Seven Tools I Use To Get Things Done

I work on the computer the majority of my day between work and my own projects at home. Over the years, I’ve picked up a wide variety of tools which I’d call my “essentials” in order to get things done and now I want to share, with you, these same tools.

Gmail (really, a lot of Google stuff)

Gmail, by far, is my most important asset. It lets me keep in contact with everyone. I think you more than understand what it does. I do use some other Google products like the Calendar and RSS reader – need to stay up on productivity and new blog posts.

I use Gmail for everything from contacts to sending files to myself. The other Google products have proved useful in my online projects as well but Gmail is at the heart of it all.

Dropbox

Dropbox, for those that don’t know, is a handy tool that lets you sync files between computers and, basically, back up files into the cloud. Dropbox has saved my ass time and time again – there’s been times when I’ve completely forgot to send over design work on “the big day” but luckily I remembered to drop it in the box right before leaving as a backup – this eventually turned into my main file that helped me from getting chewed out.

I used Dropbox for a lot of my online projects and to help stay organized – mostly with my writing (I have folders called Published, In Queue and Unfinished).

AIM/Skype

Here’s two things that are years upon years apart but have been equally important for contact. I prefer AIM over Skype any day simply because I’ve had it since the late 90’s – it’s a hard habit to break. Skype though has been fun for video and audio calls – protip: try to talk to Alex sometime, his accent will throw you off guard.

I use Aim and Skype to keep up with everyone online, it’s usually the best way to contact me – even over my phone.

TweetDeck

I’ve played around with a lot of Twitter clients but I always come back to TweetDeck – mainly because I could care less about all those other features packaged with other programs. TweetDeck is simple and lets me stay active on Twitter despite sometimes going a little overboard with too many Tweets – sorry bout that.

I use TweetDeck to aimlessly banter about technology, blogging, online business and any other stupid thing that comes to mind – I’m probably not helping my brand with this.

Evernote

Evernote is actually a recent addition to my toolbox but it’s already blown me away. This little tool is free and works a lot like Dropbox because it syncs files between computers but more along the lines of documents.

I use Evernote to keep track of my projects, ideas for new blog posts and articles and even to set future project plans – works great so I don’t forget things unlike carrying project folders on a USB stick (which I’ve lost time and time again).

Winamp

People want to use all kinds of other programs for audio but ya know, buzz off. I’ve been using Winamp longer than you’ve probably been online and it’s not going to change.

Besides streaming music from DI.FM, I use it for just about any audio I have on my computer (I’ve been digging iTunes but I hate the sync and organization features).

Notepad

Yup, I go old school with my writing – I hate all the additional formatting that gets placed into your text when you’re trying to write a post; I keep it simple and light-weight – notepad is boss (and sometimes notepad++ too).

I use notepad for everything from articles and blog posts to keeping quick ideas for projects (which eventually go into Evernote).

Eh? That’s It?

I know what you’re thinking – but Murray, you’re so busy all the time how could you not have all these tools with a million features and derp derp derp!

Look, don’t over complicate things; if you have programs that work well or if you have a long history of you using them, you don’t have to rush out and jump on the newest thing just because other people – use what works for you, what won’t slow you down and get in the way from taking action and achieving your results.

Anyway, that’s what’s in my toolbox, what’s in yours?

42 Responses to “Seven Tools I Use To Get Things Done”

  1. October 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    I use some of these tools for my blog works and your lists are good to use.
    Thanking you mate…

  2. October 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    If there’s one thing I use most… every day, multiple times per day, it’s notepad. Simplicity = good.

  3. October 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    Hey Murray,

    It turns out that in most cases the simple solutions are the ones that work the best. This article is a good proof to it. I agree on the notepad part. Although I’m not using it for articles, I make a lot of tables related to my blogging with it. Nice article mate!

    Just checked out your blog and have to say that there are a lot of interesting stuff. Keep it up! :)

    • Murray Lunn
      October 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

      Thanks Daniel,

      Glad we can be on point because it’s so jarring to see people get caught up in the technical details sometime when the easiest solution is right there in front of them.

      To share a small story, I got chewed out before because I wasn’t using this draw pad while editing pictures; it would take me about 30 minutes per picture vs. about 5 mins just using the mouse – I explained it out in detail which cleared things up but just because it’s big and flashy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best for your use.

