Photo credit: Katya Nicholas
Dorie’s Resource Guide for Entrepreneurial Professionals:
The Apps, Productivity Tools, Products & Services I Use
Hi there! Like you, I work a lot – traveling to give speeches, blogging, consulting, coaching, and more. As a result, I’m often asked about the tools I use to stay productive. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an entrepreneurial professional working inside a company, it’s important to make your work time count, so you can get important things done and enjoy life even more. This is a collection of my absolute favorites – the products and tools I swear by on the road and when I’m working at home. Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that I’ll get a small commission if you order them. Every product is one that I use regularly. I hope you enjoy.
This Scheduling App: ScheduleOnce. Something else that took up an enormous amount of time for me was scheduling meetings and phone calls. There could be half a dozen back-and-forth exchanges before you found a time that worked for everyone (“Tuesday? No? How about Wednesday? No? Next Friday? OK, noon? No? How about 3?"). ScheduleOnce, which is a paid service but has a 14-day free trial, allows you to send someone an online link to your schedule and they can look it up, find a time that also works for them, and then arrange the booking themselves electronically. (Crucially, it’s easy to book across multiple time zones.) You receive the calendar notification, which Sunrise swoops up into its system. Magic! I love it so much. I’ve tried a couple of scheduling options, and this one is by far the best I’ve used.
This Lifehack to Avoid Backaches: Racquetballs. I love racquet sports, so I always had some tennis balls or racquetballs around the house. Imagine my surprise when I visited a physical therapist that shared this awesome lifehack with me: Stand against a wall with a racquetball positioned wherever you have a knot in your back. Press backward and move up and down for an incredibly effective and inexpensive massage. I now carry a racquetball in my carry-on bag, because too much flying will almost inevitably given me a backache. If you’re hurting and a visit to the spa is not in the cards, this is a really good fallback option.
This Way to Avoid Headaches: SodaStream. On the road, the peril is backaches from cramped airplanes. At home or in the office, it’s headaches from forgetting to drink enough water. For years, I had frequent headaches – sometimes quite bad – before I figured out I was just being an idiot. Now I drink several liters a day and feel fantastic. But regular water always seemed a little sad, and a little boring to me. As a kid, I used to drink way too much Coca-Cola, and my love of carbonation has lingered. That’s why SodaStream has been a blessing in my life. It actually makes drinking water feel as enjoyable as drinking soda, and with zero calories. Seriously, the best way to double your productivity is to actually feel healthy and not be crippled by headaches.
This Way to Grow Your Email List: Sumo. If you have a website, you need this tool – period. It’s free and amazing. Sumo helps you grow your email list by allowing you to set up non-obtrusive pop-ups on your website (you can schedule them to pop up at intervals that won’t annoy people, such as when they’re about to leave your page) and enabling you to customize them in a really nice way. They dramatically increased my email signup rate, and if you choose to upgrade to a paid version, you can even do A/B testing to get really precise about what will increase your conversion rate. It’s also ridiculously easy to install. They claim it takes 37 seconds and I honestly didn’t believe them. But it’s true! I’ve never studied web design or programming but was able to do it myself and get it working immediately. A great tool.
This Way to Stay in Touch with Your Clients and Prospective Clients: ConvertKit. Over the years, I’ve used three different email newsletter tools, and I think ConvertKit is the best. It’s easy to use – you can pick it up almost immediately – and allows you to tag and segment your audience seamlessly, so you’re ensuring people only get the messages that are relevant and interesting to them. That means they’re far more likely to stay on your list, rather than unsubscribing, and it allows you to build long-term, trusting relationships.
This Travel App: TripIt. If you travel a lot (or even a little), it can be confusing to organize all the details. Which airline was it again? Which hotel? Which car rental service? Solve your problem by using TripIt, which is available for free (which I used for a long time) or you can upgrade to TripIt Pro, which I finally bit the bullet on because I love the service so much. Whenever you receive a travel confirmation, just forward it along to TripIt, which will organize it neatly in one place. Whenever you need a pesky piece of information (what was that airline confirmation code again?), just look it up in the TripIt app.
This Essay: Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule by Paul Graham. Silicon Valley legend Paul Graham has the smartest take I’ve seen about how to focus amidst all the distractions of modern life and get real, meaningful work done. I use these principles to shape my schedule every week.
This Professional Development Tool: CreativeLive. In the new economy, we can’t rely on our companies to handle professional development for us: we need to educate ourselves. One of the fastest, cheapest, and most interesting ways to do it is through CreativeLive, a company that offers online video instruction for ridiculously affordable prices. Generally, you can get 12+ hours of instruction from top experts for $100 or so. I’ve done a CreativeLive workshop myself, called Personal Branding for Creative Professionals, and if you’d like to spend nearly two full workdays hangin’ with me (at your convenience), that’s a really good way to do it. (The concepts we cover – how to do self-promotion the right way, how to create and share your professional narrative, etc. – apply to every professional. Here’s a short clip so you get the flavor.) Even if you’ve overdosed on me, there are lots of other interesting and valuable courses you might enjoy, from design to entrepreneurship to health and wellness. It’s worth browsing around!
These Books. I read a lot. When I was a kid, I’d get ridiculously bored if my mom dragged me around doing errands – but if I had a book in my hand, I could be patient for hours. It’s no different now. I suppose I could let my mind wander or meditate, but I’d rather be reading. Here are some of my favorite business books of all time – the ones I consider classics in the field. I could read these again and again. They include: Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone; Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t; Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion; and Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. A new favorite is Guy Spier’s The Education of a Value Investor: My Transformative Quest for Wealth, Wisdom, and Enlightenment.
These Podcasts. If you’re a busy professional, you need to make good use of your time. If you’re driving, or waiting in line at airport security, or working out on a treadmill, podcasts allow you to simultaneously be learning. You can literally enjoy thousands of hours of completely free education at your convenience. For a great starting point, check out Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation, MarketingProfs’ Marketing Smarts podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show, and more. You could be learning for the rest of your life with just these. The information you can find for free online is nothing short of amazing, and I listen to podcasts every single day.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these resources. If you’d like to delve even deeper, feel free to check out the 400+ free articles on my website, or read my books Reinventing You, Stand Out, and the newest member of the family, Entrepreneurial You. Thanks and good luck.