new tool from a friend or a website.
- I check out their homepage and all the features.
- I sign up, download or log in and…
- Boom! A significant problem in my life (like keeping my calendar or to-do list in order) is magically dissolved.
Sparks fly, and our match is made in geek-heaven.
I want to share my winners with you because they may help you out, too. Honestly, I wish I had found them sooner.
The Winning Tools I Can’t Live Without
My preferred email client for Mac and iOS. This thing lets me check all of my email accounts in one place in the most beautiful way possible. The integration with Gmail is smooth enough that I never even feel it. It’s a paid app, but I find it worth it just for its ability to “Send and Archive” all in one click.
Swoon, I’m in email heaven.
Bonus! Sparrow won’t alert me of new emails on my iPhone. I have to ask it to refresh for anything new. This lets me focus on my tasks without getting constantly interrupted. It’s a good thing.
Staying updated on all the latest trends is super important to me. It’s also super fun to keep tabs on my favorite online personalities. I use Reeder to subscribe to my favorite websites and blogs, so the new stuff comes to me. No more clicking around the web for my favorites.
Like a dashboard for my nerdiness. Awesome!
I love to design websites and apps, but going straight into Photoshop just doesn’t work for me. I use Balsamiq to sketch out my ideas — no expertise required. Laying out what you want a website or app to look like is as simple as dragging and dropping images on the screen. I use this for playing with designs and figuring out exactly what I want without wasting time on colors or style. It’s the bomb.
(Thanks to my super-mentor, Xavier, for passing along this tool. Greatest design brainstorm tool ever.)
This is my default Twitter tool. Being that I joined Facebook a few months after it launched in 2004, I’m pretty used to using the Facebook website. Twitter, on the other hand, is a different beast. With so much going on at once, I use HootSuite to keep tabs on what is going on in the Twittersphere.
Bonus: Whenever I publish an article on another website, I put the link into Hootsuite and I follow up with everyone is tweets about it. An easy way to do reader outreach!
Do you know how useful my website would be if it was down? Not so much. I rely on my hosting company, Bluehost, to keep my blog up and at the ready for my audience. They’re extremely approachable and quick to fix any problems. I haven’t had reason to call them more than once in the past few years that I’ve been a customer. The bottom line? Bluehost rocks.
6. Focus View on Microsoft Word
Everyone likes to talk smack about Microsoft Office, but the Mac version of Word comes with an incredibly cool way to focus on writing. It blocks out all other apps and websites. All you see is your blank page and whichever background you choose. I love writing with a light brown wood as my background. It feels rustic and fun! The point of Focus View is to get everything else out of the way so you can write in peace. I highly recommend it.
This is the newest addition to my list of winning tools. It’s advertised as a way to “organize your brain” — and it has helped me do that incredibly well. It’s like a bullet list on steroids, but with very few features. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. In Workflowy, I keep track of what projects I have going on, what I need to buy at the grocery store, and what is left to do for my new house. It’s not really a to-do list tracker, but it helps organize everything that is rolling around your brain in clean lists.
And that’s it!
This is my preferred “stack” — or set of tools I use to do what I have to do every day. These are the things that are essential to being able to contribute all I have. Just to give you an idea, with these tools I am able to:
- Write thousands of words per day, for this blog, e-books, and my upcoming published book.
- Stay in touch with the amazing people I learn from online every day, no matter where they are in the world.
- Keep track of what I need to do, especially when details are easily forgotten or squandered.
- Reach my readers in effective and meaningful ways, via email, social networks, and the web.
- Organize my brain into digestible and neat little piles for perusing whenever I want.
That’s it! Congratulations on graduating from the Marcella Academy’s Class of Awesomest Tools Ever!
You are now ready to simplify your life and your tasks with super fun online tools.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
To enter your chance to win a signed copy of my book “To Be or Like to Be”, leave a comment below with this:
What is a tool that makes your life easier and how do you recommend we use it? Let’s learn from each other. Anything goes!
You have until Sunday October 21st at 11:59PM. Comment away!