  4. October 19, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    hahaha, yeah, my tools have kind of resided online now :P

    I think all i have is the default windows tools, firefox and office and adobe master collection installed.

    Everything i do online now or from within firefox xD

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 4:13 am #

      That’s how to do it Peter, keep em all in one place that way you never forget them or get screwed over when something messes up with your computer or laptop – nothing is more nerve wracking than going into a meeting with nothing to present – uhhh, yeah, how bout that synergy, yeahhhhhh.

      Still use a lot of offline stuff here cause I think that’s more a traditional type approach that I’m just too used to but a lot more tools are definitely shifting online. I’d like to replace notepad with Google Docs but still just kinda ehhhhhh.

  5. October 19, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    Lol, it’s interesting to know that you still use Winamp. It’s used to be my favorite MP3 player but not any more since iTunes was born :) But I find it as a great MP3 player of all times; fast to start-up, easy to control and a lot more :)

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 4:16 am #

      My main overall gripe with iTunes is that it basically dumps all the music into essentially a giant listing which really irks me because I’m one of those folder freaks:

      Music > Electronic > Psytrance > Hallucinogen > Twisted

      I think it’s part of my OCD haha – I could be wrong with iTunes, haven’t really played around with it much beyond using it for podcasts (love me some podcasts). Other than that, yeah, it’s nice and light – I’ve actually been using the same skin for about 6 or 7 years now as well haha.

      I was also playing Foobar for quite some time but just didn’t care much for the interface although it was nice that it played FLAC.

      It’s funny that here we are all internet-geeked up and it’s like, welp, gimme old school notepad to get the job done haha.

  6. Scott Bergman
    October 20, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Hi Murlu, looks like you have some great tools in your box. I too am a fan of Tweetdeck and Skype. Evernote is something I’ll have to check out, thanks for the tip about that. In terms of a quick editor I like Pico which is a simple Linux based text editor. Take care!

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 4:18 am #

      Ahhh Linux – that’s ace :D Was running Ubuntu and um, dang, can’t remember, anyway, was really fun but because work is all Windows based I couldn’t really do much in terms of trying to get people to convert haha.

      Definitely check out Evernote, the basic version is free and works really well to keep everything organized. I have a few ideas on what could improve in it but I think I’m going to save it for a program that I’d like to develop one day haha.

      Thanks for swinging by Scott :)

  7. October 20, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    Hi Murray
    I try to keep it simple too. Mainly cos I’m a real technophobe and would not be able to cope with too many apps lol
    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 4:19 am #

      I think on TWIT just the other day they were saying something like the average person has 60+ apps on their phones and maybe uses about 6 or 7. Same thing really seems to apply for the computer – all these fancy tools and it’s like, nahhhhh, I’ll just stick to something light-weight that gets the job done. Thanks for the comment Patricia!

  8. October 20, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Great list of tools. I like TweetDeck too its easy to use.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 4:21 am #

      I was checking out MarketMeTweet and HootSuite but it just felt too much for really just to send 140 characters ya know – maybe one day I’ll look back at them but it’s just like, I need to send a message to someone and I don’t want to use the Twitter site – what works? TweetDeck.

  9. October 20, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    Evernote for me is a godsend, especially with Safari on my Mac. One click and it clips the entire website for me to read offline when traveling. I don’t need to use a lot of bookmarks now for stuff I want to read later.

    Alternatively, I use Instapaper as well, so I can read websites on my mobile when I’m stuck somewhere waiting. I read books through the Kindle App but if I know I only have 5 mins, I’ll just read something quickly on Instapaper instead.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Su.pr . I’ve been using the main Twitter app now (but was using Brizzly) but for sending out updates, Su.pr has been the place to go for me. Otherwise, it’s a great list of tools (and I’ll forgive you that you use Windows!)

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 4:25 am #

      Hey now, don’t make me get into Macs and now amazing their design is, the fun interface and gah ;_; I hate you Windows 7. I would normally have light-weight XP but stupid netbook came with 7 – ah well, gets the job done.

      Anyway, lightpaper sounds really boss because I find myself on my phone more and more these days (even though I secretly hate it) having to load up sites in Opera Mobile is okay and all but it’s like – I just want the content, not to scroll around and crap.

