Since I started blogging in the summer of 2012, I’ve used and tested many products and applications. By now, I finally have a solid setup of working tools that I love using every day.
Below you’ll find a list of these tools, plus a few other recommendations, ranging from lifestyle programs and travel essentials to fitness and diet resources. This is the good stuff that I keep recommending to my friends and everyone I meet.
Most links will lead you to a resource’s original website, while the 🛒 emojis bring you to the resource’s Amazon product page. Book titles are directly linked to the Amazon store.
Please note that this page is a work in progress · Last update: July 5, 2017
· Simplenote – notes app
Whenever I want to take a quick note, I use Simplenote. I also keep my list of weekly working priorities on here, which helps me stay away from my far more intimidating “complete to-do list.” I don’t use Simplenote to store any notes; the scribbles on here either get deleted or copied to OneNote.
· OneNote – digital notebook
OneNote is my go-to notebook. I keep everything in here from working goals and project ideas to book highlights and travel itineraries. It’s the most important application I have, and quite a little monster by now.
· Pages – word processor
I edit my first drafts (handwritten) in Pages, before copying and pasting the final versions to WordPress. Link-heavy articles like this one, however, I prefer to write and edit directly in WordPress.
· New American Roget’s College Thesaurus in Dictionary Form – dictionary
Roget is my best writing friend. I use him all the time to find the words that I can’t come up with.
· Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition – synonym dictionary
I regularly mix up the meaning of English words, so using a dictionary when I’m writing is indispensable. The nndle version works great with the Kindle search function and makes looking up words simple and quick. Plus, the internal links make it easy to jump from one definition to another.
· Grammarly (premium plan) – grammar checking tool
I use Grammarly to check all my writing, which includes, my blog and social media post, but also, for example, my e-mails. Grammarly always finds a few spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes that I missed or didn’t even recognize as such.
· Dropbox – cloud storage
I never store my drafts locally on my laptop. Instead, I keep them on Dropbox. Once I have a final draft though, I will move it from Dropbox, and back it up to my Amazon Drive and an external hard disk.
· Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100M II a.k.a. “Spider” – point-and-shoot camera 🛒
Spider is the only camera that I’ve used for the last 2,5 years. She’s compact, takes great pictures, and has built-in WiFi (also see FAQS > What camera do you use?).*
· Wacom Intuos Pro, Medium – pen tablet 🛒
Working in Photoshop with a pen tablet feels so much more natural than working with a mouse. It took me a couple of days to get used to it, but now I can’t imagine editing images in any other way. Even when I only have a couple of pictures to do, I’ll take out the tablet.
I found out about the Wacom tablet from Manfred Werner in his course “The Platform’s Biggest & Most Popular Photoshop Course.”
· Photo Mechanic 5 – media browser
Photo Mechanic 5 is my newest favorite application. It makes importing and organizing a batch of photos a breeze. I’ve been using it for all my recent photography works, but also to go through a crazy amount of old holiday photos.
Recommended to me by my dear friend and photographer Silvia Falcomer.
· Creative Cloud Photography Plan
Gives me access to the latest version of Photoshop, which I essentially use to retouch my wrinkles. Worth it.
· Canva – graphic design software
With Canva you can design anything from a social media post to a magazine cover and have the result looking pro in no time. I’ve used it to add text to my images (see photo below and #thespinoffproject), and even though I’m now a lot more familiar with Photoshop than I used to be, I would still pick Canva over Photoshop for this kind of design work.
Further studying: Learn to use Canva with Lisa’s free 20-minute Skillshare class: “Easy and Effective Graphic Design: The Ins and Outs of Canva.”
· Multiplicity Photography Tutorial
The tutorial that I used to clone myself in the picture above.
· Amazon Drive – cloud storage
I use both an external drive and Amazon Drive to store and backup all my images (and all other files). That’s two backups of the same content in two different places. I also have the Amazon Drive mobile app installed on my phone, which gives me access to all my photos wherever I am.
*Since my photographer spin-off, my list of photography resources has expanded. For a more complete and up to date overview of the gear and applications that I use nowadays, have a look at: Photographer for a Month: A Journey into Learning to Shoot Strangers > the resources that I used.
