Tools I Use to Get Sh*t Done.

I love websites and articles about how people work and what tools they use to create what they do. Keep in mind I wear many hats. I’m currently a full-time UI Designer, working on this blog part-time and working on freelance projects as often as I can. I also work as an admin on several Facebook groups.  So my gear and tools are all over the place, but bear with me, you might find some you’ve never thought about before.


First up is Software:

This includes apps that I use on my phone, computers, and tablet. Bonus points to me if an app is multi-platform. Many of my web services that I use also have apps, which is awesome. I use Android, iOS, Mac OS and occasionally if I’m forced to I’ll use the PCs.


Evernote: My second brain. It’s everywhere. It’s on my nexus 7, iPhone, Macbook Pro, iPad Pro, and my Chromebook*. I store everything in Evernote pertaining to my blog, freelance work, and fun projects. I also keep my fiction writing, recipes, important paperwork and so much more in Evernote. It’s always running 24/7 on at least one of my devices.


Adobe After Effects: The main tool of my animations. While I’m learning other methods of animation (hello stop motion), I’m most comfortable in After Effects. While I’m using it less and less in my full time gig, I’m addicted to making small gifs.It would be useless to me however without:


Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop: These two programs are where I create 90% of my content. Basically, if I’ve posted it on the internet, it started in one or both of these programs.


Adobe Audition: What I’m using to record the audio I’ve been recording for my future Youtube videos. Most of them are shot over head style, so I usually have to record a voice over later. And I make a lot lot of mistakes, so I use it to edit out those flubs.


Slack: An application that brings together the various teams I’m apart of. It literally saves me 100’s of emails a day.


Desktops: I might the only person who still uses these things, but I love my desktops on my Macbook. I have specific apps in each one, and have a special “clean” space for recording screencasts. Just dope.

Flinto for Mac: A rapid prototyping tool for Mac. It takes .pngs or Sketch files and allows you to do quick UI prototyping, and sends it to a viewer app on your iPhone to test in real time. 


Web Services/Sites:

I use a lot of web based services, both for fun and business.


Squarespace: *Gasp* A designer not designing their own website? Nope, I have bigger projects to tackle. Squarespace is a professional, reliable, easily customizable tool to create a professional website. It’s easy to edit, and cheap. I pay monthly, and it’s only $10. If I didn’t already have a domain, I would have bought a year at a time, where they throw in a domain for free. I love it.


Wordpress: What I use for Wondering Creative. For a more robust personalization then Squarespace, go with Wordpress for a CMS. It’s open source, has a gazillion ways to customize, and easy to start up with so many tutorials on the web. If it matters, I’m re-learning to code specifically to design Wordpress templates. That’s how much I love this software.


Hover: I love Hover! It’s a great place to buy domains. I have about 15 or so for various projects or just parked. It’s easy to use, easy to buy, and no gimmicks… EVER. They do email hosting as well, but I’ve never used that.


Toggl Timer: A time tracking website. I started using it to track my hours for freelance projects, but now I’ve used it to track time spent on my yoga practice, Wondering Creative, and other personal projects. I love the weekly reports you can get. I never have to wonder when or how I spent my time. Bonus! It has an iPhone app.


Wave: A free accounting software. I use this to create invoices to send out to clients. I was using a paid app, but I switched to Wave because it’s free yah’ll. As someone just starting out in the making my own money thing, it’s been great to work with. It also has an iOs app.


Habitrpg: I use Habitrpg for my daily rituals (a full post coming soon) that include my yoga practice, writing goals, and simple things like to dos. I love the gamification aspect of it. It actually motivates me to open it to watch those bars change. Bonus, it also has a multi-platform app.


Alfred: I’d be lost without Alfred, end of story. When I’m working on public computers, I find my self trying my keyboard shortcut to get Alfred running. I’m running the basic, but like LastPass, may upgrade to the pro version just to support the company. I love this site. Every time I need to learn a new skill, I look to Lynda first. If I can’t learn it from Lynda, it’s not worth learning in my opinion. Lynda has an app, but I’ve never used it. I do most of my watching while on my computer.


Google Drive: I have over 200 GB of drive space, and it’s well used. I keep all of my creative work up here in the cloud.