      Actually, I use Su.pr a helluvalot whenever I’m sending out Tweets now (usually) – depends if I’m so lazy that I don’t jump over to the site haha. Actually had one of the things I shared on there get Stumbled over 100k times – wish it was my site, dammit!

  10. Susannah Maxcy
    October 20, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    You’ve got a a great list.

    I’ve been debating about Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. I can appreciate Hootsuite’s minimalist style and tweet scheduler.

    Batch photo editors like Fireworks are also rad.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      Definitely Susannah, that’s my only gripe with Tweetdeck, it doesn’t have a robust scheduler in it – the recent update has a basic one but it needs to step up a bit.

  11. October 20, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Love the tools you have posted, simple but useful.

    I use almost similar to yours, notepad, headphone, image editor, and screencasting software (wondershare).

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 11:54 am #

      Hey Kimi

      Glad you liked the list – I haven’t heard of wondershare before but I’ve used a few tools like SnagIt and Camtasia for screencasts – how would you say it adds up overall in quality and speed while recording? Looking for something in the near future that’s light-weight, would like to do more screencasts.

    • October 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      @Murlu, I won Wondershare from dragonblogger contest a few months ago, i love its simplicity.

      Though i use camtasia sometimes too, depends on what i screencast at.

      From the speed and the clearness, camtasia is better, this i admit.

      Cheers.

      • Murray Lunn
        October 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

        You can’t beat free Kimi :)

        Got to love those blog contests – look beyond just the monetary gain, some of the tools you can win are really great. Won a logo design recently and it really helped me get started launching a niche site :D

        If you ever get into outsourcing, screencasts are great because instead of trying to write out an email on what to do, you can just show it, pass it off and boom, done and done.

  12. October 20, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    hi Murray, yeah, these are all awesome tools and I use most of them (swapped TweetDeck for hootsuite recently but there is only a tiny difference between them anyway).
    Evernote is definitely the key one for me, I use it not only to store notes but also draft posts on my iphone and sync with my computers. I am not sure if I wrote a post in the last 2 months other way than by starting in evernote on the phone and editing on the laptop. Amazing stuff.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 11:56 am #

      Nice one Pawel! It’s funny because I’m right there with you with connecting up mobile for blogging – you get that spark of idea and jot it right down into the phone, come back later and write the full post, always a good feeling that a great idea didn’t get lost.

  13. October 20, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Dropbox looks cool, just signed up for an account while reading this.

    I use Gmail too, but I use it to aggregate all my emails in one place, even though that place is Outlook, it comes from Gmail…

    Adobe is one I would add, I am in PhotoShop and DreamWeaver everyday…

    • Murray Lunn
      October 20, 2010 at 11:58 am #

      I think you’ll really like Dropbox Keith, it’s been indispensable and pretty much everyone I’ve talked to that have used it has said the same. I’ve even used it on design projects that were outsources – instead of trying to upload all the files to a server I threw them in Dropbox – told them to wait a sec – and boom, they had the files.

      Ah, Photoshop – at work I use it literally every day, don’t know where I’d be without it. Thanks for sharing Keith.

  14. October 20, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    That’s a really nice list, Murray. I myself can’t work without Gmail and AIM anymore. I’ve been using these two for years now and I just can’t see myself switching to another. I use Skype from time to time, but only if I have to make Internet calls overseas. Listening to music is a must for me while I work because it drowns out the noise around me, but my music player is VLC.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

      VLC is ace! I use it mainly for video but since I don’t mess with FLAC on Winamp, I turn to VLC. Thanks for sharing the other tools you use as well Anna – simple and effective!

  15. October 21, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Nice collection there, Murray!
    I also use Skype, but i have Ymessenger installed (because that is popular in my country).
    For code and website administration I use netbeans.
    I have notepad and notepad++ and if it’s something I am coding, writing outside netbeans I will do it with those two.
    Putty, for my servers administration.
    I used to use esnips to backup my data, but after I formatted my hd i forgot to installed and now it’s history.
    I also use gmail A LOT, google web alerts, feedly (I think this is from google too).
    Maybe some other rarely used tools are residing on my computer, but that’s about it!

    • Murray Lunn
      October 21, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

      Great list of tools you’ve got there Alex :D

      One really interesting thing is that I’ve notice that it does seem very country specific as to what kind of messenger they use. I have Canadian friends where they only use Windows Messenger while everyone states side generally uses AIM.

