My Top 5 Indispensable Work Tools — 2019 Edition

Happy New Year, everyone! 🎉

Let’s get 2019 started right by going through a list of my current favorite apps and services I use everyday.

I’m a self-professed workflow and productivity junkie.

Searching around for ways to help me improve my work and decrease the amount of time I spend trudging through the muck of busy nonsense is one of my favorite activities. I love it.

On the other hand, you could accuse me of spending more time developing ways to make my work easier than spent actually doing the work that needs to be done.

I’d give you a knowing, friendly glare and say, “You’re absolutely right, person I’ve just met. Now, do you want to help me automate posting entries to my blog or what?”

However, being unproductively productive is a topic for another post.

What I do have time to talk about are the tools I rely on to do my work everyday.

These are the services and apps that Dandy Cat was built on. Without them, I’d just be a poor soul stranded on a deserted island in the middle of a vast ocean without any way to build a life raft.

I’d be lost and hopeless without them.

As with all things, my preferences are just suggestions. You can look into using all of them or you can brush them aside and make your own list of indispensable tools.

The key here, as with anything, is to find what works for you. Ultimately, the tool doesn’t matter. What you do with them is what’s going to make the difference.

That being said, I highly recommend checking out these things…

Affinity Designer

I was a longtime Adobe fan before stumbling on Serif’s line of design applications.

I mean, I was in. I had Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and even Illustrator whenever the mood struck. I think what they’re doing is, in some ways, very impressive.

Adobe’s subscription pricing never really bothered me (everyone’s got to earn a living somehow), but if I could get the same tools for a one time purchase, then why wouldn’t I jump at that chance?

Affinity Designer is the equivalent of Adobe Illustrator; they’re both vector design programs. However, I work on a Mac and Adobe’s never really cared much about making their Mac apps run as well as they should.

Affinity Designer is a program as capable as it is beautiful. They have their own suite of apps that cover photo processing — Affinity Photo — and desktop publishing — Affinity Publisher.

There’s no wasted space in Affinity Designer. There’s not a jumble of nonsense features just for the sake of a long feature list. It looks delightful. It’s crazy fast all the time. It’s just perfect. Best yet, they’ve got equivalent iOS apps for my iPad.

Affinity Designer costs just $50 and it’s yours forever. Learn more about it.


I’ve written a little bit about Ulysses in my post, Why I Love Markdown. Everything I wrote there still holds up — Markdown writing is the only way I want to write anything anymore.

Ulysses makes that possible.

It’s been my text editor of choice for a long time. Not only does it get the basics right from the very beginning, but it also presents one of the cleanest distraction-free writing experiences out there.

The creators of Ulysses just get it. You can tell that they’re all writers themselves.

Seeing a program like Microsoft Word is an unpleasant experience now. I get that it’s such a deeply ingrained program for most everyone, but that doesn’t mean a person should have to suffer through it.

I don’t want loads of user interface clutter fighting for my attention. I just want to write.

Ulysses has my back on that. Check it out.


I’ve tinkered around with Trello in the past, but it never clicked with me until I started having to manage large scale Dandy Cat Design projects.

Trello uses a Kanban style interface to visualize and manage any sort of project you can throw at it. In Trello’s case, it’s a system consisting of cards filled with tasks or content that can be moved between lists designating different stages of a project.

I’ve been using it to keep me on track and always on schedule with my website builds. I’ve got a list full of cards for each individual step I take in my design process. It keeps me from becoming a cluttered mess.

I’m also inviting my clients to their own private Trello board so they can have access to all the resources I’m providing them, give me the content I need, and see where I’m currently at with building their new website.

Trello has made the way I run my business a pleasure. Give them a try.

Google Apps

I’m talking about the G Suite line of apps here. These are Google-provided tools that help with so many facets of my business that it’s hard to count them these days.

The suite comes complete with the apps everyone‘s come to know and love (or tolerate, in some cases). Docs, Sheets, and Slides are all there. Calendar, too.

There’s a whole mess of business specific services that’s impressed me from day one. One example is the video calling tool they have — Google Meet. It’s an amazing video conferencing tool that I use to discuss projects directly with the client.

The icing on top of the cake is the ability to create my own personal business email. Having an “” email address provides me with a professional way to communicate.

There may be other similar services out there, but Google is currently the only one doing things the way it makes sense for me.


Apple Podcasts may always be the king of the podcast world, but that doesn’t mean I have to use their player.

If you want to step into the sweet world of third party podcast players, then Overcast is my emphatic suggestion. The app, developed by Marco Arment, has been the leader of the third party iOS podcast player pack since its inception.

I’ve listened to more hours of podcasts than I could ever hope to count. I’m currently subscribed to 36 of them. I make it a point to listen to just about every new episode each one produces.

Overcast’s ease of use and innovative features has made it a joy to use every time. I can’t imagine being able to get through my podcast inbox without features like “Smart Speed” or “Voice Boost.”

I highly recommend giving this joyful app a try. Download Overcast here.

This list isn’t what I would consider an exhaustive rundown of every program and service that I use to run Dandy Cat Design.

Frankly, that would make for a less than helpful post. What I have listed here are what I consider the essentials I need to run my business as it currently is.

I’m looking forward to making new lists as Dandy Cat Design continues to grow and develop. There are innovative and useful tools coming out all the time. I’m always on the lookout for ways I can speed up my workflow while also having some fun.

And I’m always interested in sharing new things with you.

Have a nice day, cats.

Always chasing that cozy feeling of being snuggled under a heap of warm blankets in a cold room. Also trying to find cats to pet 😻

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