Productivity Products That Make Perfect Holiday Gifts

If you're looking for holiday gift ideas for the productivity geek in your life, look no further! In this episode, Get-It-Done Guy Stever Robbins reviews his current lineup of favorite products.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #432

Desktop Apps I Can't Live Without

I spend 99% of my time evaluating productivity tools so in the remaining 1% of my time, I can accomplish 80% of what I would have done had I been working on everything for 100% of the time in the first place. 

As long as we’re still living in the pre-apocalyptic dystopian reality, most of my work is done on my desktop computer. It’s a Mac. An iMac. As IBM recently reported, despite the higher up-front costs, Mac computers are cheaper to own in the long run. Since my life is lived in front of a computer, my desktop apps are a huge driver of my productivity. 

Focus. I can’t even begin to think about being productive without Focus from HeyFocus.com. It blocks social media sites, certain news sites, YouTube, Netflix, and anything that might conceivably distract me. Even though it can be disabled if necessary, clicking on a link and having my browser go blank is enough of an interruption that my forebrain can take over again and return me to whatever I was doing. For times when temptation is too great, Hardcore mode blocks sites in a way that can’t be turned off until your timer is up.

On iOS, I get the same functionality using the app Blacklist. It lets me blacklist sites, so I stay focused. Unlike Focus, however, Blacklist can be turned off.

Once I’m focusing, it’s time to write! My writing tool of choice is IA Writer. I’ve used it for years. It gives a distraction-free interface and supports Markdown formatting. There’s a version for the desktop and an iOS version, and they communicate seamlessly through iCloud.

Yoink. Yes, Yoink. Y-o-i-n-k. It’s a really cool utility that lets you start to drag and drop something, but you drop it into a little dock that stays at the edge of the screen. Then you navigate to where you want to drop it, and you pull it out of the dock and drop or copy the something. Yoink can drag and drop files, images, browser links, etc. 

Alfred. Alfred is an application launcher, file finder, contact looker-upper, clipboard history, and remote control program for Mac OS X. It’s fantastic and is at the center of my workflow for just about everything. When I want to find and open a file that I was working on, Alfred is there. Look up a contact? Alfred. Search the web for information? Alfred. Alfred has been my constant companion since it was in beta, many years ago. 

Paste. Even though Alfred has a clipboard history as one of its many features, I also use a second clipboard history, Paste. The reason is really just the user experience. Paste allows me to see thumbnails of my clipboard history in a beautiful, easy-to-scan format. 

1Password. If you don’t use a password manager, you should definitely start. 1Password stores all of your passwords strongly encrypted, and will generate secure passwords for new sites you register for. 

Path Finder Path finder is a replacement for the standard finder file browser. With Path Finder, you can have multiple panes open at once, which makes it easy to drag-and-drop between different locations. 

Path Finder also adds all the functionality the Finder should have had: a better way to tag files, the ability to compare and synchronize directories, a much more detailed file information dialog box, and more. I’m still discovering features after using it for several years. 

Better Touch Tool. With all the new input gizmos and gadgets available, BTT is the master control center that lets you customize input to your heart’s content. It lets you define new gestures and combinations of gestures and assign them to different functionality. So a three-finger tap on my Magic Mouse automatically launches Mission Control, and a pinch out reveals the desktop, just the way a trackpad would work.

Better Touch Tools can also pair with the iOS application BTT Remote. BTT Remote lets you turn your iPhone into a remote controller that can launch applications, choose menu items for running apps, enter keyboard text, and act as a mouse pointer. Like Alfred, BTT is at the center of much of my workflow.

Marked 2. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I’m a huge fan of Markdown for composing formatted text. Marked 2 is a Markdown previewer that uses the cutting edge version of Markdown. Every Get-it-Done Guy episode is composed in iA Writer, then Marked 2 previews it. I cut and paste the preview into our content management system for the blog, and then print it out formatted as our script. I love love love love love Marked 2.

And thus we come to the end of my product roundup for today. If you want links to any of the programs mentioned, just visit getitdoneguy.com/products. Black Friday is on its way, so it’s a perfect time to grab your loved ones (or yourself) tools, BigSkinny wallets, or SCOTTeVESTs so they can be the super, uber, amazing geek they’ve always dreamed of being.

This is Stever Robbins. Follow Get-It-Done Guy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people have Extraordinary Lives and extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com

Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.