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Blog Wise Tip 7: Use the Right Tools

You might think that, with blogging being a digital pursuit, the bloggers we interviewed for Blog Wise would be right up with the latest and greatest productivity gadgets, philosophies, and software.

They’re not.

Physical tools

Interestingly, almost every one of the bloggers we spoke with relies on physical productivity tools to some degree—pen and paper, wall calendars, and whiteboards.

“I actually have to have something visual to look at deadlines on a calendar,” says Amy Porterfield. “So what I have is on my wall in my office I actually have a yearly calendar, but it’s month by month, and I’ll put my deadlines in there.”

It seems that for many of us, there’s a sort of psychological benefit in having our to do list, for example, at our elbows, and separate from the computer in front of us.


In terms of digital tools, these bloggers stuck with the mainstream software options: Google Apps like Calendars and Docs, Basecamp, and Evernote.

“I write whenever ideas come to mind,” Jeff Goins comments. “I use Evernote a lot, whether it’s on my phone or on my laptop, and I’ll just write some ideas down or a quote or whatever, and a lot of that turns into articles later.”

Many bloggers simply used the apps that came with their computers—iCal, Notepad, or Word, for example.

“I use a lot of text documents,” Darren problogger.net reveals. “I have about ten open on my computer at the moment. They’re just plain text documents, and that’s where I put my to-do lists and half-written posts and that kind of thing.”

Email, clearly, plays a massive role in productive communications between bloggers and their teams; Skype does too, but to a lesser degree.


Though it wasn’t talked about in detail, the interviews conveyed the impression that smartphones have been a boon for most pro bloggers’ productivity.

As a storeplace for diary and appointment information, email access tool, alarm, and cache of contact details, the smartphone’s invaluable. It also makes working on the go achievable even in locations that don’t have wifi—and at times when you’re nowhere near your computer (or, for that matter, a notepad).

In particular, bloggers with families relied heavily on their phones. Heather Armstrong uses Google calendars on her phone. “I can make a change, my husband can make a change, and it immediately updates on my phone so that I know what to be prepared for the rest of the day.”

In his interview, Darren revealed, “My wife, she’s out for a walk at the moment—I texted her and said, “Please don’t let the boys in my room. I’m doing an interview now.’” Communication, he says, is critical to his productivity.

The other piece of hardware that got the thumbs-up? The tablet PC. “If anything pops into my head I have a tablet next to me [where] I just write it down so that I can forget about it in that moment and stay focused,” Amy explained.

What’s your favorite productivity tool? Let us know in the comments. And if you’ve downloaded your copy of Blog Wise and you’d like to share your thoughts on it, we’d love to hear them, too!

About Georgina Laidlaw
Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  1. You overlooked one major tool.

    Music (and scotch). I know that at least for myself, I need to have my “inspirational” music and playing and a glass of scotch so that I can get the cogs turning in my head to start writing some good content.

    • Georgina Laidlaw says: 03/02/2012 at 7:26 am

      Justin, none of the bloggers I interviewed mentioned this combination … but I find it handy too ;)

  2. I’ve had times were I have wasted so much time and effort looking for the “right” online tools only to often find myself back with a good old pencil and paper for capture. I have found that works best for taking quick notes and then later I move that into a system (evernote) and organize a bit. If I don’t have paper I’ll sometimes skip it and go straight to evernote but I often forget things by the time I open the app and type it in. Writing is 2nd nature and I don’t have to think about it.

    I also LOVE my whiteboards and use them when I’m trying to work through something.

  3. I have numerous tools that help me to be more productive but my top ones would have to be:
    Mindnode (Pro)

    The last two I use for planning out big projects – especially big writing projects. Evernote is where I draft all my blog posts and I pay for the premium service so I can access notebooks offline on my iPhone and iPad, Wunderlist is where I keep running lists – e.g. post ideas, and Toodledo is where I manage everything I have to do (and by everything I really mean everything, I even include brushing my teeth so I can start my day by ticking off tasks, kind of silly in some ways but it helps with motivation).

  4. I always find a pen and pad to be helpful.

    Siri has helped me a lot with note taking and reminders when an idea pops into my head that I do not want to forget.

  5. Interesting post, Georgina.

    Most of those methods(tools) being used sound about right, when you think about it.

    Okay, given many people would simply open up a new blog, and type away, I think far more people would do some brainstorming or outlining post ideas on the more standard programs.

    I have tried many different methods, from scribbling down ideas on a pad(or A4 sheets) typing out posts ideas(roughly then edit—and polish) on either word or works.

    I have a bunch of Screen writing programs that can also be used for different tasks.

    I have tried ever note, and a few other tools for either doing full scale writing or just to jot down ideas.

    It is important to find the right technique(method) and the right tools to match this.

    Oh, and why not do a post on some of the more tech side tools, that are being used by those people being interviewed : such as Analytics, keyword research, etc.