  16. October 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    I think TweetDeck is the best also. Nice tool box! Good list of useful tools.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

      Yeahh, it’s always like, hey check out this feature and that feature in these tools – nahhh, does it let me tweet? does it shorten my links? okay, I’m good – simplicity.

  17. October 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Awesome Muzzah!!

    Thanks mate – I am a little OCD so I love this sort of stuff.
    My toolbox is a little more complicated I think, but at least it’s not pink – bitch.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 27, 2010 at 12:13 am #

      Don’t make fun of my pretty pink toolbox ;_; it matches my dress.

  18. October 27, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Hi Murray.

    This is my first visit to your blog and you are doing wonderful job here. Feel bad for missed this blog till date. Of course suggested tools are really useful for me. Looking forward more good posts from you murray.

    Good day.

    • Murray Lunn
      October 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

      Hi Thiru – thanks for swinging by; glad you enjoyed the post :)

  19. November 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    You know, you could drop a few of those and use Google Docs.

    Not sure how much storage you use on DropBox but Google Docs gives you 1GB for free and you can buy more.

    This would replace DropBox, Evernote and NotePad and be accessible from every computer you use.

    I also write all my articles and what not in Google Docs first.

    Plus, you are in GMail all day anyway.

    :)

    • Murray Lunn
      November 7, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

      That’s what I’ve been debating Rob, I really like all of Google Docs stuff but theres something about the overall formatting that sort of puts me off – I think a lot of it is organization too – I’m very OCD on how I handle my files (probably coming from music collecting background) so everything has to be right in place haha.

      Although – I think I’m going to keep it in mind for other sites and small business ventures that I want to try.

      • rob mccance
        November 7, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

        I know what you mean. It took me a long time to fully start using nearly all the tools there.

        It started innocently with using Google Docs-Document to replace the NotePad file I was trying to keep synced between all my computers. Emailing it around, cutting and pasting, what a pain.

        Then Google Docs started allowing you to upload any file type, so I started backing up a ACT! database up there as well.

        Then I started writing ALL my docs in google docs. Loved the ability to move from my ThinkPad to my MacBook PRO to my server PC and just keep on going.

        Now, I’m using Google Calendar, syncing my Blackberry and a Outlook Calendar (all for free).

        I use Adwords, Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, and maybe some other stuff. It’s all right there, from ANY computer I can get on.

        So coolio!

        • James M
          November 8, 2010 at 2:21 am #

          Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage for free. What I like about it the most is the ability to drag ‘n’ drop files into a folder and have it upload/sync in the background without me worrying about it. If I work with a file in TextEdit (on a Mac), I only have to remember to save it to that folder and the rest is taken care of for me. With Google Docs, if the file you work on is in Google Docs, it’s fine, otherwise, you have to take the time to manually upload the file to sync up. I’m sure there are tools out there that will do this seamlessly, but I can’t think of any off hand right now.

          I’ve been writing more with Evernote mainly because it’s more of a robust text editor, can clip webpages to it for future reference, it syncs perfectly with my Mac, online, Android phone, and I tag items to include with my Nozbe account (which is a task manager). I can also tag the items to find quickly or search within the text, etc.

          • Murray Lunn
            November 8, 2010 at 2:57 am #

            I’ve been a big fan of Dropbox for a while James for exactly that point – it’s great to just be able to save and it’s ready to go. My one concern though, overall, is what would happen if the other computer got a virus or wiped out and took the files with it – does Dropbox automatically stop it from being deleted because that would really suck to have it resync and destroy your files.

            Got the same feelings for Evernote – it’s quickly becoming my favorite tool for blogging now.

        • Murray Lunn
          November 8, 2010 at 2:44 am #

          It can be a real saver when it comes to business – I actually tried to get the company I work for to transfer over but old habits die hard and after about a week working with it, setting it up and everything, people just dropped out of it and switched back to the old system.

          One thing that really makes it become apparent is when you lose a file which happened not long ago when I thought I lost my USB drive – basically years of work – gone – after I finally found it I made sure to back it up online – that’s where Google Docs would really shine because certain files become absolutely essential to the lifeblood of a biz.

          Glad to see that you’re reallying making it work for your best – especially since you’re pulling in Adwords and the other Google services – smart thinking :)

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