As a productivity trainer and coach, I am often asked what tools I use personally. So I put together my annual Captain Time’s “Top Productivity Tools 2023” to share what tools I use to keep productive.
The tools listed are in alphabetical order
I will mention that some of the links provided are affiliate links and do provide me with a small commission or benefit if you purchase through the link. But none of these tools are on the list to make me commissions, these are all tools I use personally. I appreciate your support of independent content creation by using the links provided.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s look at my Top Productivity Tools 2023 lineup.
ARPrice is a pricing table plugin for WordPress. It lets me easily create lovely pricing tables in a variety of formats, offer payment in multiple currencies, and the ability to choose between monthly or annual subscriptions. I use it on my own websites and for my clients as well. Here are some pricing tables I have created using ARPrice.
Here is an example below of ARPrice from my coaching page:
Adobe Creative Cloud Express
I am horrible at graphic design. I know this and outsource graphic design like business cards, signage, and websites.
But when I post blog articles and create PowerPoint presentations nearly every week, I don’t have the budget to pay for a professional graphic designer for all these graphic pieces.
This is where Adobe Creative Cloud Express comes to the rescue. Adobe Creative Cloud Express is an easy-to-use online graphic design program with templates for social media, infographics, logos, flyers, and more. It includes access to stock photos and will also let you schedule your creations to post to your social media.
I use Adobe Creative Cloud Express for blog post images, social media posts, and YouTube thumbnails.
Here are two videos I created showing how I use Adobe Creative Cloud Express:
Airtable is an amazing online database tool that lets you create and share databases with others. Airtable has a huge library of templates, including project trackers, CRMs, film production, event planning and a lot more.
With Airtable, you can create your own productivity tools with great pull-down menus. I use Airtable for task management for my virtual assistant agency, prototyping new products, building event databases and a lot of other projects.
Here is a video I created showing some of the ways I use Airtable:
Answer the Public
Answer the Public is a great brainstorming tool. You simply enter a word or phrase and Answer the Public shows you a great visual map of questions that people might ask about the topic. It also gives you additional ideas with comparisons, prepositions, alphabetical uses, and more.
I use Answer the Public to generate ideas for my online content, online courses, etc.
Here is my Answer the Public review video so you can see the tool in action.
Let’s face it – software is expensive! And everyone wants to charge you per user, per month. I probably spend $500-$600 per month on software subscriptions so I am always looking for ways to get great software for less money.
AppSumo is my secret weapon to save on software costs. AppSumo offers limited-time offers where you can purchase lifetime software licenses for a one-time fee.
I replaced several $20-$50 per month software subscriptions with one-time fees of $59 to $99, saving me a LOT of money each month.
Note that some of the software is from up-and-comers so you will not often find industry-leading software in most cases.
AppSumo is fantastic about refunds, so I regularly purchase software to test it and then request a refund if the software doesn’t meet my needs.
Here is my AppSumo Review video and article.
Our computer hard drives hold a lot of important stuff. Work files, financial data, and family photos just cannot be replaced if lost.
In the event of a fire or robbery, your critical files and photos are gone. You can back up to another hard drive, but a fire can also destroy your backup drive. And burglars may take your backups as well.
To back up my digital life, I use BackBlaze. Backblaze is a “set and forget” solution that backs up my data every day without me having to do anything.
Big Stock Photo
As a professional speaker, YouTuber and blogger, I use a LOT of stock photos. I use stock photos to illustrate blog posts, create presentations, and to add imagery to my YOuTube videos.
I have a monthly membership to Big Stock Photo for my stock photo needs. Big Stock Photo has the right combination of a deep library of images plus an affordable price.
Blubrry is a hosting platform for my Time Tips Podcast. It hosts my podcast files, helps promote them online, and provides me with listener statistics.
Blubrry has a handy WordPress plugin so it is easy to add my podcast to my blog.
Book Like a Boss
I have clients booking coaching sessions with me every week. In the early days of coaching, I used to try to book the sessions with clients myself, but it turned into a nightmare of back-and-forth emails, time zones, and struggling to find times that worked in both our calendars.
I automated my calendar bookings using Book Like a Boss. With Book Like a Boss, my coaching clients can easily book sessions on my calendar and see open times in their local time zones. Book Like a Boss is integrated with my Google Calendar, so double bookings are a thing of the past.
I can control the time margins between bookings, set the maximum number of bookings I want in a day, and even set it up so new clients pay directly before booking.
One of the most annoying things about the Internet is all the advertising and tracking websites do.
I use the Brave Browser to browse privately online, block cookies and remove intrusive advertising.
And, because Brave is based on Chrome, I have the benefit of still being able to access all of the Chrome extensions in the Chrome Web Store to add additional functionality to my browser.
