Everybody works differently. And I find it interesting to understand how other people use the common tools.
My personal productivity tools and workflow are as follows:
I use Google as my homepage simply because it is the thing I do most with my browser and it makes sense from a productivity point of view.
I use Chrome as my browser (i.e. Google’s own browser) because I feel it takes up the least real estate on my screen. Many of my most frequented sites sit as shortcuts on the browser bar – and of course if I open a new tab I have the most frequently visited sites there too.
I have customised my homepage to also include a (free app) that picks my Google Reader feeds. I use Google Reader quite simply – just to pick up RSS feeds of blogs.
I don’t share, I don’t ‘star’ items and I don’t follow trends. Every morning I scan through the headlines in my reader (about 120 blogs) and read about 20%-30% in the little app.
- I don’t visit the actual site.
- If a blog posts only partial feeds (e.g. the first paragraph) then I unsubscribe – with the exception of 3 blogs.
- After my morning scan, I CLEAR all unread posts. During the day, as new posts emerge, I will either read it (it seems interesting and I have time) or clear it immediately.
I use Outlook for business. And I use Gmail for signing up for newsletters, signing to offers and generally online activity – including most of the cloud apps mentioned in this post. Gmail is fantastic. It’s spam control is outstanding.
We may map our POP3 accounts to Gmail now that we have NBN and then abandon Outlook altogether.
My INBOX is almost always empty. At worst I may have 2-3 emails which are pending.
Contrary to most people’s advice, I scan emails constantly and respond almost immediately. It is not distracting to me and it relieves the ‘pressure’ on me to know that there is nothing that is awaiting my attention. I also use this as a ‘mental break’ from what I am doing at the moment. Or maybe I just have a short attention span.
I started off with Wordpress – and still recommend clients to use Wordpress.
I actually use Squarespace for my own website because I can do more with it than I can with the ‘free’ Wordpress. I find that downloading Wordpress.org and then adding apps as you see fit is probably the best technological solution, but seems to require more tech savvy than I am prepared to risk with my site. The Squarespace solution gives you more functionality than Wordpress at the drag-and-drop skill level; but it is not optimised for mobile. So I may have to revert to Wordpress again.
Once a week I bill clients (if I have a bill that week) and I use this cloud app. It is free – and it gives me great pleasure to use it for obvious reasons. It also allows me to customise and track my invoices. I don’t do my own BAS/TAX and never fully mastered MYOB, and whilst I can issue invoices easily enough, it is too tedious compared to BillingBoss.
My To DO list – also free, also in the cloud. Simple, clean and functional. A to do list should be low maintenance and this one is.
This is my social media dashboard. I use the free version because, being in a B2B environment where social media use is at the low end for my clients, it does not seem to make a lot of sense to spend too much time on social media for business reasons. My own use is therefore semi-social and for professional development reasons rather than growing my own business.
I don’t track stats, and keep an eye on 3 streams (#retail #marketing and #lms). Most of it is rubbish, and I get most value out of direct conversations.
I do not auto-follow and I don’t automate anything. I always tweet live. I follow people judiciously if I think they have something of value to offer, and I follow everyone back to whom I could possibly add value. This way I feel I can get to ‘know’ the people on Twitter.
I do promote my blogposts, but I do not sell anything.
I use the free, cloud application to share files with remote contacts and to back up files and presentations when I go on the road.
It is wonderfully simple, but causes me problems when trying to sync my networked folders.
Since we got the NBN, I am re-visiting this and currently exploring SugarSync – and I like it so far. It also has a cool Android app.
Strictly professional. I like to actually know the people I have connected with, but I am happy to accept people on the list even if we have only connected via the internet (e.g. blog readers.)
Strictly family and friends.
I have obviously reserved the pages for Ganador and RetailSmart, but do not use these to promote my business. I think Facebook is suited to B2C conversations, but not B2B relationships unless clients are actually friends – as it happens.
I use the free, cloud application to transfer big files to people who are not connected or cannot (corporate firewalls) connect to Dropbox.
I like that it is free, but more importantly, I like that they don’t spam me constantly to sign up.
I use the free, cloud application for screensharing – if the other person does not have skype, or cannot find the screensharing option on their version of Skype.
We also use that in our online academy when ‘conferencing with students.
As I am sure everyone does.
This is the simplest way do screen recordings I have ever come across. Once again, I use the free, cloud version. (We also use the professional product – Articulate- from the same company to create eLearning modules.
The cool thing about Screenr is that, once you have published your screencast, you can download it as a MP4 and then upload it to YouTube. (See below.)
I have a channel on YouTube (click on the link) and much of the content is based on Screenr downloads.
They have recently relaxed the 10min max, so I could upload a 40min speech I gave recently. Check it out.
This is my newsletter service. It is a cloud based app – but not free. It offers much more (including event management etc.) but I use it for my own as well as for client newsletters.
It is easy to use. I left them recently and tried an Aussie-based service (www.newsletter.com.au) , but their template system was hard works and made it difficult to align images properly.
I dabbled with – and will be doing more of that soon at http://www.comm100.com/ - you see I like the ‘free’ bit because I can recommend it to SMEs who have tight budgets (or are tight arses ;-))
Last but not least, this is my favourite place to rant – and say the things I can’t say in a business environment. Enough said…
I am registered on a host of other online tools/ services. Some of these that I occasionally use (maybe once a month) are:
What about you?