3 Online Tools I Use for Inspiration and Organization

productivity overloadI don’t think anyone would argue that there’s a glut of information online. We are swimming in what we now refer to as “content.” Good or bad, it’s everywhere, on every device, at our fingertips, all the time.  

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Keeping up with what’s new and relevant in your niche, while still getting your work done, can be exhausting.

That’s why I am always on the look-out for online tools that help me stay focused and make my life easier.

I generally try different apps and programs with the goal of streamlining 3 areas:

  • Gathering and filtering news and information
  • Organizing tasks and projects
  • Time management 

If I like them, they become part of my routine. Otherwise, I drop them and move on. I probably have half a dozen or more tools I use now and then, but here are three online tools I use regularly:

Feedly.com

When Google shut down its RSS reader in 2014, I scrambled to find a good replacement. (and blogged about the alternatives I tried). The Google reader was where I collected all the blogs I wanted to follow personally and professionally. For years, I blocked out time each week to read them there.

Several alternative RSS readers were very good and I ultimately began using Feedly.com regularly. I use it for enjoyment reading, to keep up with developments in digital media to help clients, as inspiration for my own blog posts and other content creation and to find interesting information to share with my aspiring media magnet audience on social media.

Google Calendar

I’ve written often about how I live by a daily “to-do” list. It’s my A-1 productivity secret. I put absolutely everything on a running list in my reporter’s notebook. With my personal and business “to-do’s”all in one place, I block time on the calendar to work on tasks associated with each item. I like paper records, but this year I am making an effort to rely more on my online tools.

During my holiday vacation, I worked from a list of 27 items and after those 10 days ended, I am proud to say I had only three items left! Yay! I got nearly everything done and still had time for fun!  For me, a list beats winging it hands down.

WordPress.org

I wouldn’t call wordpress a “tool,” in itself, but the myriad capabilities of its themes and plugins are.

My first blog was hosted on Typepad.com but after several years, I was confident enough to move away from this managed blogging system and try my hand at owning my online platform (what author Michael Hyatt calls your home base) with self-hosted wordpress sites. I took a wordpress class and read a few books to get started, invested in hosting, bought some themes and have continued to experiment and learn new tricks ever since.

I am no webmaster, but I can put together a simple website. I know how to install wordpress, do basic theme customization, set up pages and make blog posts, build landing pages and perform other easy steps.  

Hyatt posted a good free training tutorial for setting up a wordpress blog in 2013:
http://michaelhyatt.com/tag/bluehost-setup

In this example, Hyatt uses bluehost as the hosting service. I use hostmonster, but both give you the ability to install wordpress with cpanel.  CPanel is a common dashboard tool most hosting services offer. CPanel may look slightly different on different hosts, as I’ve noticed when using Hostgator and GoDaddy, but they all work the same way and it’s easy to figure out.

Plugins for wordpress are plentiful and do amazing things. On my sites, I’ve used plugins to create editorial calendars, add author resource boxes, price charts, shopping carts, feature Amazon books with affiliate links, promote social sharing and much more.

Be advised, you don’t want to stuff a wordpress site with too many plugins because not all plugins play nice with others. I goof up sometimes and have had to learn not to panic and find ways to un-do my mistakes. (There’s ample info online to get you out of a jam.)

Also, because I have several sites, I use a service called ManageWP.com that lets me access, update and change my sites, all from one dashboard.

So many cool tools, so little time!  

At the end of the day, if you’re like me, you just want tools that are easy to use and get stuff done. It’s a big plus when a tool is compatible with multiple devices and many are.  That way, you can use them very conveniently whether you’re working on your desktop/laptop, phone or tablet.

That said, every app or program has a learning curve and some are more steep than others. I must admit I’ve abandoned tools because I could not get them to work quickly, even though they might have been useful in the long run.

The good news is, creators are launching new things all the time and many are free, low cost or offer free trials. Once you assemble your go-to toolbox, you’ll probably wonder how you ever lived without it.  

Leave a comment about your favorite tools. I love discovering new ones.

Note to my loyal readers:

At the end of this month, this site will be changing. This week’s post was delayed because I’ve been grappling with decisions about its future and have decided to end the Your Media Moment weekly blog posts on January 27, 2015. I’ve been blogging regularly (admittedly, off and on at times) since 2007.  Now after nearly 400 posts here, I am moving in a slightly rebranded  direction and want to clear my schedule to make room for additional client projects and to pursue other digital media projects for my own business. 

This site will remain but will likely become a landing page for my other programs. The blog posts will be revised and organized into a book. (or two!) I  plan to develop an online media authority course and mentoring program and will be launching a new audio podcast on its own website. The podcast site isn’t set up yet, but stay tuned for more information here and on social media.

It has been my pleasure to serve you with posts I hope have made you more media savvy and advanced your media success journey. 

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Janet Vasil

Media Interview and On-Camera Trainer at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Media Trainer, Executive Speaker Coach and Video Storyteller Janet Vasil is an award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who Helps Leaders Communicate with Impact On Camera, On Stage and In the Media. Contact at http://bit.ly/Talk2Janet

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