What is in Our Productivity Tool Box

What is in our Productivity Tool Box  |  The Fresh Exchange

Owning a business for the last 5 years, Mike and I have been able to use programs through trial and error to help us be productive. Running a business as a creative is not always easy because creatives are not the best at staying organized (especially me). As you know we are big believers in doing what you love, but doing what you love still comes with tasks that are not super fun. We want to get through those tasks in a quick and smart way so we can get back to doing what we love, which is living and gathering inspiration. Thus, I thought today I would give you a list of the apps and processes we use to stay productive and get everything done.

If you are a mobile creative that is constantly changing locations or even a creative that is at an office everyday, you need to be using Evernote. As a creative team we use it everyday to communicate between each other about ideas or upcoming projects. We use it to plan editorial content, write up concepts for an up and coming brand’s social strategy, and to share our day-to-day tasks and productivity reports. The options here are endless. The best part is that you can also record conversations and meetings. You can even connect it with Feedly and other web and desktop apps. It is a brilliant thing that you can be using everyday for free.

Google Calendar:
No matter how hard we have tried other programs and calendar systems we have found this to be the best platform for us. We develop calendars specific to projects, areas of business, and individual members of our team. From there we can share them with our team and/or clients very easily. It is super awesome and simple to integrate into your mobile devices.

Though Mike and I are not money minded WHATSOEVER, we have learned quickly that we need to be smart about it. We have worked with great accountants and had amazing business savvy friends who have shown us the ropes on how to use Quickbooks. Though it has been an investment to get some training we now feel very happy with this program. We still work monthly with an accountant to help balance things out because we don’t always have the time. We are big believers in learning something but that doesn’t mean you need to do it. Our time is best spent doing what we do best so we stick to running invoices and paying employees and freelancers. Everything else is run by an accountant through Quickbooks, but that was after spending 2 years running it ourselves so we knew if something wasn’t right. It is important as a creative to find a program to manage your money so you know from where things are coming in and out. For us Quickbooks is that, plus it is free online.

Have you seen this app? I know there are a ton out there but we have been big fans of Buffer for a while. Basically, we use it to shorten our URLs and to share via all social channels. From there it helps us track how a specific post or tweet did. This is great when we run a campaign for the blog or we are working with a brand and want to help them with building the highest reach. Also, you can schedule tweets and Facebook posts at the best times for your audience based on the analytics they have gathered on when your followers are the most active.

Ever since Google Reader disappeared in to the internetverse we have all been mourning the loss of our daily read. Sure there have been a lot of great apps that have surfaced to help make our world of reading blogs possible, but none of them have reached the level of awesome as Feedly. We have been big fans of this app since it surfaced right around when Google announced that they were pulling reader. So, why is Feedly so awesome? I could go on and on, but here are just a few reasons we love it around here: ease of socializing posts (which is a huge plus to bloggers), the multiple formats of reading, the organizations, suggestions for new reads, the amazing design, and the fun and easy to use apps. We use this to help find bloggers and publishers who our brands should connect with and also to keep up on what is happening in the creative world.

Just over a year ago one of our freelance designers introduced us to this project management software. We had been using Basecamp on various projects but always felt as if it was missing something. When we began diving in to Podio we fell in love. Now we use it to collaborate with our freelance employees and current employees as well as work with those we are working on specific projects with. There are not many things I have found wrong with Podio to be honest. The ease of use is great as well as being able to customize projects with various widgets. Currently, we are using it to work with people all over the US. The best part to me is the integrated messenger system where you can have chats going on with those you are working with, thus your iMessage and Inbox are not being swamped. Also, there are mobile apps for free so even on the go you have access to the project info. Not to mention Podio is based out of downtown Raleigh at the Citrix headquarters, so we love supporting a local company.

I would love to hear from you what some of your favorite productivity apps and programs are as business owners or even what you use for your blog! There are so many out there and hearing your feedback would be great!!

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18 Responses

  1. Hi Megan,

    I just stumbled upon your website accidentally. I love your simplistic design and the blogging tips are priceless.

    Like Brianna below, I have swapped “Feedly” for pocket because of its iPad integration and seamless offline use. I didn’t know you can use tags to organize the offline content though, I bet that’s handy too.

    One amazing app that turbocharged our productivity as a start-up team is “Wunderlist” – its a monster of a to-do list with features for different types of lists, ability to collaborate, chat and assign tasks to specific members, as well as calendar integration features that none of the other reminder/to-do list apps seem to have.

    Podio sounds really interesting though. We’re shopping for project management software for our education start-up and this might be just the thing for us!

    Thanks for the entertaining read – definitely stopping by your website again!


  2. You guys don’t use Bitrix24? It’s pretty decent for being free and is basically Podio+GCal+Quickbooks in one. Redmine is another good one.

  3. These are great tips! I use Buffer, Bloglovin and Evernote and love all of them. For daily checklists, I use an iphone app called any.do. You can set reminders and recurring activities and then when you’re done cross it off the list with a swipe of the finger. I use it all the time!

  4. Ohh Quickbooks! When my husband first began freelancing full time he had been keeping track of things via spreadsheets! Ack! I love how easy it is to send invoices through Quickbooks.

  5. This is such a helpful post. I’m always looking for better ways to stay organized. I started using Evernote after you suggested it in one of your posts. I love it! I use it to store my notes and posts and it keeps everything organized and in one place. I’ve heard a lot about Buffer and Feedly and will definetly try to incorporate them both into my tool box!


  6. i love buffer! i just started using it a few weeks ago and it’s a huge game-changer. i love being able to track analytics there and the suggested tweets are really great!

  7. Yes! It’s like you read my mind. I’ve been *trying* to utilize so many programs for my little business lately + have been dying for someone to just be like, “here. these are the tools i/we use. it works for us. maybe try them for yourself!” There are so many different apps and programs out there and it makes it so confusing when you’re trying to find the most efficient ones for what you need (without all the extra crap you don’t). So thank you! 😉 I just signed up for Feedly (already LOVE it!) and Podio and am so excited to see how it helps streamline and organize everything!

  8. These are all great tools. In fact, I use all of them except Quickbooks and Podio… and I’ve been meaning to check out Buffer more.
    I swear by Evernote and Google Calendar! I love that your guys’ main thing is curating inspiration. Love love love that.

  9. Hi Megan! First of all, I’d like to mention how helpful your blog has been to me- I’ve discovered so many great apps and tips to keep myself organized when it comes to blogging. I’m also planning a trip to Spain + Portugal because you pretttty much convinced me that I need to go pronto LOL!

    Anyway, I’m a beauty blogger and do a lot of link roundups at the end of the week, but compiling my favorite links around the web has proven to be frustrating to keep track of. I use Feedly and their “save for later” component, but there are still a lot of articles I read that I don’t read on Feedly, if that makes sense. So I’ve just started using the “Pocket” app where you can be on virtually any webpage and you can save that article into your “Pocket” and read it later. They also have an iPad app where everything integrates seamlessly. I’ve found it to be really useful when doing my link roundups and whenever I want to keep an article around to read whenever I have free time. You can add tags, too, to keep everything organized. Not sure how useful this would be for you, but thought I would share anyways 🙂

    1. That’s super awesome!!!! I am going to look into it. I feel like I have heard of it, but have not tried it. Thanks so much for sharing and glad these types of posts have helped so much 🙂

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