From my experience, productivity tools that live in a browser also tend to die in a browser. For me, this is because I have so many tabs open that I tend to forget to go to the many persistent tabs I have open for Google+, the web version of Tweetdeck and even blogs that are powered by WordPress.
Over time I simply stop using them or look at them as a nuisance rather than my gateway to sharing my thoughts with the outside world.
In the past 6 months, I have started to try and find desktop application replacements for services that normally live in a browser, and it has made a big difference in my productivity. Here are a few of my favorites.
The first tool I started with was Evernote, and I already shared my success with using Evernote for increasing my writing productivity. I use Evernote to jot down quick ideas wherever I may be via my phone, iPad, laptop or desktop computer. These ideas are synchronized seamlessly between devices and I can use Evernote to write a draft of a blog post before loading into WordPress for final revisions.
Next, I use Skitch to capture images and screen shots, as well as add little notes or arrows to them. I can even blur out sensitive information from screenshots using their very simple brush tool.
Best of all, it’s completely free and synchronizes with Evernote (Skitch was acquired by Evernote earlier this year).
While I love Evernote for getting an idea started, I have become more frustrated over time using the tool to create finished blog posts. This is for several reasons, especially:
Because of these deficiencies, I started to explore desktop software for drafting blog posts and placing directly into WordPress. While there are many available, I have two recommendations:
MarsEdit for the Mac (Free Trial, then $39.95)
Windows Live Writer for Windows
While I have not personally used Windows Live Writer, I have read that it is a top notch program – the best for windows.
As for MarsEdit, I am using it to write this post. In fact, I have used it to write every post on all of my blogs for the past two weeks. My personal blog, my marketing analytics blog and my travel blog all use MarsEdit – and now so does Three Deep!
What I like about MarsEdit is that I can paste pictures directly into the post window from Skitch, give it a filename and have it upload directly to WordPress (this saves about 5 minutes per image posted). I also like that it allows me to easily format posts, add categories and tags, modify the post slug and upload directly to WordPress as a published post or a draft.
The coolest feature is that if you want to add a hyperlink, it automatically adds whatever link is in your clipboard!
The only thing I really don’t like is that when I upload a draft, the post date is set at that time, and if I don’t pay attention, the post will show up as something occurring in the past vs. in present time.
The last tool I use for productivity is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin makes SEO easy by helping you make sure that your blog post conforms to a minimum set of SEO standards. Basically, all you need to do is tell the tool your preferred keyword and they will do the rest, letting you know how well your post is adhering to a common set of on page SEO standards.
No longer must you guess as to whether you are on the right track – this tool tells you that right in your post view.
If only this could be integrated directly into Mars Edit, I wouldn’t need to post to WordPress as a draft – I would publish directly from my editor. One can still dream!
With these tools I mention, you should be able to take your ideas to execution in a matter of minutes. If you have a good idea, you should be able to turn it into content for the web in 30-60 minutes, all while saving yourself at least that much time through gained efficiencies.
Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!