· Mosaico – Instagram planning and curating app
Before Mosaico, I used a complicated workaround to check whether or not my “next planned Instagram post” would fit my feed. I looked ages for an app like this one and at some point even considered hiring someone to make it for me.
· VSCO – photo filter + editing app
Nearly all photos on my Twitter and Instagram are edited in the VSCO mobile app. My VSCO editing routine doesn’t involve much more than adding a filter (C1, H3 or K1) and adjusting exposure, contrast and temperature levels.
· QuickTime – media player by Apple
When I want to upload a screen recording of me browsing my blog (usually to announce a new blog post on Instagram stories), instead of using my phone’s camera to film my computer’s screen, I use QuickTime to make a proper screen recording.
Reading & Listening
· Kindle E-reader – eBook reader
I switched from books to e-books in 2012 and didn’t look back since. Although I still love books, I love having access to my entire library wherever I am more. Plus, I like the ease with which I can order e-books (literally with one click) and then have them instantly delivered to my Kindle.
I also use the Kindle App and Kindle for Mac , which means I have access to all my collections on both my iPhone (for easy access to city guides and cookbooks) and laptop (for looking up something quick and using the dictionary and thesaurus) too. Another feature that I use a lot is “Your Notes and Highlights” for viewing and copying my bookmarks and highlights.
· Audible – digital audiobooks shop and app
I listen to audiobooks when I’m commuting, doing my hair and makeup or dosing off at the pool. Recently I’ve been going through the Spanish trilogy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” which has proven to be quite educational. My favorite audiobook so far must be Elizabeth’s Gilbert “Big Magic.”
· Spotify (premium) – music streaming service
Spotify is my only source for music. The premium subscription gives me access to all the music I could wish for (ad-free), wherever I am, for less than $100,- per year. I have it installed on my phone, laptop, and home sound system (see next resource). Spotify, by the way, is also fantastic for discovering new music (one of my all-time favorite past times). It lets you browse new releases with ease, search for “related artists,” and even generates a weekly playlist (“Discover Weekly”) based on your music preferences.
· Sonos – home sound system
Mr. G and I have an older generation mid-size Sonos speaker in the living room, and since recently, the PLAY:1 mini speaker (aka Snowflake 🛒) in the bedroom. We can use the speakers individually or group them together and have the same music playing in both rooms. The wireless sound system is, furthermore, linked to my Spotify account, making it possible to stream all the music available to me on Spotify. I also love giving my friends access to the Sonos (all it takes is for them to connect to the same wi-Fi network and download the Sonos app on their phone), so they can play their music favorites when visiting.
· “Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It” by Gabriel Wyner – language learning guidebook
If I were to do my first spin-off–Be a Polyglot–over, “Fluent Forever” would no doubt be the only guide that I would use to learn Spanish. Admittedly, Wyner’s method is crazy comprehensive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t even get through the book. Then again, learning a new language isn’t simple either. So if you’ve decided to do it anyway, you might as well invest some time in Fluent Forever and find out how to do it best.
· Anki – flashcard program
I use Anki to learn Spanish the Fluent Forever way (☝🏻), that is, with flashcards. I make flashcards for every verb conjugation, (using Spanishdict’s verb declaration charts), word or grammar construction (following “Practical Spanish Grammar: A Self-Teaching Guide“) that I can’t seem to remember, and then let Anki do its’ spaced repetition magic. I use both the desktop and mobile application.
On a side note, Anki isn’t a very user intuitive app, so count on having to dedicate a weekend to figure it out. If you’re going to be following the Fluent Forever language learning methods, then have a look at Wyner’s article “How to use Anki“. I also recommend going through Anki’s own user manual. I know it’s quite a bit of work, but you only have to do it once, and compared to having to make actual flashcards (or worse, learning the wrong way), it’s fine.
Related reading: What I’m Doing Now > Afternoons
· 5 Minute Journal – gratitude journal
· “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron – 12-week creativity course
· Quote Cards by kikki.K
· The Minimalists – website about minimalism
Fitness & Diet
· I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program by Sarah Wilson
· Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines – 12-week exercise and training plan
· Nike+ Run Club – running app
· “The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin” – Charlotte Cho
· Philip Kingsley Swimcap – haircare
· Philip B. Rejuvenating Oil – haircare
Tell me what you think. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let me know: If you could recommend me one website or product (book, course, application, etc.) in any of these categories, what would it be?