Laura Petrolino

12 Days of Christmas: Five Must-Have Productivity Tools

By: Laura Petrolino | December 11, 2017 | 

12 Days of Christmas: Five Must-Have Productivity Tools

On the fifth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you five productivity tools, four PR pro giftsthree PR trendstwo PR books, and one habit to change in 2018.

The best gift of all is the gift of time, right?

We all want it.

We all need it.

None of us have enough of it.

And while we can’t give you more time, we can help you use the time you have more effectively.

That’s why we have five productivity tools to make it feel like you just bought more time.

Productivity Tools that Change Lives

I remember a time before Slack. It was tragic.

I don’t like to think about those hard, Slack-less times.

In fact, when I first joined the Spin Sucks and Arment Dietrich teams we used a private Facebook group and texts for our internal communication.

That felt so much more efficient than email at the time.

But when we moved to Slack a couple of years ago, the world changed.

And this new world is a place I never want to leave again.

<cue inspirational music>

Now not only do we use Slack for our internal communications, but also for clients, partners, and of course for all of our community and student groups.

This includes our Spin Sucks Slack Community, PR Dream Team, Masterclass, and Mastermind Groups.

When you join the 30-Day Communications Challenge, you’ll have access to a Slack group for that, as well.

Our entire business is built around Slack.

So I guess it shouldn’t be any surprise that Slack would rank our #1 productivity tool.

In fact, we talk about Slack a lot on this blog, so below is an assortment of past posts where you can learn all you need to know about Slack as a productivity tool.

Gini Dietrich discusses why Slack is a must-have communications tool.

Mike Connell has a two-part series with a ton of fun integrations and apps for Slack.

He teaches you how to get the most out of it (and do some pretty fun tricks).

There is a part three coming up soon too, so watch for that!

And for all you Slack haters out there, we have something to say to you as well.

Productivity Tools for Video Conferencing

Just like with our internal communication, our video conference platform of choice has undergone an evolution during the last several years.

We originally used Google Hangouts and Skype pretty religiously.

Then a few years ago we worked with a client who was a huge Zoom advocate and introduced us to the platform.

The rest is history.

Zoom provides the best video resolution and functionality of any video conference we’ve used.

Plus it’s just simple and straightforward.

It’s easy to invite people and intuitive for all users.

You can:

  • Screenshare
  • Chat with the full group or individuals
  • Record sessions
  • Even break larger groups up into smaller sub-groups, while on the call.

While like any video conference platform, it has its glitchy days (some days it really plots against me), overall it’s a virtual meeting’s best friend and a really useful productivity tool.

Even better you can ask people to “meet me in my Zoom room” which just sounds cool, right?

Productivity Tools for Email 

Like Slack, we’ve collectively probably mentioned Sanebox five million times in this blog.

Gini first introduced it to us all to Sanebox almost two years ago.

We had been using it internally at for about two months at that time and were already addicted.

If you were to name the biggest hindrance to your productivity, it would most likely be distraction.

We live in a world of constant distraction.

Between emails, texts, social, phone calls (people still make those, you know) and all the other dings and beeps that pop up during the day, our brains very rarely are allowed the time for focused work.

This is a problem.

A major problem.

And if you think you can multi-task, you are wrong.

In fact, studies have shown the people who think they are the best multitaskers are actually the worst.

So let’s just all agree on this fact: you can’t multitask.

We spend up to 28 percent of our work week managing email.

For those of you who aren’t great with math, that’s more than a quarter of our week.

Depressing, right?

On top of that, The University of California Irvine found we’re interrupted by email roughly every three minutes, and once interrupted it can take 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task.

Do you feel yourself getting anxious as you figure out how much time you spend on email, which you could instead spend growing your business?

Or for that matter, just enjoying your life?

Take Back Your Email

Sanebox to the rescue.

It prioritizes your email boxes, helps you eliminate email you don’t need to see, and even reminds you when you need to follow-up with someone.

You can learn how Sanebox works here (that’s a referral link, so if you sign up through there you’ll get a 14-day free trial and I’ll get $5, which I will use to buy my dog ridiculous holiday outfits like this one).

Sanebox is not just a productivity tool. It will change your life.

Honestly, there have been a few times mine has stopped working, for one reason or another.

I go into meltdown mode watching thousands (yes, thousands) of emails filter into my system.

Emails Sanebox normally takes care of for me.

Once you go Sanebox, you’ll never go back.

Wunderlist is the Super Hero of Productivity Tools

I’m a list maker.

