I wanted to share with you some of the tools that have worked for me now or in the past when it comes to productivity, sanity maintenance, and all that jazz. Because I hate paying for stuff before I’ve had a chance to try it (or ever, really), all of these have either free versions or free trials, and I have indicated which for each one. Please note that some of these links may be referral links (e.g., if you sign up I earn a free month). Under each one I’ve added exactly what the perk is, for full transparency.
YNAB: “You Need a Budget”
This software teaches you how to budget your previous month’s income for the following month. Very simple concept, but the execution is revolutionary. Not an overstatement to say that this program has changed the financial lives of thousands of people. I was always quite good with money, but this budgeting method took me to the next level of financial planning efficiency. I’ve been using it happily for over 5 years.
What you get: A 34-day free trial
Cost after free trial: $7/month
What I get: 1 month free if you sign up after the free trial is over
My tip: They will extend the free trial for you if after 34 days you’re still unsure.
Calendly: Helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails
This scheduler integrates seamlessly with Google Calendar to allow people to book virtual and in-person appointments with you. I use it for all my student office hours, calls with prospective clients for my educational consulting, and calls with collaborators. The workflow is really intuitive and the program allows you to create and maintain firm boundaries around your availability.
What you get: A 14-day free trial of the premium features (e.g., adding more than 1 type of event)
Cost after free trial: from $8/month or FREE if you just want 1 event type
What I get: Nothing - they don’t have a referral program
My tip: The app allows you to schedule padding around meetings (e.g., 15 min breaks) - use this to avoid overwhelm or meetings running into each other!
SaneBox: Email Management for Any Inbox
I never used to be one of those “I hate email” people…until I got buried in emails to the point where it took me a year to crawl out from the pile. I’m really a militant inbox-zeroist at heart, so that year was tough! I seem to spend inordinate amounts of time just sorting my email (let alone answering it!) so I was excited to try this program that did it for me. Smarter than the rules you can set up in you mail client, this program is responsive to your behavior and actually learns which types of messages you tend to open the quickest and which ones you ignore or archive - and then starts doing it for you. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks and so far, I’m pleased with it. I’m still playing around with it to see what level I want to subscribe at - do I want to be able to add unlimited accounts? Do I want the ability to create an unlimited number of my own custom Sane folders? I’m not sure yet!
What you get: A 14-day free trial PLUS $5 off a subscription if you use my link
Cost after free trial: The basic plan is just $24/year, minus the $5 discount
What I get: $5 discount off my membership
My tip: Create customs Sane folders for activities you engage in often. For example, you might do SaneTravel or SaneHouseHunting if that’s something you are currently doing.
If you enjoyed these, look out for more - yeah, I’m one of those productive nerds who spends more time planning than doing. If there’s an app for that, let me know :P