12 Tools You Won’t Want to Live Without

By John R. Aberle | Business Systems

Apr 14
Screen capture of the Icon for your network connections

No matter whether you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur or solopreneur, time is the challenge we all face. Even though these tools won’t magically give you more than 24 hours in a day, it may feel like you got a rocket boost your time available to live a life besides work.

The following 12 products and services are my list of productivity tools not to be without:

  1. Canva
  2. Crowdfire
  3. Dragon Remote Microphone
  4. Evernote
  5. FocusMusic.fm
  6. Google Alerts
  7. Grammarly
  8. LastPass or RoboForm
  9. OneNote
  10. PrettyLink WordPress plugins
  11. Swipe by Nuance
  12. The Leverage Black Book

Reasons Each Product or Service Deserves to Be a Tool You Use


Screen capture of Canva.com sign up screen

1.  Canva

Canva is easy to use graphic design package that in its basic mode is free to use. There is a huge variety of free templates, backgrounds, icons, and images. You can even import your own images, whether pictures you took, ones you licensed or public domain images you downloaded.  Most of the images, backgrounds, or templates that have a price, the price is $1.00. You do want to carefully check the license agreement because some are not royalty-free.

For an example of how to use Canva to design an infographic, look at “How to Create an Infographic with Canva.”

Screen capture of Crowdfire suggested topic to share on social media

Crowdfire suggested topic to share on social media

2.  Crowdfire

Crowdfire is “Your super-smart marketing sidekick.” You give Crowdfire a list of topics that interest you and they return a list of current articles related to those interests for you to share in your social media marketing.

Screen capture of Dragon Remote Microphone on Google Play Store

Dragon Remote Microphone on Google Play Store

3.  Dragon Remote Microphone

This is one of the few tools in this article that cost more than a token amount to use. Actually, Dragon Remote Microphone itself is free. However, it requires Dragon Naturally Speaking to work as Dragon Remote Microphone is software for your iPhone or Android that turns your phone into a microphone in place of a headset.


Screen capture of the Icon for your network connections

Icon for your network connections


Screen capture of where to find your make this PC discoverable

Under your Properties for your network settings, where to find your make this PC discoverable


It is easy to install and works great. One caveat about how easy it is to install: You need to be sure that your network connection’s “Make this PC discoverable” is turned on. I suspect that Macintoshes have something similar to help prevent hackers getting into your computer.


Screen capture of Evernote editing collage

 Collage of two Evernote editing screens

4.  Evernote

Evernote is one of the two premier note programs on the Internet today. Its competitor, Microsoft OneNote is outstanding too and is included on this list because they have different strengths. Steve Dotto’s YouTube Review, “Evernote vs Onenote – 5 Key Differences,” made the same observation, pointing out after reviewing both products on five key points that he uses both constantly.

According to Steve Dotto, Evernote’s strengths lie in its ability to capture articles on the web and to take notes, tag your captures with keyword tags and search for the articles on the tags. While Evernote allows you to make notes, the editing is simpler being limited to rich text formatting. But the research is truly great because it captures the content allowing you to highlight, clip sections, and change font colors.

The biggest drawback for many users is that Evernote’s free account will only sync across two devices, e.g. a PC and a smartphone. After that, such as wanting to synchronize a tablet too, you will need a paid account. There is a further limitation in that the free account allows only 60 MB of new uploads per month.

Screen capture of FocusMusic.fm home page

FocusMusic.FM Home Page

5.  FocusMusic.FM

If you ever get distracted listening to the lyrics in music while you work, FocusMusic.fm is the solution for you as it allows you to choose from four channels of music without lyrics:

  • Electronic
  • Downtempo
  • Classical
  • Rain

When you are working in a noisy, public environment, e.g. Starbucks, a mall food court, or an airport, FocusMusic.FM can provide the “white noise” to enable you to focus on what you are doing, freed from the distraction of words.

Screen capture of Google Alerts email for news on Disney

Google Alerts email for news on Disney


6.  Google Alerts

Similar in concept to Crowdfire though executed vastly differently, Google Alerts allows you to select keyword phrases you want to track then emails you excerpts from the news posts on each of those topics daily. This is a free service from Google.

Screen capture of Grammarly Add-in Button for Use in Microsoft Office

Grammarly Add-in Button for Use in Microsoft Office 


7.  Grammarly.com

While Microsoft Word and Google’s Gmail do a respectable job at proofing spelling, they frequently fail at catching grammar mistakes. This is where Grammarly excels. Notice the comma error the above screen capture from Gmail.  “Grammarly is now free! But only on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox browsers.”

Screen Capture of "Get LastPass Free" page.

Get LastPass Free Screen


8.  LastPass (or RoboForm)

At its simplest level of password protected list, LastPass is free. If you want to have a synchronized password list across all of your devices, you will want the premium version for $1 per months, which is billed at $12 per year. I have used it for several years and been really pleased with it, only recently upgrading to the Premium so that I can use it on my phone and tablet as well.

