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Tricks & Treats: The Big List of Productivity Tools

By October 8, 2015June 19th, 2017No Comments

My eyelids drooped, and I struggled to keep them open. I hadn’t had any real sleep in days. It was too dangerous for me to rest; if I took even the shortest of naps, I’d be done for.

Just then, the clock struck midnight. My heart began to race as I realized what time it was. Panic rose inside me. Over the last few hours, the darkness had been creeping from the corners of the room, and now all I could see was the shadows looming around me.

“Why me?!” I shouted to the darkness. “Why am I staying up this late to get work done AGAIN!?”

Maybe if you hadn’t left everything to the lasssstttt minuteeee, I heard a voice whisper.

My eyes darted around the room, and I saw all the things that were haunting me: the dishes in the sink, the unfinished knitting project, the Netflix DVD I hadn’t returned, and the most evil of all my demons…my never-ending, ever-growing to do list.

It had me working way past my bedtime just to catch up, and it made me feel overwhelmed and anxious because of all the tasks on it that weren’t yet done.

It had started as a simple to do list a few days before, but as it grew, it had gotten overwhelming. I started procrastinating, putting things off for as long as possibly, and eventually having to work late into the night to get it all done.

And when I wasn’t working, I felt guilty. That made me procrastinate even more.

After one-too-many late nights spent feeling resentful and unhappy, I decided I’d get organized.

Why Get Organized?

Getting organized can be scary. It seems impossible to find the time, the energy, or the right “style” to ensure you keep up with whatever new system or philosophy you set up.

But being organized has a huge benefit: it increases our performance, which in turn enhances our capacity to further our vision. It’s a solid support we can lean on no matter how challenging or fast-moving our projects are.

It’s also deeply tied to personal ecology. When we’re in control of our schedule and tasks, we’re also in control of the time we spend outside of the office, which is a key piece to sustaining ourselves over a lifetime of work.

So, in honor of National Get Organized Week (and the spooky month of October), we’ve compiled a big list of tricks & treats to help you get organized — at home, at work, and within yourself.

And what about my terrifying tale? It actually has a happy ending: after experimenting with all different kinds of organization systems and tools, I found something that worked beautifully for me, and I still use it today. What helped most of all was that I didn’t try and do everything at once; I did a little bit all the time. If something was really daunting, or if I just didn’t have hours to focus on it, I would set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and do however much I could in that time.

Good luck! If you do start getting organized, share it with us in the comments!

Tips & Tools from Rockwood’s blog

Tips & Tools from Other Sources


  • Task Management – Two popular and easy-to-use ones are Asana and Trello, but there are tons of different ones out there, for personal use, teams, and even families/couples.
  • Google Apps – you’re probably at least a little familiar with Google apps (which includes Gmail, Google Drive, etc.), but did you know it can be used as a serious productivity tool?
  • Evernote – If you’re not that into Google, or you want an all-in-one solution, Evernote is a streamlined option that’s also available on mobile.
  • Tomato Timer – this is actually an accessory to the Pomodoro Technique, but could be used as a simple timer to help you stay focused.
  • me – unsubscribe from all of those pesky promotional emails in one fell swoop.
  • Feedly – if you spend a lot of time reading blogs or websites every day, Feedly brings them all together in one place, and allows you to organize them for future reference (if you’re looking for a way to organize research or resources, try Pocket).
  • Buffer – a wonderful tool to help you manage your social media without having to spend a lot of time on it.
  • White Noise – if music is too distracting, try Coffeetivity, Rainymood, or SimplyNoise.
  • IFTTT – this is a nifty little webapp that allows you to set up automatic processes with some of the most popular websites (I use it to get a head’s up on the next day’s weather so I can dress appropriately).


  • CompassPoint – a great blog filled with resources specifically geared towards nonprofits and people in social change movements.
  • Lifehacker – this blog can get a bit on the techy side sometimes, but it’s full of advice on everything from buying a home, to decluttering your space, to working out.
  • Zenhabits – a father and writer shares his journey to simplifying his life.
  • Gretchen Rubin – an author and podcaster offers her insights on productivity, organization, habits, and more.
  • Tanveer Naseer – focused on nonprofit leadership, this blog has endless tips for team-building, management skills, purpose, and vision.
  • Beth Kanter – concrete tools, tips, and more for nonprofit leaders.
  • 99u – a collection of creative, big picture stuff to inspire you, get you out of a rut, or help you think outside the box.

Got a favorite blog, resource, or tip for organization? Share it with us!

Rockwood Community Call

Cecily Rose Engelhart

Master Certified Life Coach, Speaker, and Designer

September 28 | 12 PT / 3 ET