2 of My Favorite Productivity Tools

Accomplishing a lot of work is easier and more pleasant when you have the right tools and systems in place.

I thought I'd share with you two of my favorite productivity tools.


1Password is software that stores your passwords securely on your computer. Its name comes from the fact that you only need a single password to access all of your other passwords.

1Password generates high-security, difficult-to-remember passwords or allows you to enter your own. It also stores your identity and credit card information so that when you purchase something online, you just ask 1Password to fill in the blanks. I love this feature and I love this product!


If you've taken my Get Organized class or one of my recent workshops, you've undoubtedly heard me rave about Evernote. I don't know if I can adequately explain the brilliance of this program, but let me try. In Alysonese . . .

Think of Evernote as an electronic filing cabinet. You have files with topics (Evernote calls them Notebooks) to which you can add e-notes, text you “clip” from the Internet, pictures, and more.

Let's say you're researching on the Internet for a new body of work. You're clicking on this Web page and that document and finding all sorts of good material. In the past, you'd print that out and put it in a paper file.

Not anymore!

From the page, simply highlight the text you want to clip, and click on the Evernote icon at the top of the browser. Evernote asks which notebook to add the clip to, adheres the URL (this is great for later attribution), and voilà! It's organized for when you need it.

What I like best about e-filing with Evernote is the search function. I can quickly pull up a note with the help of tags, keywords, and titles. And I love that it syncs to my iPhone.

See free and paid versions on the Evernote site.

I'm told that Microsoft's One Note is comparable to Evernote, so check that out first if it's already installed on your computer.

There's much more that I'd like to share with you – including a quick Evernote video – in the Get Organized class, which begins one week from today. See if it's for you.

Whatever tools you choose to increase your productivity, don't get caught up in the technology. Make sure they are easy to use, quick to learn, and aren't more complicated than what you need.

Chime in with your productivity tips and concerns.

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26 thoughts on “2 of My Favorite Productivity Tools”

  1. Wonderful advice, as always! I use Evernote to keep track of everything from soup to nuts, to research notes on art projects, and investment portfolio tracking. The other thing I really love about it is that you can share notebooks with the paid version, across several users. I share notebooks for different topics in our family so that literally….we are all on the same page when we’re on the fly.
    I’ve never tried 1Password, but have an encrypted data library set up in Bento for passwords and that seems to work really well for me. There is actually a template on the Bento site that you can use to start, and customize what will work for you.
    Recently, I found a great app for the iPad that helps with those Daily Action priorites. The app is Do It (Tomorrow) HD. It only allows two pages of “to do” lists – today & tomorrow (who would have guessed). I use it to put my most burning priorities for the day on it, and try my utmost not to have to move a task to the tomorrow page, almost like a challenge each day. It works for me, is super simple to use ….AND….if by chance you don’t get the task done on the day (because of natural disasters, sick kids or that lightening bolt that struck you), then it automatically moves those priorities to the next day. It’s free – can also be used on the iPhone or there’s a cheap $1.99 upgrade to it as well. I like the design of it too – kind of a virtual moleskin notebook with a coffee stain on the corner of the page.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Janice: Does that mean your family members also have/use Evernote? I like that I can email one of my notes!

    2. Alyson, that’s exactly what it means! My hubbie and I have individual upgraded accounts and share several notebooks of information. It certainly makes us more productive. From picking up wood for new stretcher frames, delivery details for a client/order or just grabbing the milk and cheese on the way home (or a kid!)…it makes us all a better team.

  2. Good morning!
    Thanks for the software tips! I was wondering if anyone has any experience with eArtist, the business management tool for artists that keeps track of artwork, clients & invoicing. I tried out the trial version and came across a glitch (I couldn’t retract the SOLD status from a piece that was still available.) I emailed eArtist support twice and haven’t received any response. I would love anyone’s feedback about the program, or a suggestion for one that works! I can’t wait to get organized!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Janice: Lots of people in my classes use eArtist, but I don’t know if you will find support here for it since that’s not the topic of the post and people won’t find your comment.
      I have an old post called “Bookkeeping and Inventory Software” which you can find through the search function. People still post to it and subscribe to comments. You might find it helpful.

    2. Allison~Thanks a ton for getting back to me! I just purchased eArtist and am excited to give it a whirl after reading your past blog. Also, I just downloaded both 1password and Evernote!

  3. Lynnda Tenpenny

    I have a new computer and didn’t have a clue what OneNote was about. Thanks for the tip; it should be very useful. I just checked and there is a OneNote app for the iPad so everything can be accessed there too !

  4. My top productivity tool is my iPad. How did I live before it was invented? I do two thirds of what was previously computer work on it now and I suffer a lot less from my long term RSI as a result 🙂 I love that I can flick between different apps, following different trains of thought without delay. I designed all my new blog icons on it, I can write blog posts, do research, social media etc etc. I’m hooked!
    If I had to pick my most used app, it would have to be the cloud storage app, Dropbox. More and more apps use it as default file storage now which means I can access my stuff from all my different devices 🙂
    I also love IndexCard for the iPad which I use for planning my blog posts. It syncs with Scrivener where I do my ‘big’ writing.

  5. I first learned about Evernote in Alyson’s Get Organized class last November. And it has been the best thing..infact I think it was worth the entire course price. I use evernote for everything from reference ideas,websites..to my goals,visions and weekly checkins..my newsletters, I also have my pwds in there…everything is in one place..
    My other productivity tool is my task list on thunderbird (again learnt abt the need of task list in GO class)…

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Sandhya: I worry about your passwords being in an insecure location. That’s how mine were stored previously – in FileMaker. Not good.

  6. Artists might want to have a look at the Art Tracker software from Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale. It keeps track of creations, consignments and artwork locations. You can print art show labels, consigment lists, inventory, etc. with artwork images. It is not for accounting – there are other programs that do that. Interesting and simple to use, at $45 it is a good deal, if this is what you need. I have found it very useful for my current artshow.

  7. I learn so much when I visit your site. I am off to try these both out. The password thing drives me nuts. What was viewed as secure and good years ago doesn’t work now. Everyone wants alpha this capital that and trying to remember 50 varieties of passwords don’t work anymore. Thanks so much for sharing. xoxox

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Ira: I think there’s a short learning curve for 1Password – at least there was for me. But it’s SO worth it after you get the hang of it. Saves oodles of time. AND, you can tell it what kind of pw to generate.

  8. Wow !!! Thanks so much for the advice. I’m thinking that this Evernote thing is going to be pretty awesome. May eliminate my desk and floor full of papers !!!!!
    I’ll have concept drawings on hand and be able to find things while out and about or in the studio.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Sandy: You can also scan or store any images in Evernote.
      I can take a picture with my iPhone in the Evernote app and it goes to the notebook of my choice.
      One thing: I’m getting too many notebooks and they don’t all need to be synced to my iPhone. So I need to straighten that out.

  9. I love Evernote. It is one of my most favorite tools. One of my favorite uses is to save a tutorial or information I know that I want to know later, but don’t need now.
    I also like to save invoices and business cards in Evernote.
    The 1password seems interesting. I am going to have to check that out.

  10. Best productivity tool for me (mac only) is Omnifocus from http://www.omnigroup.com
    You’ll never think of task management the same again when you watch some of the videos about this product. Syncs betwen mac, iphone, ipad.
    If you have tons of stuff to do for a personal life, your own art, and then a work life on top of it, this is a big help to manage it all.

  11. If you’d like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this web-application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:
    You can use it to manage and prioritize your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote, and also comes with mobile-web, Android and iPhone apps.

  12. Pingback: Using Testimonials on Your Website — Art Biz Blog

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