My Personal Toolkit

Oz-Personal-Non-UX-Toolkit

I often get asked what tools I use on a day to day basis outside of UX. On this page I share with you an personal list of the tools I absolutely cannot live without. Feel free to comment with your own suggestions. Alas, here’s my toolkit:

Storage:

Over the past year I’ve switched from Dropbox completely to Copy. This is nothing against Dropbox – its UI and user flows are beautiful. However, I feel like Copy gives me 99% of what I like in Dropbox, but with a ton more space.

UX-Beginner-Copy-Screenshot

Copy has a robust app for both iOS and Android, and its transfer speeds are awesome. I use it to store a ton of my own projects, the entire Google Fonts directory, and big tutorial video files.

All users start off with a standard 15GB of free space, which is 7.5x more storage than Dropbox’s measly free 2GB. But I managed to rack up 75GB of free Copy space over the last year by referring others to Copy. It’s been easy because if I refer someone, they earn an extra 5GB (20GB from my link) instead of the normal 15GB, and I earn an additional 5GB as well.

Here is my Copy referral link if you want to get 5GB more space.

Reminder: you do have to finish the whole sign up process (confirm email, sign up account, and install Copy on your computer or mobile) in order to get this free extra 5GB.

Password Management:

If you’re still entering passwords by memory, for each different site…you are literally wasting hours (days?) each year. Forgetting and figuring out passwords is a pain in the ass. Over 3 years ago, I discovered LastPass and have been using it ever since to automatically fill out the sign-up fields of any site I want.

UX-Beginner-Lastpass-Screenshot

Gotta log in to the Hyatt credit card account I use once only twice a year? No problem, LastPass remembers it. Forgot the password to one of my 7 Gmail accounts? Ain’t no thang. LastPass has literally saved my butt. on multiple occasions. I give it my highest recommendation.

Protect your Eyes: 

TimeOut

TimeOut has saved my eyes. It’s a Mac-only program that forces a screensaver every X minutes, reminding you to rest your eyes and look away from the screen.

UX-Beginner-TimeOut-Screenshot

Tip: in Preferences, turn off “Micro Time Outs.” Under Normal -> Timer, I set my working duration to 20 minutes, then Time Out for 1 minute. This means that every 20 minutes, TimeOut activates and I have to rest my eyes for a minute. And repeat.

I don’t use it much, but there’s a handy Exclusions feature in case there are programs you’re using when you don’t want TimeOut to activate.

Windows users don’t despair, EyeDefender is what you’re looking for. The main drawback is that EyeDefender is easy to close whereas I haven’t figured out how to just quit TimeOut when the rest break initiates. Which is a good thing for my eyes.

F.lux

This neat app filters out the blue light produced by computer screens. It activates the blue light filter according to the sunset time in your area. So in the evenings, you’ll see a gradual transition in the color of your display. At first it looks jarring, and everything looks a orange. Give it 5 minutes and your eyes will adjust quickly.

UX-Beginner-TimeOut-Screenshot

 

Shut off F.lux suddenly at night and you’ll see the shocking blue light that comes through.

Why use it? It’s kinder on your eyes, and blue light suppresses melatonin production – which is essential for getting to sleep.

Both TimeOut and F.lux are “set it and forget it” apps. No maintenance needed :)

Productivity:

Limit Tabs

Because We’ve all done it. Have a ridiculous amount of tabs open “just in case,” to such an extent that we forget which tabs are what, making it harder to actually achieve the action we need. Tab hoarding!

 

I use a Chrome extension to limit the # of tabs I open. I usually set it at 5 tabs. If I really need to focus, I’d set the # of tabs lower, or just close out Chrome altogether. If I try to open a new tab over the limit, this simple message shows up:

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Pomodoro

If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique before, it’s a methodology to help increase focus by separating working 25 minute chunks, break for 5 minutes, repeat again.

UX-Beginner-Pomodoro-One-Screenshot

There’s a ton of Pomodoro sites and apps, but the ones I keep going back to are Tomatoi.st (Website) and Pomodoro One (Mac App).

Noisli

Some people like their white noise. A lot. Personally, the hum of a coffee shop hits the sweet spot between distracting music and dead silence.

UX-Beginner-Noisli-Screenshot

 

I like using Noisli and turning on the buttons for coffee, rain, and some thunder. Thunder makes anything epic.

Instapaper

This is an unexpected productivity tool. I use Instapaper to save links using their handy “Read Later” button, but I don’t actually go back to read the links that often. How I think of services like Instapaper is that they satisfy my urge to read something, instead of wasting my time reading something I don’t need to at the moment.

UX-Beginner-Instapaper-Screenshot

Instapaper helps clears my “mental RAM”; I feel secure in knowing something is safe for me to return to later, and I can get on to other more important tasks.

Writing Apps:

OmmWriter

OmmWriter is a writing experience. It makes the writing experience minimalist, focused, and even poignant through some really small touches. The most important feature is that it takes up your entire screen space. Not even the notification bar. Nothing except a nice canvas in front of you to start writing.

Immediately upon opening OmmWriter, you are greeted with wonderful mood music that you can listen to for hours. There are several tracks to listen to, or you can just turn the sound off. People like the music so much you can find the entire soundtrack floating on the internet.

UX-Beginner-OmmWriter-Screenshot

You also get to choose different keystroke sounds, which I really like. It mimics the experience of typing on a typewriter. I don’t know, it’s just these little touches that make OmmWriter come alive. When my focus is very low or I need to write something personal, I invariably pop up OmmWriter.

For all other document creation, I use Google Drive

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