Resources

 

Technology hardware and software I have personally used and recommend. The items on this page will help you be the most productive possible in work, life and in the classroom.

 
 

Tools For Your Most Productive Life

The tools shown on this page are curated from our experience working in an office, working from home and working in education. Every tool, product or software has been used by our team and is something we can confidently recommend as a helpful item.

Before jumping to the list, I want to have full disclosure. 

Some of the items on this page include an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, we will receive a commission. The amount of the commission varies per item, and some items there is no commission we receive. If there is any commission, it comes at no cost to you. We have only included items on this list we personally have experience using and feel comfortable recommending. Please do not feel obligated to purchase anything and certainly do not purchase anything unless you think it serves a need you have and you have the room in your budget.

Whether you decide to purchase anything on this list or not, thank you for being here.

For our most recent course, visit this page. For our most recent online conference, visit this page

Devices and Hardware

In Jared's bag

The contents of my bag serve me for all of our computer work except for when recording videos. Most days that simply includes my bag, Surface Pro, Surface pen, mouse, headphones and power cord. If my wife is with me, I'll add her Surface and power cord in there as well. I have room for water, snacks and even a change of clothes if I want to make it an overnight thing or add a workout in.

I love operating with only a few items so I can work anywhere with internet access.

Computer bag of tools

Surface Pro

My computer is my primary tool for work, play and learning. Sparing no expense, in 2017 I purchased the Surface Pro 4 model with Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256 GB of memory (I use the cloud heavily so little storage is needed). On my second year, this device is going strong and I hope to get three years out of it before upgrading to a newer model. I use the Surface Pro 4 still, but recommend purchasing the most recently released option whenever buying a new device.

Surface Laptop

Andrea prefers a more solid keyboard than the Surface Pro 4, so she opted for the beautiful burgundy color Surface Laptop. Immediately upon purchasing, she upgraded from Windows 10 S to Windows 10 and it is everything she needs. We can fit both our Surface devices into my bag and we are off to work anywhere on the go or at home. Surface is clutch for our family.

Surface Pen

The pen is used less frequently than I would like, but it helps us in some key areas. We'll use it to sketch out designs or jot down work flow charts in OneNote. For some tasks, the pen works best. It sits easily on the side of my Surface Pro 4 and is worth the investment to make your device complete. We share one pen between the two of us.

Microsoft Mouse

My hand hurts using a keyboard pad and I'm not nearly as precise as I'd like. That's why I use a mouse to work. It is small enough to fit in my bag for on the go and is big enough to feel like a traditional mouse in my hand.

iPhone

There just isn't a phone that works as easily as the iPhone. The Android phones have been enticing, but I'm used to and comfortable with the iPhone so I stick with it. I'm currently on the iPhone S, which is outdated and I'd recommend getting the newest iPhone X.

Powerbeats 3 Wireless

A Christmas gift from my brother-in-law, these headphones rock my workout and my computer work. After watching the HBO documentary series The Defiant Ones, and a childhood of listening to Dr. Dre's music, I can't help but appreciate and support the headphone company he and Jimmy Iovine built. The downfall is they aren't great for Skype or calls.

iPhone Headphones

I wear these headphones when doing Skype calls or video webinars. They serve their purpose and are a nice alternative to some of the bigger and clunkier headsets out there.

The items above plus the items below to complete video recordings at home:

The items in the list below DO NOT travel with me. I store them in a small box in my closet and use as needed.

Microsoft Surface Dock

The surface has one usb and one micro SD slot, not enough for connecting multiple monitors and other hardware. Get the Surface Dock and you'll be able to customize your setup complete with a camera, microphone, external monitors, hard connection to internet and more, however you like (within reason).

Wireless Keyboard

When I'm on camera, I remove my Surface Pro 4 keyboard and prop it high to eye level. Then, I'll use my wireless keyboard which is placed much lower than my Surface so my camera is sitting on top of my computer and can be at eye level while still being able to type. 

Logitech Camera

This camera was recommended to me by a mentor and serves the purpose well for a low cost and small camera for webinars and Skype calls. 

Monitor

When I quit my corporate job, I got rid of the bulky dual screen monitor setup I had. I just didn't need it or have the space for it. But now I'm dreaming of connecting my Surface to one large external monitor in a home office. When I get to that point, I'm taking my buddy's recommendation and getting a Dell UltraSharp 31.5" Ultra LCD 4K Monitor with PremierColor. Two reasons: 1) it's a huge 4K monitor and it doesn't make sense to buy anything less than 4K, and 2) it comes color calibrated from the factory, meaning I don't have to mess with the settings to get the right color. This monitor is on my holiday list, and if you are in the market for a new monitor, this is the best option for me (and I think could be great for you).

Software and Applications (Apps)

Office365

This is the foundation of my productivity tools. I come from a corporate background so am very comfortable with most of the software tools that Office365 provides. 

OneNote

All my thoughts, plans, hopes and dreams start in OneNote. It is the cornerstone of my computer productivity and planning. 

Teams

Even with a small work from home team of two, Teams allows us to stay on track of meetings, keep our files organized to projects and stay in communication.

Flipgrid

A great tool for allowing students to have a voice, I'm experimenting with ways to have customer testimonials and increase engagement at events.

Canva

When PowerPoint isn't quite the design tool I want, I'll use Canva. Most often I'll use it for a blog post image or for a conference PDF handout that I want to be less structured than something I can easily do in other tools.

Business Tools

If you have or are thinking about a blog or website for educational or business related purposes, take a look at the tools I use for this site and my business.

Bluehost

This is the most popular hosting service for beginners and WordPress. Don't spend any time looking for other options if you are just starting out. 

ConvertKit

The ability to send helpful emails to my audience is critical for the success of my business. ConvertKit is the best option out there because they are solely focused on helping bloggers and creatives with their emails. Other services out there are focused on eCommerce or other strategies, which cause their software to have irrelevant features for the typical website blogger like me.

Canva

For my logos and social media posts, I'll use this tool to create beautiful (or attempting to be beautiful) designs to share. It is free, and there is a paid option for more features. Give it a try!

TweetDeck

Spend a few minutes in one of Microsoft's TweetMeets and you'll quickly see the need for TweetDeck. Plenty of others recommend it too. I use it to schedule Tweets, follow hashtags and better engage in the sometimes whirlwind of conversation on Twitter. 

Vimeo Pro

Videos on my site and for the conferences are stored on Vimeo. It keeps my site running faster, allows me to edit permission levels and is easy to use. Best of all, there are no ads for videos that your viewers have to sit through. 

WordPress

So much of the internet lives on WordPress. It is the most flexible option out there, and near the easiest. A big word of caution, use WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. This means you'll need your own hosting (see Bluehost recommendation above), but it will allow for the greatest level of customization and will save you time and money in just your first year of use. Above all else, pay for a custom domain and do not use a domain extension like .wordpress.com. 

Thrive Themes

I have no coding background and rely on Thrive Themes to help me make my site function and be viewable. The Thrive Themes Membership is the option I choose as it allows me access to all the potential themes and plugins on any site I choose.

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