The Top 10 Productivity Tools For the Holidays

A collection of holiday gifts for your favorite geek who knows the value of a good productivity tool. 

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #479

productivity apps on smartphone

It’s not easy finding holiday presents for geek friends when you’re a cybernetic teenager. Thomas should know. In his first adventure trying to fit in to his school’s computer club (other than being the computer’s confidant), he’s decided to get all his human friends presents for the holidays, and asked me what my favorite tools are, hoping for some good ideas. 

He was so earnest, how could I refuse? Today I’m going to share the tools I use on a daily basis, sometimes dozens of times a day. I reached into my SCOTTeVEST and…and…

(Before we begin, to be clear, these are actually the tools I use on a day-to-day basis. I haven't been asked to promote them. I do have affiliate relationships with some of them, but I entered into those because I loved the product, not the other way around.)

1. SCOTTeVEST. Pockets galore.

My top item is a bunch of items: my clothes from SCOTTeVEST.com. These are extremely well-made clothes that are wired for everything. They have pockets galore—my travel vest has 23 pockets—engineered so from the outside, no one can tell you’re carrying your cell phone, MP3 player, earbuds, power pack, eBook reader, glasses, notebook, four pens, camera, camera SD card, full-size water bottle, paperback book, and keychain. Especially if you travel, SCOTTeVEST is the best. nerd. ware. ever!

2. 1Password. Password manager.

1Password is a password manager that is designed from the ground up for security. It generates secure passwords when signing up for websites, and then will auto-fill those passwords when visiting the sites again later. The passwords stay sync’d between your smartphone and your desktop. There are versions of 1Password for every device in existence.

It has a travel mode, which will automatically remove designated keyrings from your mobile device if you’d rather not have your passwords on the phone when crossing a border. It also has family plans, which can be configured to give your loved ones access to your keyring if the worst happens and your cape gets caught in a jet turbine while you’re flying by, waving to the passengers.

3. ScheduleOnce.com. Easy calendar scheduling.

ScheduleOnce.com is a must for anyone who schedules a lot of meetings. It connects directly to one or more online calendars. You give people a simple scheduling link. They can then book themselves directly onto your calendar at a time that works for you both. No more endless back-and-forth. You just give them the scheduling link, they visit it once, and you’re done. I don’t know how anyone can live without it.

4. ScannerPro app by Readdle. Document scanning.

ScannerPro is an iPhone app that lets you take pictures of documents, correct for perspective or distortion, turn them into black and white, and then save them as images or PDFs. It can password-protect the PDF and has a very attractive interface for organizing your documents. Scanner programs in general have revolutionized receipt handling, and Scanner Pro is one of the best I’ve tried. And I’ve tried a lot of them.

5. Signal communicator.

Signal provides secure, end-to-end encrypted conversations that can be set to disappear after a designated amount of time. I’m not saying we’re living in a creepy, post-apocalyptic dystopian surveillance state, but just in case we are and don’t know it, Signal gives you the kind of privacy you used to have in the good old days in your living room. Before the Amazon Echo and Google Home started broadcasting every word you say to central servers where they can be subpoena’d and used to lock you up without a trial or other form of due process. Signal exists for all smartphones and desktops.


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.