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5 Productivity Tools To Help You Blog Better Right Now

Hammock and laptop in Hawaii

Hard at work in Hawaii.

The longer I blog (I’ve been doing it for a while now) the more I feel the need to increase my daily productivity. I mean, who doesn’t? Fortunately, app developers have recognized this widespread need and have been creating efficiency apps to help people like us increase our productivity. I’ve already written a couple of tutorials about improving efficiency (How to Edit Photos at Lightspeed in Photoshop and How to Use Asana to Stay Organized).

Here are a few of the apps that I use to get more done in a day, and why I like them.

CoSchedule

coshedule

Type: Web-based / WP Plugin

This is a wonderful app that basically combines the social post scheduling functions of apps like Hootsuite with the blog post scheduling functionality of a WordPress editorial calendar plugin.

So, it’s a single application that enables you to keep track of scheduled blog posts and to schedule social posts (whether for that blog post or not) right from within the calendar.

And it integrates into WordPress, so within WordPress you have the option of viewing and working on all of your scheduled blog and social posts in a drag-and-drop calendar view or, after you’ve finished writing a post, you can scroll down to the CoSchedule box and schedule social posts to promote the blog post right there. Or, you perform all of the same functions through your account on the CoSchedule website.

Brilliant.

This is a paid app, but at $10/month it’s totally worth it. And you can try it out for two weeks for free.

Self Control

self-control

Type: Mac

This simple free app helps with a problem everyone who works online has: staying focussed on the task at hand. Self Control allows you to create a blacklist of websites that distract you while you’re working. Then, all you do is start the app, set the amount of time you want those websites blocked, and hit start.

Once you block the websites there is no way to access them (on that computer) until the time is up. A little timer will appear to let you know how much time you have left, which is also handy for keeping track of how much time you’re spending on a task. For example, I know that this blog post has taken me around two hours to write and post.

Focus Booster

focus booster

Type: Mac or PC

Focus Booster is a tool based on the pomodoro productivity technique. Basically, the idea is that you can be more productive if you work in short sprints with little breaks in between. A common split is 30 minutes working and 5 minutes of break time.

Focus Booster is a free simple desktop app that allows you to set your work and break times. You also have the option of hearing the clock tick (maybe that’s motivational for some, but it annoys the hell out of me) and having an alarm go off when each period of time ends. So, it’s basically an alarm clock to keep you on your pomodoro schedule which I’ve found not only to help me stay focussed, but also to track the amount of time I’m spending on tasks, which is essential to increasing productivity.

Asana

asana

Type: Web-based, Android, and IOS

Asana is a free web-based project management application that also has IOS and Android apps. It’s incredibly powerful. It’s basically a glorified to-do list that offers enough organizational features to satisfy even the most OCD person.

Your can create numerous projects, each of which has a to-do list. Each item on the list can have sub-items to break the task down into steps. Each item can also have other people added to it, who will be updated every time progress is made on the task. Files, Dropbox items, or Google Docs can all be attached. Deadlines can be set and viewed on a calendar.

Asana is good to use alone, but is amazing when you’re collaborating with others.

To learn more, check out my introduction to Asana tutorial here.

Photoshop

photoshop

Type: Mac, PC, or Web-based

Photoshop is not just a photo editing software. It’s an enormously powerful tool for creating workflows that can save hours of time. Unfortunately for most people, only advanced users ever really learn how to make Photoshop do the work for them.

That’s why I created this tutorial, which explains how you can set up and execute a workflow that I often use, which enables you to literally edit a dozen photos in just a few minutes.

If you don’t have Photoshop, worry not. The tutorial includes a link to an older, free version of Photoshop. Also, the cloud-based version has become quite affordable (right now it’s only $9.99/month), and is well worth checking out.

I hope you found this helpful! If you have a question, or if there’s anything you’d like to see me write about in the future, please just leave it in the comments below!

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10 Responses to 5 Productivity Tools To Help You Blog Better Right Now

  1. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena May 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Great list! I actually just started using Coschedule today and love it so far. It will save me the time of manually adding everything myself into Google Calendar and can be done right from WP which is nice 🙂

    • Matt Gibson May 23, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

      CoSchedule is great isn’t it? Glad you found this helpful. More productivity hacks are to come!

  2. frankaboutcroatia May 24, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I’ve been blogging seriously for the last six months, and I just feel all over the place, without really accomplishing much at the end of the day. Going to test GoSchedule on my blog. Also a question, I’ve just recently downloaded Photoshop Lightroom. What’s your opinion on it versus Photoshop? Thanks for sharing, Matt!

    • Matt Gibson May 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

      Hey Frank. I understand that feeling. Lots of articles have been written about it. CoShedule helps. Also, choosing obtainable goals for each day and accomplishing them (rather than just working through the day on whatever you feel like) helps get rid of that feeling.

      I prefer Lightroom to Photoshop in most cases. I process most of my photos in Lightroom and only move them to Photoshop if they need to a lot of attention.

      But, I still use the Photoshop workflow mentioned for things I want to do quickly, like resize photos for the About.com Snowboarding Guide, or even resizing the screenshots that I used in this blog post.

  3. Rebekah O'Neal May 28, 2014 at 1:49 am #

    I also have found Focus Booster to be quite handy – and yes! The ticking away as time goes by is annoying to me as is the audible alarm when it is time for a break. I much prefer having the noise alerts with FB be silent and occasionally have a late break or miss it altogether. Being irritated by the alarms, etc. does far more to impede my productivity than help it so FB is most useful for me personally when it is completely silent.

  4. Savi of Bruised Passports June 10, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Great list. I’ve just started using a couple of these. I stuck to using just Hootsuite for the longest time but I was all over the place vis-a-vis deadlines and other such. Looking forward to seeing a difference soon 🙂

    • Matt Gibson June 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

      Awesome! I’m glad you found it useful Savi!

  5. Jeff June 20, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Hi. Thank you for this post. I will help me a lot. Additionally, I would like to share something with you. A few weeks ago, I have found an interesting post about using a Kanban board for blog management. Maybe you find it inspiring: How to manage your blog easier than ever before with Kanban method?

  6. George Cook July 8, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    First of all, thanks for the great list! I will suggest you to include Proofhub in this list. It can be very useful tool. You have all the essential areas like project planning, time tracking and gantt chart etc.

  7. Uptourist March 25, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    I also use Remember the Milk for getting rid of all those websites I don’t need. I don’t have Mac so I am looking for a Windows alternative.

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