• Ellen Cresswell

The productivity tools that run my life

Updated: May 21, 2020

I’ve been running Digital Manifesto, for almost six months. Being my own boss is fun, challenging and super rewarding. It also means I have to wear many hats: that of my core business, but also admin, operations and finance to name a few. Now, more than ever, I rely some critical tools to run my business, and my life.

Some I’ve used for years, others are relatively new to me. All help me know what’s going on with various aspects of my business and personal life.


I’ve loved this app for years and am using more than ever. It seamlessly syncs across my many devices: Android phone, iPad, MacBook and the PC I’m currently using at a client site. Notes are organised, searchable and never get lost.


A Kanban wall for, literally, every aspect of my life. In truth, I use this far more for my personal life than for the work side of things. I have used Trello to plan house moves, holidays and parties. I use a board for high-level business planning too.


A great video and audio conferencing service that just works. I spent an extraordinary amount of time on conference calls in a previous role and typically the audio quality was terrible making it virtually impossible to follow the conversation. Not so with Zoom. It’s simple and effective. That said, I’ve been using Microsoft Teams a lot lately too and that’s really giving Zoom a run for its money, particularly thanks to its Sharepoint integration and chat feature. I think Teams will really challenge Slack in the corporate environment thanks to its simple integration across the rest of the Microsoft stack.


This tool lets me have constant conversations with friends and family living over the world. Owned by Facebook, its privacy features leave a lot to be desired, but on the whole it’s a simple and effective way to stay in touch with people.


Software that makes accounting easy. There’s also an app for recording expenses when I’m out and about, which reduces the pain when it comes to month-end reconciliation.

Bullet journal

OK, so this is not an online tool but this is probably the most useful tool for me. Not only is the bullet journal a beautiful notebook, it’s an effective method of planning, tracking and journaling. I remember more when I physically write things down. There’s something deeply meditative about putting pen to paper, too.

Naturally there are other tools I use frequently, like the Microsoft Office suite, but I've listed the ones which add the most value to my day-to-day life and business needs.

I'd love to hear of any other tools that you think belong on this list. I'm always keen to discover new ones.