(0a) Favorite Tools


As a student scholar, I have found several software programs to be extremely helpful. Below, I list:

  1. tools that are most high-leverage for me, personally;
  2. the complete list of my favorite software tools; and
  3. a final section that shares my impression of new-to-me tools.

I plan to keep this content largely in short list form. As I get the chance, I will group software listed in the complete list by type/function, give the groups headings, and add more links.

Take care!

Most High-leverage for Me (as of April 14, 2014)

  • OneNote (please see my post here, which includes a free, customizable, downloadable OneNote digital binder set up for student scholars)
  • SpiderOak (24/7 data backup . . . There has been recent talk that DropBox is not the most secure. You might look into Box or SpiderOak as an alternative.)
  • Liquid Planner (to generate a reverse calendar; free educational subscription was available at the time I used it)
  • Watership Planner (for project, schedule, and task management; works with Outlook; reduced price for students was available; for Windows PC only but reading through the web site pages is an EXCELLENT education in project, process, schedule, and task management)
  • Mendeley
  • Citavi
  • Scrivener
  • Docear: See this videoXMind or Freeplane are alternatives if you don’t need the PDF annotation extraction features or the option to super easily toggle back and forth between a vertical, linear view of the map and a branching, “concept mappish” view of the same content. XMind does display an (additional) outline view of your mind map, no matter how you have the actual mind map configured in the main map editor window.
  • PDF XChange Viewer: Solves all of my OCR-related headaches, and Docear imports/extracts annotations and highlighted notes therein and places them on a mind map. Note: Docear does not yet play well with the new version of the Viewer called PDF XChange Editor.
  • Edraw Max
  • Livescribe pen, notebook, and desktop software (especially if you don’t have a hand-writing or inking -enabled tablet or laptop)
  • CutePDF Writer (free; install a PDF printer onto your computer so that anytime you
  • Orkanizer (for not just implementing the pomodoro technique but doing S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros toward increasing my level of writing affinity, if not toward full development of writing addiction 😉 )
    NOTE: Some advise using the pomodoro technique only for NON-WRITING tasks and advise simply setting aside 2 hours for writing time . . . 50 minutes on, 10-minute break, 50 minutes on, 10-minute wrap up . . . for writing that does not include note-taking and reading)

The Complete List of Favorite Tools

  • Amazon Cloud Player
  • Amazon Video Library (rentals and purchases)
  • Audible
  • Be Limitless (for Google Chrome). Sometimes the positive messages and gorgeous scenes in my browser are RIGHT ON TIME. And I like keeping my main goals displayed in front of me. Still needs a little work, but the messages and scenes render it worth the wait. Aside: I learned of my favorite blog from a Be Limitless message.
  • Camtasia
  • Citavi
  • CutePDF Writer (free; install a PDF printer onto your computer so that anytime you print something, you have the option of printing it to PDF)
  • Docear (phenomenal if you get over the “look” and get into greater functionality)
  • Dropbox or Box
  • EditRocket
  • Edraw Max
  • Freeplane
  • Gimp
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Docs
  • HD Scanner (turns phone photos into PDFs)
  • Hulu. Free yourself from the pull of the schedule of TV programs. Be more strategic in watch you watch. Watch on your own time schedule.
  • Java
  • Kindle Reader
  • Livescribe (will use sparingly once I obtain a digital tablet and pen)
  • Livescribe Desktop
  • Mendeley (indispensable)
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • MovieMaker
  • MS Excel
  • MS OneNote (very, very, very high-leverage in any environment, and even more efficient in the Windows 8.1+ environment with the easy drag and drop; please see my post here, which includes a free, downloadable OneNote digital binder set up for student scholars)
  • MS PowerPoint
  • MS Word
  • PDF XChange Editor for non-Docear PDF work
  • PDF XChange Viewer for PDF work with Docear
  • Peazip
  • Penzu.com
  • Prezi
  • Scrivener. Indispensable if you make the “right” usage of the many, many, many features and leave those you don’t need alone. One “move” is to make an outline of your planned paper, create a template with it as base, and then create all sorts of files based on the template, such as a “Write/Reflect Daily” file for the paper, a “just brainstorming” file, a “note-taking” file, a “raw draft” file, a “a spark file” for the paper, etc. Some of these you may want to integrate into the same Scrivener file. It depends on how you like to juxtapose work from different stages of writing.
  • Skype (collaborate: send files, video phone, etc.)
  • Snagit. Snag text, images, etc. For example, snag text images from digital books, etc. Make a video screen capture. Indispensable because Snagit Editor is indispensable.
  • Snagit Editor (incredibly awesome image editor)
  • SpiderOak (zero-knowledge 24/7 backup)
  • Spotify
  • SuperNotecard
  • WordPress
  • XMind (phenomenal)
  • YouTube with YouTube’s Playlist Creator/Manager. Categorize your writing help videos, inspirational music, videos for comic relief, etc. Into playlists.

Featured: Watership Planner

Watership Planner facilitates personal goal, project, process, schedule, list, and task management that is astonishingly effective and impactful. The design and functionality of this product and its website–particularly the documentation manual–have STUNNED me. Just reading the website pages is very impactful, which is rare.

To get started, I’d say browse the site. If interested, print out the pertinent manual pages, trial it, and email any questions to the developer. He’s very responsive and helpful. Ask for the educational discount if you qualify, work through the medium-ish level learning curve, and watch your awareness–and consequently the effectiveness of your real-time task decision-making–improve.

I can’t TELL you how great it felt to dump all of my tasks, ideas, little things I need to do, big overarching goals, milestones, etc., etc. into one system that coordinates them all and spits out a schedule that I can tweak all day as I make decisions and that advances down the page as time passes! I’m floored. The other day I set an alarm and attached to it the command to open a document when the alarm went off. An hour later the alarm goes off, the file opens up and displays, and I’m switching gears to stay on task. I looooooove it. In this program you are to log time on task (via the timer or via manual entry), and it rocks that your schedule revises as you put in time against a time estimate (you can bypass of this if you like). I could go on and on about the multiplicity of pointed features in this software. But . . .

Bottom line: In my opinion, this is an INCREDIBLE piece of software at the game changer level. It’s what many of us have been waiting for in planning, self-leadership, and project and schedule management. Knocks all else that I’ve trialled (and I’ve trialled a lot of these) out of the water, in my humble opinion. The developer maintains a vision for Watership Planner’s continued development that he shares at the website. Well, WELL worth a look.


1 thought on “(0a) Favorite Tools

  1. Hi there! Appreciated your post on another forum discussing Mendeley. I’m in my PhD write up phase and don’t have access to endnote on my personal computer, though I do have Mendeley (but havent used it much, other than for keeping my pdfs). I would ideally like to be able to have separate bibliographies for each chapter. I noticed you wrote that you don’t use mendeley for references, but rather for storing and handling your pdfs. a) do you not recommend using mendeley at all for referencing purposes? and if so is there another good free software available? b) do you know if mendeley can set up more than bibliography in the same doc? Thanks so much for your time!! keep up the good work!

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