Over the course of a year, I try to make notes of the things that make an impact on me. Sometimes, my notes are about a city I visited that captured a piece of my heart. Often they're just of apps that worked really well for me or books that resonated. These things are usually stored and tracked in a million different places — iPhone notes, notes in whatever notebook I try to use consistently before getting 1/18th of the way through it and ditching it, notes in email — but I realized that if they're truly good, I don't need to keep notes of them… I'll still be using them, thinking of them, and recommending them by the end of the year. Inspired partly by my good friend Cait's favourite things post, I wanted to share some of mine with you. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!
5 Favourite Reads
I didn't read nearly as much this year as I did last, and what I did read didn't all relate to productivity, marketing, or work like 2015. But I did read some gems over the past year.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport: Something we should all do more of, and that I'm incorporating more of in my life.
- Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson: Great, bite-sized business advice from tech entrepreneurial greats.
- The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal: Just a really interesting read about the science behind willpower, how to manage your willpower and how to get more of it.
- Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue by Christia Spears Brown: Gender stereotypes suck (and are usually incredibly misguided). Must-read if you're a parent, a parent-to-be, or believe in equality.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown: I read this book in 2015, but I re-read it in 2016 because it left a huge impression. This is a must read for anybody who wants to get more done and lead a better, more intentional life.
5 Favourite Tools and Apps
I started out 2016 by cutting back on all the apps I was using for a more simplistic approach. I searched for apps that did more than one thing or cut out the apps I didn't need or use regularly. I could always download them again in the future if I decided I needed them – I just wanted to get rid of digital clutter. These ones prevailed, though, and I still use them all the time.
- Focused: A no-frills writing app to block out all distractions. I used to use Byword – still a great option – but this has been working for me this year. Not the same as the next app…
- Focus: By far the best app I've come across for productivity. It blocks websites and forces you to focus on the work you need to get done, distraction-free. Not as complicated as alternatives like RescueTime.
- Edgar: Edgar is a social media management tool, allowing you to create a library of social posts that it cycles through on whatever schedule you set. Like having an employee!
- TripIt: I used this app constantly on my phone this year, because I travelled so much. It groups all of your travel itineraries in one place so you don't have to hunt for everything in your inbox.
- Pocket: I'm late to the game, but I just started using Pocket this year to save and organize articles I enjoyed. This makes it super easy to share them, too.
5 Popular Articles
I write a lot. Some of it is junk. Some of it is decent. And sometimes (very rarely), I crank out a piece that's not only publishable but also becomes super popular. Usually those pieces take me by surprise, but over 2016 I became better at reverse engineering popular content before I even start writing. Here are a few of the most popular things I wrote over the past year.
- Drive Massive Traffic with Instagram Marketing: A Sumo-Sized Guide: This guide was based off of my marketing experiment to grow SumoMe's account to 50,000 followers in 90 days — it raked in over 7,500 email subscribers and lots of fame and glory (or something like that ;))
- Growing a Site from 0 to 10k Visitors in a Month: Noah Kagan Edition: SumoMe's founder took on an apprentice to grow a brand new website quickly without any connections, marketing budget or special advantages. The experiment succeeded, and I wrote an article about it.
- The 2-Step Process to Guaranteed Success with Anything: It's not as complicated as you might think.
- 49 Headline Formulas to Skyrocket Conversions (And Where to Use Them): Headlines are incredibly important. I wrote about how to write them. It's collected almost 6,000 social shares (and getting more every day).
- How To Get Featured on Large Publications (Without Guest Posting): Where I show readers step-by-step how to grow their traffic and email lists through republishing.
2016 was a busy but interesting year for me. At times it was overwhelming and intense, and other times was productive, refreshing and slow. I didn't read as much as I wanted to, I didn't write as consistently on Unsettle as I wanted to, but I still achieved a lot and I hope these resources help you achieve a lot too, as we go into another year 🙂 Happy New Year!