  6. My favorite productivity tool is the very, very old school pen and paper. Yes, indeed. ; )

    For some reason, and maybe it’s because between my own blogs and doing client work, I’m in front of the computer for 10 or more hours a day most days, but just stepping away from the computer and brainstorming and actually writing things down on a legal pad has been a huge productivity booster for me lately.

    For example, yesterday I actually moved my laptop out of my vision, into another room entirely, so I wouldn’t get sucked in to the oh-so-hynotic Interwebs, then sat at my desk — wow, so THAT’S what it looks like with no computer on it! — and brainstormed a list of 27 things I could do right away to increase my income in the month of March. The ideas just seemed to flow. Very useful!

    I don’t remember where I read this, but apparently your brain works differently when you’re making a list with pen and paper in a way it doesn’t when you’re doing it digitally. Works for me! : )

    • I agree with you Kimberly, I find that I am much more creative when I use plan old pen and paper. The other tools can be great but its really too much noise for me.

      • That’s exactly it, Carol — noise! I am a little to prone to getting caught up in Internet “noise,” then 3 hours pass and I haven’t gotten a darn thing done! ; )

    • I am with Kimberly and Carol on this too. I have a notebook I use to plan, make mindmaps and those sexy little lists. This really works for me. I’ve tried Google Calendars but I can’t seem to wrap my mind around it.

  7. Hello Georgina Darling,
    Gadgets smadgets… Knowing that there are many tools to help, it sometimes complicates what is really quite simple… putting words to paper. Cups Up! xoxo

  8. Yes take notes is so important … Sometimes we have ideas and if we don’t write them somewhere, they dispears, sometimes forever. Always takes notes, by Night, by day !

  9. This is a great post.. :)

    My productivity tool is my smart phone which makes things handy and cool :)

  10. I highly recommend keeping a business journal where you write down any tips, strategies and ideas that you can use in your business. I am in the process of putting together a free report on some of the best web business and internet marketing research I have uncovered the past few years. Just this past week I started going through a 2009 business journal and I was blown away at the great content in that thing. Some of this content will be posted to my blog and some will go in the free report. And some will go in both.

    But the point is this: If you discover anything that has value . . . “Write It Down!”

  11. Of course, Google Keyword tool is one of my faves. However, I find that my mind is the best tool there is when it comes to blogging. Sometimes it lets me down and goes off on holidays. Sometimes it takes a sick leave, but I can’t sack it so I just have to deal with that. :-)

  12. Personally, I find Workflowy invaluable. It keeps all of my to-do lists nice and neat in one place that I can access wherever I have internet access.

  13. My favorite productivity tools, all equally important for different reasons are: 1.) Paper calendar for creating my blog plan; 2.) Samsung Galaxy Tab for keeping me mobile and still productive; 3.) Laptop for heavy writing; 4.) Paper “To do” list keeps me on track with daily tasks. 5.) Programs like Word, WordPress, Evernote & Astrid compliment the other tools I use. Being organized is at the top of my list. when I am organized, I feel more creative and free. The number one priority of these tools is to keep me organized.

  14. I always carry a pocket notebook and a pen to write my thoughts in it. And my mobile helps me to scheduled it, polish it and do lots of other interesting things which makes me more productive.

    The sad thing is i’ve each stuff which is mention in this article except tablet :(.. but planning to buy it soon…

  15. I tend to use a pen and a pad to help me with the things that I need to remember. I personally find using computer/phone/other electronic reminders to be a bit of a pain for my writing process. I guess that is just me though.

  16. Yeah I tend to use a pen and pad to remember things too like Mike. I find that when I physically write something down I have a better chance of remembering it.

  17. I also have to have a calendar of deadlines and “To Do’s”. Also, regardless of the fact that I am extremely picky about having a clear workspace in my office, I love post-it notes! I love finishing up all of the tasks written on one, crumpling it up, and tossing it into the trash. Feels good, man.

  18. Completely agree about using low-fi tools. I had my spiral bound notebook out today, sketching out the proposed template for my new blog. Also love Evernote, can quickly tap something out on my BlackBerry when I get inspiration.

  19. For hardware I rely on my BlackBerry phone and tablet, and for software its all Google, Docs, Calendar, Reader and Gmail of course.

  20. For implementing GTD you can use this this application:


    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  21. simply wonderful and thought provoking idea. We are the most wonderful tool. Otherwise i was expecting some sort of software will be there., software are only our assistant not our masters and most of the time new bloggers spend lots of time in search of a perfect tool. Let me remind them” Every tool is as intelligent as it’s user.”

  22. Seems like no one uses the good old Live writer.

    Are there any other blogging tool that anyone uses to create posts on the fly.

    I’m going to try and use Darren’s advise of using text documents in notepadd++. However, I’m still searching for an answer as to which tool to use to create the actual post. Using the the admin section is the best option or are there any other tools that are used?

    Thank you for sharing the information

  23. I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it, and I have your bookmark to check out new stuff you post.

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