I’m currently working on a project for work to improve employee productivity. As I was doing my research, I kept referring back to my personal tool set to optimize my workflow. So I figured I’d outline my tech stack today and share the tools that make my life easier. I’ll try to do this once a year to see how things evolve.
I use a MacBook Air as a personal computer and a Lenovo Thinkpad for work. My primary cellphone is an iPhone 6S Plus and the Honor 6+ is my secondary phone while travelling. I read on the Kindle Paperwhite and use a 4th Generation Apple TV for entertainment. I gave my iPad away recently as I wasn’t getting any use of it and will try to avoid adding a second work phone as long as I can. Even if that means I’m paying the phone bills!
The list is probably missing a few but this is my core “tech” stack I use to stay sane.
- Dropbox (Paid – Pro for $99/year) – all my files are automatically saved here and only system files/music remain exclusively on my computer. This means I avoid the need of having backups.
- Evernote (Paid – Premium for $45/year) – Basically my brain in electronic form. If something ever happens to me, this might be the closest thing to cloning me. Not kidding at all. I use it for work, personal, blogs – you name it.
- Wunderlist (Free) – I could use the lists inside Evernote but I like having a dedicated to-do app. And the completion “ding” feels awfully satisfying.
- Fantastical (Paid – One-time license for $40) – Prior to the OSX El Capitan upgrade, Apple’s native Calendar app sucked and I invested in Fantastical. Perhaps my favorite is the natural language processing ability which I desperately miss on my work laptop.
- Office 365 (Paid – $70 per year) – Yes, I pay for my software. I can’t live without Excel so that’s the primary reason for spending. That being said, Office 2016 for Mac is awfully buggy.
- Feedly (Paid – Pro for $45/year) – When Google Reader announced it was shutting down, Feedly became my savior. it’s how I stay up-to-date with blogs and generally the way I start/end my day.
Support services/subscriptions that augment my life. All of these are paid and there are obviously a few free ones I’m missing. Noticeably absent on this list are Netflix (I share with a friend who pays for it) and Hulu (I received an annual subscription as a birthday gift – best present ever!).
- The Information ($30 per month) – A subscription-only newsletter focused on US tech startups. Their reporting tends to be more critical than most news sites. Highly recommended if you work in tech or are interested in it.
- Kindle Unlimited ($9.99 per month) – I could probably do without this but the monthly Kindle first books make it worth the money.
- Mediahint ($3.95 per month) – I use this to bypass the Netflix/Hulu IP-blocks. It used to work perfectly but Netflix is clamping down on proxies so we’ll see how long I stick with this.
- TunnelBear ($49.99 per year) – A VPN service, which I’ll probably cancel this year since Mediahint solves my VPN needs. (Requires a VPN to access their site!)
- Amazon Prime ($99 per year) – I haven’t lived in the US for 7 years but I still love my Prime account. The Amazon Video subscription makes this worth it.
- SaneBox ($59 per year) – I use this to manage my emails and essentially it’s a smart filtering tool. I know I could do without this but it really saves me from email anxiety so worth the money.
- Spotify Premium ($9.99 per month) – Since becoming a Premium customer, I’ve hidden the default Apple music app on my iPhone. The growing Bollywood catalog makes this a win for me.
A lot of the applications and services I could do without having to pay for but these services work for me. I do tend to audit them on an annual basis and cancel what I don’t end up using.
And one more thing. I still like a paper planner at work. This doubles as my notebook to jot quick notes when I need to run into a meeting and taking a laptop seems overkill. I also especially like this planner as it has a placeholder for the date. This means no wasted pages for weekends or holidays. It’s originally a Korean brand but you can find them on Amazon.
Note: Links shared include affiliate links.