A list, just by itself, is a productivity tool for me. 

I love lists.

My little Type A self experiences the most extreme joy when I cross something off my list.

Plus, I just need lists for my own sanity.

I even keep a notebook by my bed so I can write down things I think of in the middle of the night.

Otherwise, I just lie there, sleepless, mentally making lists.

No doubt I have issues, but this post isn’t about me (which is disappointing, I know).

It’ss about productivity tools to help YOU.

And Wunderlist is one of them.

It’s a list maker’s dream come true productivity tool.

And you can use it on your computer and phone.

You can make basic lists, create lists in lists, categorize your lists, set deadlines and reminders, add people to collaborate on lists with you, even integrate with Slack…..are you giddy yet?

I’m excited just typing that out and I already use it.

List Lovers Unite

I use mine for all lists professionally and personally.

I use it for meeting agendas, weekend plans, to-dos per client, grocery lists, priority to-dos, goal setting, and even to track my personal records at the gym.

But wait…there’s more!

When you check off a task it gives you the most wonderful and fulfilling ding!

The levels of euphoria it creates in me each time are really almost embarrassing.



Anyway, get Wunderlist.

Get it now.

Make a list.

Heck even add me as a collaborator to a list.

Then we can just fill in tasks together and check them off to get our “ding” fix of the day.

That’s productive, right?

Start with this one

  • Find to-do list productivity tool: Ding!

Productivity Tools for Frogs Images

Have you noticed the intense level of frog images included in articles here during the last several months?

You can thank Pixabay for that.

Pixabay is a community of photographers who share copyright free images.

All images are released under Creative Commons.  

This means you can copy, edit, and use the images you find on Pixabay without asking for permission or giving credits to the photographer—even for commercial purposes.

The image library is amazing.

Some are funny, some are weird, some are…well, frogs.

But you avoid a lot of the stock image look of many free image galleries.

Plus the library of images is huge and the search function is super helpful.

Pixabay will make your image search process that much easier and efficient.

Just don’t use the frog images.

Those are ours.

What Are Your Must-Have Productivity Tools?

Which productivity tools can you absolutely not go into 2018 without?

The 30-Day Communications Challenge begins on January 3.  Are you subscribed?

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Our company just switched from Skype to Slack so I appreciate all the helpful tips (those were great posts that I should revisit now). I like Boomerang for Gmail (free version) too.

    • Ohh…I’ve never heard of Boomerang! What does it do? Will definitely check it out!

      • It allows you schedule emails to be resent to you at a later time. At least that is what I use it for!

        Here’s their summary, “Boomerang adds scheduled sending and the easiest, most integrated email reminders to Gmail, helping you reach Inbox Zero.”

        • OOOOH! I used to have SendLater and then it stopped working when we switched our mail server over to Google. Yay! This sounds amazing! Thank you.

  • Daniel McCue

    Bullet Journal, FTW. I discovered Bullet Journal 5 years ago and it has done more to keep me organized an on-task than any other tool.

    All I need is a pen and a composition book!

    • OH yes! Gini loves the Bullet Journal as well. I use notebooks, but if I have something to write on I’ll doodle all over it…and then it loses the point. But there is all sorts of research over how much more effective actually writing stuff is for productivity and creativity. Good add!

  • Greg Mischio

    Wow – great list Laura. Thanks! We’ve been using Base Camp, but I know we’re not using it to its fullest capability. Heard some good things about Co Schedule from a content marketing perspective.

    • CoSchedule is amazing! It’s a really useful tool. And we also use Basecamp (but also don’t use it to it’s full ability). Project management tools are rough. It’s hard to find a perfect solution everyone loves.

  • Dawn Buford

    Slack = Most awesome tool ever! And Pixabay is the bomb (and please….steal the frogs).

    • So, don’t tell Gini this, but I tried to contact the photographer who does the frogs to see if I could commission him to do some just for us….but I never heard back. I’m super bummed, but I’ll keep trying.

  • All of the above AND my iphone’s reminders app. I could not live without it. It’s a life saver!

    • Hahah! I use Slack and Alexa reminders and also just schedule things in my calendar when need to be reminded. So I hear ya! ALL THE REMINDERS!!!

  • Erin Gleeson

    Trello! We do everything on trello- build to-do lists, ping each other for project updates/feedback, get a good view of how our workloads are looking…It’s invaluable.

    We’re also a remote team, and trello keeps us all on track and in sync. I’m a big fan of good project management tools, and so far that bucket only includes trello and Basecamp.