5 of my best productivity tools (that will also change your life)


That was the sound of me banging my head against the desk before I started using these tools.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re constantly working, but never really getting ahead? For a long time, I struggled with managing my productivity because I was always working against myself. I didn’t have the right tools, so every task was taking 2-3 times longer than it should have.

These are my best productivity tools and apps, albeit geeky, have saved me a lot of headaches (no more head-to-desk trauma) and generally sped up my daily processes. You might find they are just what you need, too.

1. Pages

I don’t know about you, but I LOATHE Microsoft Word.

PagesFirst of all, when it comes to formatting, it NEVER does what I want it to. In addition, I don’t think I’ve ever had a non-“critical” update needed every time I open the program.

Pages (only available for Apple — PC users, I need to talk to you separately about that) allows for simple formatting, converts easily to any other file format you need, and is great for making documents “pretty” to save as PDFs. Pages is the best alternative to Microsoft Word, and the best word processing tool I’ve used, therefore one of the best productivity tools for your daily work.

2. Markdown

Most of the time I just need a plain text editor—which is why I love Markdown. It’s clean, displays beautifully, and is way faster than Word. I write almost all of my articles in it because it’s simple and formatting doesn’t get screwed up. Here are a few other of our best writing tools we love. Did I mention I hate Word?

Notice the funky symbols? Well that leads me to…

3. Markdown QuickTags Plugin

The Markdown QuickTags Plugin is one of my favorite productivity tools. Often times when you write a blog post in Word or another writing program, when you go to copy and paste it in, the formatting gets all weird. The HTML? Even worse. So Brad and I have been both writing in Markdown language for blog posts.

You might be wondering what that is — click here for more info — but it’s really simple, and there’s a plugin that converts your markdown posts (when you copy and paste) and renders it into HTML. You guys, it’s beautiful. I spend way less time formatting in result, which means I can get more done.

So how does it work? You just throw in the markdown text, and click “render” and it’ll convert it to HTML. Done. Yay! Magnifico.

4. LastPass

I honestly have over a hundred accounts between work and my personal accounts. Keeping track of all those passwords is a living nightmare, especially because I safeguard my accounts with unique passwords every time.

For work, I sometimes need to access Brad’s personal LinkedIn (for example), but I don’t need to know his personal password. LastPass allows you to save logins to any website, and you can give another person permission to see the password (or not), but it still lets them log in. It’s amazing.

There’s a browser extension so you can login and easily enter in a password for a site you have saved in LastPass. Go to the site you want to login to, then click the browser extension, and it’ll fill it in (or you can do it by going to your Last Pass account and clicking the site you want to login to, and it’ll do it automagically.) It’s safe and secure, and you only need to remember one password (the one for LastPass), and that’s it! Sharing passwords to your team is super easy which is the best.

4. Evernote

I have been boasting about Evernote for years. It’s how I stay organized with work and my personal life. I don’t know what I’d do with out it. Actually, I do. I’d be carrying around dozens of notebooks with all the information I’ve saved and needed to know at any given moment. I have notebooks for EnMast, Anchor Advisors, and all my clients where I keep track of work and business info. Then on my personal end, I have Recipes, Band Stuff, My Toolbox, and Music, among others.

5. Adblock

This is one of my favorite productivity tools of ALL TIME. I never see ads on websites anymore. (Say what?) Yes, I never see ads online anymore. This extension in your web browser blocks ads on the page and clears so much annoying ad clutter. There are some websites that require you to turn it off sometimes to use the site, but I’ve only run into a few of them. Ads that are embedded in a site will still show, but it kills about 90% of all online ads. Perfect!

Adblock Off (how you would normally see this page)

Adblock On (a Google search with NO ads)

Less page clutter = focusing more on the thing you went to do in the first place!

These are just a few of my best productivity tools. They make me work more efficiently, and eliminate the noise that was distracting my workflow. I bet if you implemented just one, you’d notice a difference. I challenge you to give one or more a try!

We want to hear your best productivity tools, too. What would you add to this list?






Photo credit:

Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Alina Vrabie says:

    I can’t even remember life before AdBlock.

  2. This is really awesome and informative, Devan! I can’t wait to try these out.

    • Thanks, Emma! Get AdBlock first for sure. I also think you’ll find writing in Markdown super helpful with that plugin. It’s a weird transition to move to at first, but it literally saves so much time for editing and loading up blog posts.

  3. Very useful list, another great one I suggest you guys is Sunrise calendar, well design app to manage your appointments. 😉

  4. Peter Modrák says:

    Really great article 🙂 But maybe be little more careful about LastPass. Here is the reason: http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/11/lastpass-finds-security-holes-in-its-online-password-manager-doesnt-think-anyone-exploited-them/ . I used it too and it’s a great tool but currently I am using Sticky password manager (www.stickypassword.com) and it’s more secure because you don’t have to put all your passwords to cloud (or maybe I am little bit paranoid and I should care about more important stuff :D).

    • Thanks, Peter! I heard there was a some security issues in the past, so I don’t put personal important passwords on there. But! I would actually be more afraid about having passwords stored locally on my devices in case I lost my iPhone, Mac, etc. (But that’s just me ;))

  5. Meanu Normia says:

    Adblock is my favourite app, M using it from last 2 years and worked great for me. Another app which I use proofhub for organizing my projects and clients. Remote team working made easy. Thanks Devan for sharing!

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