My Digital Toolbox

David and I often chat about digital workflows we have in place that allows us to get our work done.

In my day job, I help run Corporate 3 Design, a nine person brand/print/web shop (we work with agencies as well, so if you need a vendor, give us a shout). We tend to operate near peak capacity most of the time which limits my daytime activities, a wife who works an odd shift schedule with her job in law enforcement and two kids who I happily give much of my evening attention. Time is tight, yet I manage about a dozen websites of my own, including, in my off hours – which means about 9:30pm to Midnight most days during the week. This is what I rely on to get my things done.

Gmail – I’m not afraid of the Google borg and I’ve been using Gmail for so long that I couldn’t switch back to a desktop app if I had to. I’ve even moved our company’s corporate email over to Google Apps. I could make a series of blog posts on how I manage my email within, but I take advantage of labels, filters, Show Indicators and several Google Labs add-ons including: Canned Responses, Google Calendar gadget, Quick Links and Title Tweaks.

Smultron – text editor for the Mac that I’ve been using for years. Everything I do exists in a plain text editor for the simple reason that everything is clean and efficient. Proposals start as text documents and later get moved into a Pages or Word template. Web copy lives as text documents to keep out the auto-updated characters such as em spaces and curly/smart quotes. Web files can be created and editted on the fly without needing to drop in to a GUI app. In fact, this was written in Smultron and copy/pasted to WordPress for publishing.

Google Reader – Who says RSS is dead? I’m subscribed to 179 feeds and I jog through them several times a day. Keyboard shortcuts rule and the key is to synthesize the information, not to read each and every item published. If something strikes my eye, I do one of two things: Click the Instapaper Read Later bookmarketlet in my browser to send to instapaper or command-click the headline to pop in to a new tab.

1Password – If you care about anything on the web it should be usernames and passwords. 1Password lets me manage them all under the security of a secure master password. Plus browser and mobile device integration so everything is always at your fingertips. I believe in this product so much that I often give aways copies as holiday gifts.

Instapaper and Springpad – Instapaper for the simple step of living bookmarks to read when I’m mobile or want to remember something for later. Springpad for the same but it also ups the ante with organization, to-do lists, snippets, recipes, price-watching – just watch their video on getting started and you’ll be sold.

Kindle & Apps – The first half of 2011 has really been a change for me as I made the decision to go all digital in my reading (except my cookbook collection). I just love how progress is synced among my devices (a Kindle, iPad App, iPhone App, and desktop App)

Twitter – Behold the great and powerful Twitter. Not only for my personal projects, but we manage the Twitter (and Facebook) profiles of several clients. Among our services: content generation, reputation management and initiating customer service. The tools I use are: BufferApp, CrowdBooster, HootSuite, Klout, and Twitter’s Mac/Mobile apps.

I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but there you have it. What tools are you using? Drop your list and links in the comments below.



About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.