Buy Me a Coffee
As an independent content creator for YouTube, I spend a lot of time and effort to create interesting content for my subscribers and followers as well as spending a lot of money on tools I use for content creation.
Content creators struggle with how to earn money from their content. Advertising revenue from platforms like YouTube is very tiny unless you are a celebrity or pop star. Adding advertising annoys your followers and getting sponsorships takes a lot of time.
I have looked at tools like Patreon in the past, but it would have needed me to create multiple tiers of content and payment levels, creating a lot more work for me.
Buy Me a Coffee is a simple tool that lets you add a link or button to any of your content to encourage viewers to “buy you a coffee” or leave a small donation.
Over the years, I have attended meetings or joined many business networking groups.
My favorite networking group is BX Networking. BX Networking originally started in Australia but is now growing into North America and other places.
In addition to great in-person networking sessions, they also allow you to network online.
Their meetings are so good, I have built entire workflows to build my referral network using BX Networking.
A great way to attract subscribers or to add value to your subscribers is to create tools for them. I use Calconic to create calculators for my subscribers and community.
Here are some calculators I have created using Claconic. I embedded the Meeting Cost Calculator below so you could see how it works.
As a time management coach, I use time tracking as a diagnostic tool for my clients. The time-tracking tool I use is Clockify. I not only use Clockify for my coaching clients, I also use it to track the time spent by my virtual assistants in my virtual assistant agency.
When creating graphics for my presentations, blog posts, and websites, I often need to match an existing color. Colorzilla is a free Chrome extension that adds an “eyedropper” to my browser tools and lets me click on any color and immediately see and copy the Hex color number so I can match it exactly.
I do a LOT of writing! Blog posts, YouTube video scripts, sales letters, and website copy – not only for myself but also for my clients.
That is why I am so pleased that I found a tool that cut my writing time in half.
CopyAI is an artificial intelligence tool that helps with writing and copywriting. I just enter some text, and CopyAI generates 3-5 different variations in a few seconds.
I can copy text from any of the variations I like and assemble the article in the writing panel.
CopyAI has tools for:
product name generating
Instagram captions and more
This is a tool I use every day. It doesn’t replace my writing skills, rather it enhances them by giving me an AI-brainstorming partner to help generate ideas and approaches.
Cyberlink Power Director
I work with a lot of videos. I am a YouTuber, I create training videos for my Brainstorming.Social community and I record webinars I teach.
The software I use for video editing for YouTube and training videos is Cyberlink Power Director.
I have used it for years and find it easy to use and I have created templates to make my video editing easier.
Elgato Stream Deck
The Elgato Stream Deck is commonly used by gamers and other streamers to use physical push buttons to control various effects and other functions while they live stream.
But the same functionality also works for me to create my own “push-button productivity” system by linking the physical buttons to my software programs, text snippet insertion, and more.
Nobody can keep up with all the social media platforms! For many special media platforms, I just post my latest articles and messages and don’t really spend time on them.
But I do use Facebook for the following activities:
local community news and engagement
keeping up with family news
buy and sell items on the Marketplace
following Facebook pages of software tools I us
Fast Stone Image Viewer
Fast Stone Image Viewer is a very fast way for me to view images and to import pictures from my camera.
I like it much better than the built-in image viewer in Windows
To keep up with news in my industry and for my hobby, I use Feedly. Feedly is an RSS reader that lets me create my own online magazine that I can read on my smartphone.
Here is my review video, “How to Avoid Fake News With Feedly.”
Fiverr is a service marketplace where freelancers offer “gigs’ like writing, programming, web design, graphic design, and more.
While I prefer to hire some services like virtual assistants on an ongoing basis, I like Fiverr for “one-offs” where I need the service sporadically.
I regularly use Fiverr for graphic design work on business cards, postcards, signs, and presentations.
The email program I use personally and in my business is Gmail. Gmail does a good job of keeping the spam out, integrates with other software, and lets me achieve Inbox Zero every day.
Grammarly is a great tool that helps you catch grammatical mistakes and typos while you write.
The tool is great at helping me avoid embarrassing writing mistakes and keeping my emails, articles, and proposals looking professional.
Google Analytics is a critical tool for telling me where my visitors come from and what they do on my website, including when they become subscribers and customers.
This lets me tell at a glance what marketing and advertising programs are working and which to drop.
Having this knowledge helps save me a lot of money and focus on building on what is working.
When it comes time to share documents with clients and others, I turn to Google Docs. I use Google Docs to easily share checklists, templates, proposals, marketing plans, and other documents while controlling whether the documents are read-only, or open for collaboration.
As a time management coach, my calendar is central to my productivity. My primary calendar that shows appointments, time blocking, and coaching sessions is Google Calendar.
