My digital nomad app toolkit

Bad wolf cafe

The technology we need as “digital nomads” has to be in the best of shape – backed up, in good repair and capable of work on the fly. After all, one stray latte can literally gum up the works.

Today I’m all about the applications I’ve been using to keep afloat while on the road. As a graphic designer/WordPress dev/blogger, it’s a crapshoot as to what I’ll see: Site down? Quick change on that proof? Today I’m at an awesome little Chicago Lakeview cafe called Bad Wolf Coffee. I’m streaming my own wifi, but the coffee, great music and daily-made pastries are making it a must. The standing tables… well, it’s better for me, right?

App happy

I feel like this list is a little redundant, since many of these are deemed ‘musts’ in other posts time and again. Maybe that’s because they ARE such musts. But I’ll add in how I’m using them in my workflow:

Evernote. Sometimes I alternate between this and a small book for client notes – depends on my mood and what’s closest at hand. But I find Evernote indispensable for code snippets I use often, and tutorials I reference. Since I also mystery shop from time to time, I keep my notes in here and even pull in receipt scans and photos. It’s not a foolproof system because syncing isn’t flawless or automatic (seemingly), but I find this is so much better than any other system out there.

Dropbox. I love the phone photo backup here over other systems, though I often have to clean out old photos I don’t need.

The true strength of Dropbox is in sharing files, including large comps that can’t be shared via email. I’m also relying on it more and more as a backup to my current mobile work files, and to my archives, when I can’t reference my mobile drive archives. I’ve learned enough times that several backups are the only safe way to keep my files safely backed up.

Mint. This app is a godsend for managing accounts, keep up to date and simply budget my money.

Hootsuite. Still my go-to for pushing out social media on a schedule, though the analytics are sometimes quite different from Twitter’s. It’s just super useful. I’m playing with the idea of downgrading to the free version.

Feedly. I’ve yet to see an RSS aggregator (i.e., place to keep all the blogs you read) that’s as clean and easy to read, and keep track of. It’s probably my most-used app, since I can push out posts to Hootsuite or Buffer and keep abreast of pretty much any topic.

Adobe Creative Suite. It’s a necessary evil, but it’s still the best for graphics work.

DesktopServer. This should probably go closer to the top, but it’s been key in my new website development workflow, as I’m trying to come off of my wifi dependency. Quite simply, I can create and deploy as many WordPress sites as I’d like, as well as servers, locally.

Trello. I’ve resigned myself to not yet finding the best task list app, but Trello is great for the big picture along with the minutiae. I still have a whiteboard at home and will admit to long handwritten lists at times, but Trello still houses so much. It’s great for collaboration too.

Apple Mail. The clunky mail is still my go-to choice, though it seems with every update I gain a few good features and lose a few, too. When I’m mobile on someone else’s computer, I use Google Mail (still a fan, for its spam fighting capabilities above all else). Right now I’m in a good place, keeping it light on the laptop and phone while still archiving everything with Google.

WinStreak. I’d not peg myself as a huge fan of the ‘gratitude’ movement, but writing down the accomplishments I’ve had daily is pretty damn awesome to come back to.

Paperless Post. When a plain ole ecard won’t do, but I want to say thank you. Just nice.

Waze. Because I find it gives the best routes, and I’m warned of upcoming traffic jams or accidents that may throw a big snag into my routes. Plus, I can share my route and my ETA, since traffic can be so unpredictable.

ParkChicago and SpotHero. These are much more local to Chicago or other metropolises, but they’re damned useful! Parking in a large city can be a huge pain, but this way I can prepare and not face a $48 charge for parking for 2 hours.

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