Eleven tools for working smarter

I’m not really an app person, but I’m loyal to a few things that work well. Here are 11 tools that help me as a journalist.

For better reading:

1. Pocket for iPhone. I use this to save links. It’s fast, free and straightforward.

2. IFTTT. (“If this, then that.”) This is a little tool for setting up cause-and-effect relationships on the Internet. I used to check some websites every day — things like government meeting agendas and court rulings. Now IFTT sends me an email whenever those pages are updated. I followed this blog post by Colin Schimmelfing to set up my IFTTT recipe.

3. Circa for iPhone. Come for the beautiful design, stay for the solid news judgment.

4. OneTab for Google Chrome. For when your browser has been overtaken by a thousand and one feral Internet tabs. You will, of course, get around to reading them all someday.

5. Feedly. The way to follow RSS feeds after the demise of Google Reader (rest in peace).

For better reporting:

6. AudioNote. If I could, I would hire my own personal intern just to transcribe interviews for me. Short of that, my current favorite app for recording interviews and meetings is AudioNote. You can take notes while recording (for example, to make note of an important quote). Then, during playback, tap any word in the notes to return to that part of the audio file. This saves transcription time.

7. Gmail’s Canned Responses.
For when you find yourself sending the same type of email over and over. Save your fingers some typing.

8. Evernote and/or Google Drive.

9. Open States (website or iPhone app).
Keep tabs on what’s happening in state government, track bills and find legislators. Built by Sunlight Foundation.

For better writing:

10. Any online timer. Sure, this isn’t rocket science, but it’s a lifesaver on deadline. If I’m really desperate, I’ll go to Write or Die and set it on Kamikaze Mode. That usually does the trick.

11. Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 5. Not all writing tools are electronic.

There, now you know my secrets. Use them responsibly.

Update 2.5.15: I’m a bit giddy to see that journalismtools.io recently asked 30 journalism experts about this same topic. Check out their responses.

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