One of my reasons for choosing Google Calendar is that most other apps will integrate with it, letting me add additional tools that can access my calendar.
I take a lot of screenshots in a week. I take screenshots for process documentation, delegating to my virtual assistants, sending support tickets, writing software reviews, and more.
The Windows Print Screen feature is very basic so I use Greenshot to give me better screenshots and more flexibility.
Greenshot lets me snapshot an entire screen or just a part of it and then easily edit the image to add arrows, highlights, or descriptive text.
Jabra 510 Speakerphone
I regularly have to make and accept phone calls from clients and prospects. But holding a telephone to my ears for hours isn’t very ergonomic, and doesn’t free up both hands to type notes. And the speakerphone on most phones isn’t very good quality.
I use the Jabra 510 Speakerphone to free up both hands and to create better sound quality for myself and my contacts.
We all need a place to keep passwords and I use KeePass for this. KeePass is a free, open-source password app that not only stores your password but can generate hard-to-break passwords for you.
Most of us have an online presence scattered across many platforms. In my case, I have two websites, plus profiles on social media like LinkedIn, FaceBook, Reddit, YouTube, Instagram, Counter.Social and more.
Linktree is a link aggregator that lets you pull together your best website, social media, training, and other links, You can see how Linktree aggregates my urls here.
I am a real fan of video delegating. It is much faster for me to create s short video with voiceover for my virtual assistant than trying to write out all the steps and do screenshots for each step. It is also faster and more powerful to create short videos to explain things to clients and prospects.
Loom is a browser-based extension that makes it easy to do my screen capture and other videos. Once the video is recorded, Loom automatically creates a sharing url for me to send to my clients or virtual assistants. This lets me quickly create a video training library.
Lumen5 is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered tool to quickly create videos from text articles.
I find it much faster than creating presentations from scratch and have been using it to easily create short video content for platforms that prefer short videos like YouTube Shorts, Facebook Reels, Instagram, etc.
Email marketing isn’t dead. It is still a key part of marketing and engagement with your audience. MailerLite is the email marketing program I use to keep in touch with my subscribers. It is easier to use and more affordable than MailerChimp.
Mangools SEO Suite
It isn’t enough to create great content online. People need to find your content. I use the Mangools SEO Suite to do keyword research and to find niche topic ideas to get me to the top of the search engines.
The suite consists of KW Finder for keyword research, SerpChecker for competitor analysis, SerpWatcher for rank tracking, LinkMiner for backlink analysis, and Site Profiler to analyze websites’ SEO fundamentals.
I have successfully used Mangools to create many content pieces that have reached the first page on Google and other search engines.
I recently launched an online brainstorming community called Brainstorming.Social.
Before launching the service, I looked around for weeks to find the best platform to build the community on. The community-building platform I chose was Mighty Networks for its feature set, support, desktop interface, and mobile app.
A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information. It’s like an outline, but more fun! You start with a central topic and then write down sub-topics around it. Then you can move the topics around by dragging and dropping them wherever they make sense in relation to each other.
I use mind mapping for brainstorming, planning, training, and taking coaching notes. And I can share all my mind maps online.
My favorite mind map program is MindMeister. Here is a MindMeister demo video I did so you can see how I use it.
Miro also does mind mapping, but the main reason I use Miro is for its excellent themed boards. You can find board templates for lean canvas, Kanban, SWOT analysis, flowcharts, idea napkins—and the list goes on!
While mind maps are great for free-flowing ideas, these board templates help direct your thinking to be more focused and to answer key questions.
You can share your Miro boards with others online.
I use the Nimble customer relationship management system (CRM) to manage my prospects, and clients, as well as my in-person and online networking contacts.
I use Nimble because of its excellent user interface, workflows, tagging, and social media, Gmail, and LinkedIn integration.
I have arranged a partnership with Nimble where they are offering our members a discount coupon, which will give new Nimble sign-ups 25% off their first 3 months of Nimble. As an added bonus, I will provide 1 hour of Nimble training ($75 value) at no additional charge if you join Nimble via the link below.
Here are the steps to claim this reward:
Click on this link to sign up – https://www.nimble.com/register/business_trial/?lead_source=partner&lead_source_id=garlandcoulson
Enter this coupon when signing up to get the discount GARLAND25
Once you have signed up with the link and the coupon, book your free Nimble training session here.
Want to learn more about Nimble first? Here is a short video on how I prospect using Nimble.
All this working works up an appetite! I use the Paprika App to manage my recipes and grocery list.
Paprika lets me save recipes from the web without all the advertising and non-recipe content. You can take notes, make additions, categorize, and rate your recipes. You can also add recipes manually so you can save old family recipes you don’t want to lose.
