Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by Stephanie
When I sat down to write this post, I legit just thought through my day and what I use. In doing so I realized something very interesting about myself… I have a lot of stuff that I don’t really use. No, seriously, I have so much stuff, but when I think about it, I use these few things all day long. When I’m talking about productivity tools, I’m talking about the things I use every day to get stuff done! Yes, there are various things that are specific to certain tasks, but I pretty much stick with these.
This led me to another realization from me to you. Spare no expense on the things that will help you get crap done. If they work for you, they work. This can really be generalized into these main components:
- An awesome computer (laptop or desktop)
- A smartphone you love.
- If you’re into digital planning and notebooks – a tablet and stylus you love.
- Digital notebooks and planners that work for you.
- Physical notebooks and planners that work for you.
- Analog Tools that make you want to work!
Read on to see my specific productivity tools.
Apparently, I Have an Apple Obsession
Hear me out if you are not an Apple convert because some might flip out when they see all my Apple tools. I used to be a hard-core PC person. I bought a new Toshiba laptop every couple of years and laughed at those silly Apple people. Then I was getting my second Masters in Educational Technology. We were in this one class about creating a digital curriculum and our professor was this nice lady who walked us through things. As she was teaching us how to create certain things I noticed that when she showed what to do on the PC there were about 10 steps, but on a Mac, there were like 3. This theme continued for every piece of content we were required to create.
I bit the bullet and got my first Mac a few weeks into the class, and I’ve never looked back. When I say to get an awesome computer and a smartphone that you love, I mean it. Get something that helps you work smarter, not harder. Pay the money to get extra memory for speed, pay the money to get something that you know you will love. Read reviews and talk to friends that do what you do for a living. Since I’m a techy person, I’m often a go-to person for friends who want help picking a computer. I am a teacher and I also create digital tools and content. The computer I need is different from my friend’s mom who only uses the internet and word processing software. Talk to people who do what you do before getting the computer of your dreams!
My Personal Devices – The Powerhouse Productivity Tools
As mentioned above, I’m obsessed with Apple, so I use a MacBook Pro, iPad Pro 12”, iPhone 13Pro, and Apple Pencil. The most important of all of these is my MacBook Pro. Your computer is at the top of the list for productivity tools. Having a machine that does exactly what you need when you need it, is super important.
If you are not into digital planning or like to write out things digitally, you can skip the iPad or tablet. For me, it is absolutely necessary and I love my 12.9” iPad Pro. I did not have a huge screen iPad until a couple of months ago. This is another device that used to always travel with me back and forth to school. I use it with my digital notebooks at school on a regular basis! I LOVE my iPad.
Then, one day, this happened:
I was running around school grading kiddos for report cards and dropped it. Of course, I dropped it face down on the transition between the bathroom cement floor and the carpet. If I hadn’t had a screen protector on it, there would have been a hot mess of glass shards in our Kindergarten bathroom. No joke, that evening, I walked into Best Buy and bought a new iPad. I use it so much and it is such a vital part of my daily routine that I couldn’t live without it for even a day!
Also, if you have the Apple Pencil with your iPad, you will understand this… do not waste time on other look-alike styluses. Save your money and just buy it. I wasted a LOT of money on fake Apple pencils. Planning on doing a lot of writing on your iPad? Spend the money and get it. You won’t regret it.
Those are my main three devices that are consistently used throughout the day.
Digital Planners and Notebooks
I’m a fan of digital notebooks and digital planners. If you’ve been around the blog and site at all, you know this. I personally use both physical and digital planners and notebooks daily. While I’m writing this post, I have my iPad next to me open to my Digital Passion Planner. I’ve got my paper Big Happy Planner and my Paper Happy Planner Notebook next to me as well.
You do not have to pick one or the other. You can happily switch between the two and not waste any productivity. If you want to learn more about digital vs. traditional read my post about the pros and cons of both here.
As far as my digital planner, right now I’m using the Digital Passion Planner Weekly that is put out by The Passion Planner. I like the setup of this one and think I might purchase it again when I need a new one. I got the undated version, but I’m thinking the dated version will work better for me next time around.
For digital notebooks, I’ve got a lot going on right now. The great thing about being a creator of digital products is that when I want something specific, I can just create it for myself. Here are some fun color sets of digital notebooks for purchase in my shop right now.
If you aren’t there yet and want to try one out, click on the image below to get access to my freebie page where you can download this free one!
Physical Planners and Notebooks
I LOVE a good notebook. I know I have some fellow teachers on here, and you totally feel me on this. A new crisp-paged notebook is drool-worthy. I was super excited when I realized that Happy Planner also made notebooks! While they are a bit more expensive than a traditional journal or notebook, you can add and take away pages super easily with their disc-bound system. I also use a Big Vertical Planner from the Happy Planner for my business planner. For some reason, I wanted the physical feel for that stuff, so I went with it.
Happy Planner is also pretty affordable when you catch sales! They run sales all the time on their site, but they are also in Jo-Ann, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby. You can catch some sweet coupons from those stores as well. My favorite is grabbing old planners or notebooks on clearance and using them for things like lettering challenges and things like that!
You would all think I was crazy if I showed you the amount of pens/markers/etc. I have. I have sooooo many. My obsession with different pens never ends, and I love when I find good ones to use. I’m currently obsessed with the Uni-Ball Vision Elite, The Sharpie S-Gel, Frixion Fineliner, and the Writech Sign Brush Pens.
Right now, you might be thinking… why is this lady talking about pens as a productivity tool? When you have the right tools, you WANT to do the planning. If every time you put your pen to paper it skips around or you can’t read it… would you keep writing?
Flexibility is the Key to Productivity Tools
This may seem counter-intuitive if you read about productivity. Routines, habits, and consistency are the name of the game. You absolutely need to have routines and habits in place. You need to be consistent. This is why I love my morning routine and my weekly review so much.
If you are not using the right tools or there is something you don’t like about your tools, consistency won’t matter.
With that said, when you find something, be willing to change it after a trial period. Things like computers and tablets are big purchases. This is why I say that you should absolutely talk to others in your line of work to find out what they use and what they like or don’t like about things they use. Using a computer for a week and then taking it back isn’t going to work. Do your research before these purchases.
As far as planners, apps, pens, etc. don’t waste your time when you know something doesn’t work for you. I’ve changed the layout in my paper planner multiple times and after several different layouts, I think I’ve found one that works for me. This is the same for my digital planner. I didn’t start out with the Passion Planner. I started with a few others before deciding that this one had what I wanted and needed.
Give things a try for a couple of weeks and see how it feels. If it doesn’t work for you, sit down and reflect on what you like and don’t like about it. How can you change it to work for you? If it is a digital planner, are there templates you can add in to make it work? If it is a paper planner, can you print out something different and add that instead or cover up the part that you don’t use and turn it into something else?
Now, tell me… what are your favorite productivity tools? What can you not live without?