Google Calendar: While most of my important info is kept in a paper planner, dates to remember are also kept in Google Calendar. Birthdays, parties, travel, bills, etc. are kept in Google Calendar so I can set up reminders and add things on the go. I will never remember your birthday or anniversary unless I enter in Google Calendar.


Gmail: Has been my only email provider (besides my nasty school provided one) for about seven years. I love it. I have a few Gmail accounts that all forward into one main inbox so I can sort, consume and archive everything in one place. If I get a really important email, that goes into Evernote. No printing emails in this house. No sir.


Pandora: Everyone I know uses Spotify. Me, I’m a rebel. I use Pandora. In reality, I’ve always used Pandora, and have no desire to switch from something that works. Considering most music listening is done in the background while I work, I enjoy the random selection of songs. I’d spend too much time curating playlists if I had the choice. (When I used iTunes for music, I had playlists for each month. EACH MONTH. I don’t even want to know how much time I lost curating those things.)


Lastpass: A password manager. I use the free service, although I might subscribe to the premium service simply to support the company. I love this product that much. I never have to remember passwords. Like dude, I don’t even know my Facebook password.


Social Media: I’m lame and use Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook all through their native apps and websites. They seems to always work (well, Facebook is trying to make separate apps for each of it’s features, and that’s getting old) and are supported. Sorrynotsorry.




Macbook Pro 15”:  I’m currently running a mid 2009 Macbook Pro with 8 gig ram. This thing is a dinosaur, and I know it. But it’ll have to last while I save up for that sexy new 5k iMac. With 32gig ram. With a second monitor. Yes, I know it’s a lot of money. No, I won’t go PC. Sorry.


Notebooks: I keep two notebooks with me at all times. One is a composition notebook that I use as my journal. I’m not dedicated to journalling, but I find that it helps me when I need it. The other notebook I keep with me at all times is where I plan blog posts, and notes on books I’m reading. When it’s full I’ll probably do something crazy with it like scan it all to save it… you guessed it, into Evernote.


Planners: I used to keep several planners on me. That got heavy, fast. Now I just carry two, a Bullet-Journal and that contains to-dos, random notes, and anything else I need to brain dump. I just started using a Happy Planner, and I’m loving it. It saves me time with everything laid out. I really enjoy the three sections you get per day. The Happy Planner contains my blog calendar, personal to-dos, and my future planning.


Blue Yeti USB mic: As I’m experimenting with video tutorials, I figured I’d need a decent mic. I was going to get the Blue Snowball, but when the Yeti was almost 50% off on Cyber Monday 2014, I snatched it up. I love this mic, and my only complaint is a first world problem, it’s too sensitive. It can pick up my cat purring across the room. I now have a closed door policy for recording sessions.


iPad Pro: This was given to me to use at work, and I love what it’s done to my work flow there. I can sketch things in a meeting quickly and have it thrown up in a google hangouts. No more angling a screen towards a whiteboard.


Various Drawing Utensils: My one notebook is unlined, so I can also be seen sketching into it. Most of the time my bag contains pens, a few HB pencils, a sharpener, and a few erasers.


Sketchbook: C’mon guys. I’m a designer. It’s in my nature to carry this thing. Also, I only carry books that can hold up to my pens. No bleed throughs allowed! I have a collection of sketchbooks, but my most common size is 9” by 12”.


Canon Powershot G15: This is an older camera, but it does everything I need it to do. It shoots video, hella good picture quality, and is small and lightweight. I had a DSLR, and found it way overkill for my needs.


Backpack: This usually changes every few months, but I always carry a backpack. No measly purse for me. Two straps are a must because I have a bum shoulder and need the weight distributed evenly. Right now I’m using a cheapie that I recieved as a gift.


Well if you made it this far, kudos to you, and I hope you learned about something! I’d love to hear what you guys all use to get things done! If you think I could be using a better tool or piece of software, be sure to let me know! I’m always open to suggestions!


*I pay for premium currently. Evernote basic only allows two devices. To be honest I can use it on my phone and tablet, and will probably be going to basic, where I can use those two devices and Evernote web on my laptop.


Meg Soro


ProductivityMeg Soro