When we work online, we all have to get paid. PayPal is one of the payment systems I use to get paid by clients.
PayPal handles invoicing, and subscriptions, and I use it to pay my team.
Modern cameras take pictures with tons of pixels. But these large pictures aren’t great for loading fast on the Internet. This is why I use the Radical Image Optimization Tool (R.I.O.T.) to quickly optimize images to reduce their size to post online.
With the decline in usefulness of LinkedIn and other online discussion platforms, Reddit remains one of my most useful places to go to ask questions and make connections.
You can read my Reddit Marketing Guide to see more ways I use Reddit in my business.
With all the years that Windows has had to develop its operating system, you would think they would make it easy to search for your files on your hard drive.
Nope. Windows search is slow and confusing and is determined to push Bing web search results into your search which makes no sense when you are looking for a hard drive file.
I use Search Everything from Void Tools as a replacement for Windows search for finding files on my hard drive. It is blindingly fast compared to Windows search and always finds my files when I name them properly.
I need great hosting, not only for myself but also for my clients.
While I am technically savvy, some of my clients are less so, so I want to ensure my clients are well taken care of when they need help,
I have used SiteGround for web hosting for myself and my clients for years and have been very pleased with their service.
I use Social Bee to automate and schedule my social media posting and manage my social media messaging across multiple profiles in one place.
Square is another payment system I use. I use Square and it’s physical terminal that connects to my smartphone for in-person payments at markets, trade shows, and live events too.
Stripe is the payment provider I use for my website and online community. It lets my clients pay by credit card for coaching, virtual assistance, and other services they purchase from me.
For years, I have used text expanders to automate text blocks such as sales letters, proposals, URLs, symbols, and more. My favorite text expander is Text Blaze. In addition, Text Blaze also allows me to add key presses and input fields to my automated snippets.
Text Blaze saves me hours every week.
Note-taking is a critical part of my day.
I use UpNote to take notes, organize them, and to create my Personal Knowledge Base. I love UpNote for its minimalist design and its great features.
In addition to using the desktop UpNote app, I also use the mobile UpNote app to capture notes while I am away from my desk. Here is my UpNote video review so you can see how I use UpNote.
I create new YouTube videos every month. I hadn’t done much with podcasting, but it occurred to me that I could repurpose the audio portion of most of my YouTube videos to be in audio format for my podcast feed.
So I started using VLC media player to save a copy of my MP4 YouTube videos as MP3 audio for podcasts.
VLC is fast, easy, and free to use.
As an entrepreneur, it’s critical that I know my profit levels and make sure I don’t get hit with a big tax bill.
I use Wave Accounting to keep up with my bookkeeping on a weekly basis so I always know up to the week what my monthly, quarterly, and annual profits are and how much money to set aside for taxes.
I work with a lot of clients and partners who need to share large files, including presentations, videos, and proposals. But emailing them can be difficult—Gmail limits you to 25 MB for outgoing files, which is just not enough space for some of the larger files I have to send.
That’s why I use We Transfer. It handles the transfer of the larger file easily and notifies me when the recipient has downloaded it.
It’s also an easy way for me to send files directly from my computer without having to connect to any third-party services or software (like Dropbox).
I have multiple websites and I manage websites for several clients. For all these websites, I use WordPress as the web content management system.
WordPress makes it easy for my clients and me to edit their site pages and posts. I also love that WordPress offers a massive variety of plugins for functions like shopping carts, SEO, payments, calendars, and more.
I use WordPress with my SiteGround hosting. Please note I do NOT recommend WordPress . com because of the many restrictions they put on plugin use.
YouTube has been a great place to host my Time Tips video channel and is an excellent source of new clients for me.
It adds credibility to my coaching and speaking practice as people can see the wealth of productivity topics I have created videos for.
As a time management coach, I use a LOT of different task management systems because I have to learn the systems so I can train my clients.
The task management system I use for my personal daily productivity is ZenKit ToDo.
I love ZenKit ToDo as it is very minimalist and easy to use but with enough power to let me create extensive task templates. See the ZenKit ToDo review video below to see the tool in action.
I use Zoom for my meetings, group brainstorming sessions, and online workshops.
My reason for choosing Zoom is that most people are familiar with it and Zoom integrates easily with my Google calendar, coaching booking, and workshop registration systems.
I also like the background feature where I can change the background behind me of the meeting based on the topic we are discussing or the audience I am working with.
More Help and Training with Top Productivity Tools 2023
And we’re done!
I hope you enjoyed my Top Productivity Tools 2023 list of the top productivity tools I use in my business.
I hope this post has helped you get a sense of what’s out there and how to find the right tool for your needs. I
f you have any questions about which tools are best for you or would like training on these or other productivity tools, reach out—I’d love to help!
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