An alternative to LastPass is RoboForm. Some people with multiple people needing to share portions of their URLs and passwords find RoboForm’s sophisticated sharing worth the investment.

OneNote collage showing editing with online OneNote over desktop OneNote

OneNote collage showing editing with OneNote Online over desktop OneNote

9.  OneNote

As discussed briefly above, OneNote is Microsoft’s premier note taking package. It is organized more like a physical notebook where you can write anywhere on the page. Its strength lies in your ability to create a number of notebooks with sections under each notebook followed by pages within each section.

For instance, my Sales & Marketing Notebook has the following sections:

  • Marketing Notes
  • Clipped Ideas – SWIPE File
  • Sales Notes
  • Email
  • Mobile
  • SEO
  • Internet Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Seminars
  • Deal Sites
  • Testimonial
  • Quizzes
  • Social Media
  • Press Releases
  • Blog Posts

Under each of those sections are pages that are screen captures or my own notes, which can include links to articles and documents, photos, URLs on the web, and drawings.

Editing Text in OneNote on the PC

OneNote on the PC really shines when it comes to your editing options, which include the major features available when writing in Microsoft Word:

  • Bold, Italicize, Underline
  • Bullets and Numbered Lists
  • Strikethrough, superscript, & subscript
  • Change alignment
  • Font choice and size
  • Font color
  • Highlighting
  • Increase and Decrease Indent
  • Styles (appears to be somewhat limited though compared to Word
  • Tag notes with “To Do,” “Important,” “Question,” and a variety of other pre-designed, graphic tags (NOT keyword tags like you have in Evernote though)


You can draw in OneNote using a stylus or fingertip. “Take handwritten notes and convert them to typed text later. Highlight what’s important and express ideas with colors or shapes.”

While the features of OneNote make it ideal for drafting ideas and even writing a finished document, you may find its most attractive feature is that it is free on all platforms: PC, smartphone, and tablet. “OneNote works on any device or platform.”


  • Desktop
  • Tablet
  • Phone


  • Mac
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Watch


  • Tablet
  • Phone
  • Wear


  • All Devices
  • Chromebook


Screen capture of Petty Link Lite WordPress Plugin Page

Pretty Link Lite WordPress Plugin Page

10.  Pretty Link Lite WordPress Plugin

While there are a multitude of link shortening services and plugins, you will find Pretty Link Lite is a very powerful redirection software package with the ability to create a large number of links which enables you to have a different link for every place you used it, e.g. blog post, Facebook social media post, Twitter post, Facebook ad, and more. In this way, you can track the effectiveness of your various efforts. Likewise, you can use Pretty Link to create a custom link so as to hide your affiliate link. Thus, nobody can take your link and cut off the affiliate information before it is used.

If you are a fairly sophisticated user, you may benefit from going straight to Pretty Link Pro.


Screen capture of Nuance's webpage on Swipe for Android

Nuance page for Swipe for Android

11.  Swipe Keyboard by Nuance for Android

By today’s standards, Android’s native ability to swipe is mediocre with a lot of correcting needed. If you use an Android smartphone, Nuance, the people who bring you Dragon Naturally Speaking, have their Swipe Android product that allows you to swipe, tap, dictate, and type. The swipe feature is so easy to use and incredibly accurate with a variety of suggested words in case you weren’t spot on accurate in your swiping. (While this link is provided for your further research, you will be able to obtain it from your Google Play store.

Screen capture of The Leverage Black Book Opt-in Page

The Leverage Black Book Opt-in Page

12.  The Leverage Black Book

The above tools will mainly improve your productivity. This final tool will enable you to take quantum leaps forward in your business, whether as a small business person, an entrepreneur or a solopreneur.  No matter how efficient you become, there is a limit to what you personally can accomplish. The key to making that quantum leap is leverage.

This free book, The Leverage Black Book, will help you get the right mindset and understanding to either start using leverage or to vastly improve your game. If you choose to take advantage of it, there is also a short course available to enable you to start applying the lessons in The Leverage Black Book immediately.

The author, Jack Humphrey, is eminently qualified to write this book. He is a successful, 18-year pioneer in Internet marketing. Today, among other endeavors, he is the Dean of Directions University and the co-founder of DUvisio, the affiliate network for all niches. Drawing on his wealth of experience in leveraging as well as on the expertise of his partner, Gina Gaudio-Graves, the JV (Joint Venture) Queen, Jack’s latest book is The Leverage Black Book.

Open your heart in selling,

John's digital signature written with mouse
John R. Aberle


Thank you for reading this far. If you made it this far, then you must be interested in maximizing your return on your time and effort. The secret to eking out the most value or return on the investment of your time lies in learning to apply leverage. Get your free copy of The Leverage Black Book. The lessons yield immeasurable rewards for those who read and apply them.


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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.