It seems today we are all busier than ever squeezing in the tasks that need doing, being somewhere we need to be and meeting people. Being busy is good, but being productive is king. Below I’ll share the best productivity tools I can’t live without for everyday business activities and accomplishing important daily tasks.
With business, book marketing, book sales, word of mouth and everyday communication increasingly being done online and in the cloud, it’s paramount to be mindful of being efficient and productive. A large part of this comes down to the application tools we use and some of these tools below will help you do just that.
For those unsure of what ‘cloud computing’ is, in a nutshell, it’s where information, data and communications are used and shared online often working through your internet browser. The information and data can be synced and accessed instantly from a variety of devices like your PC, laptop or smart phone. No more headaches of installing and matching software, swapping out USB sticks and burning dvd’s.
- Gmail: A time saver, sanity saver, outlook killer and scalable for any level of user. I’ve used most email apps and Gmail is by far the best. It’s light, easy to use yet very powerful. You have the choice of tweaking hundreds of options or running the bare bones account you start with. One of the highlights is ‘Labs‘ where you can add extensions or plugins that will improve productivity such as multiple in-boxes for multiple email addresses, send & Archive in one, undo send and more. You can access it from any computer any time. What’s more, is you can set-up a separate sub inbox for your multiple websites email addresses and re-route them all into your Gmail account and send and reply as each respective unique email address. Brilliant!
- Google Apps – Calendar, Docs: With the one Google Account you can access Gmail and the other free apps. Efficiency and productivity and keeping all the needs of users confined to one place to do what they need was Google’s aim with creating Google Apps. Along with Gmail is Google Calendar. I use calendar daily both on my PC, laptop and iPhone. To-Do’s, meetings and events can be scheduled with a couple of clicks on my iPhone any time. When I’m back in the office I pull up calendar and it’s all synced and I can see everything in front of me. It’s easy to use and customisable.Google docs is almost a replacement for the Microsoft office suite. I say almost because every now and then I need to do some heavy lifting with document and eBook creation that can only be done in Word. I’m using Google Docs more and more for every day tasks like project documents, client documents, website research and more. The huge feature of instantly collaborating on the one document with multiple people is really what holds huge productivity value. Seeing someone else type in the same document from the other side of the world is still amazing.
- Remember the Milk: There are several ‘To-do’ applications out there available and I’ve tried a few. The best thing about Remember the Milk, apart from the cool name is it’s compatible with Gmail and Google Calendar. Remember, it’s about being efficient and saves me from having to install another separate program. You can update your tasks list online from Milk’s online dashboard or any of your compatible devices including your iPhone, for creating new tasks or meeting reminders on the run.
- Google Chrome: As far as internet browsers go, Google’s Chrome is simply awesome. I love that it’s lightweight in operation, clean, simple and efficient. It has the ability to install additional features like video savers, taking screenshots and instant notes. It’s biggest competitor would be Firefox which some people would be familiar with, but I find FireFox a drag with it’s lengthy load times and memory overhead. For those writers and authors who are still stuck in the stone age with the awful, cringeworthy Internet Explorer, do yourself the favour and install Chrome. You can easily import your I.E bookmarks in a jiffy as well. Trust me, you won’t look back.
- Skype: Earlier this year Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 Billion, yes that’s a ‘B’. After email it’s my primary communication tool. It’s free and very versatile. It’s standard text chat messaging feature is where you chat just like windows messenger or Facebook. You can leave messages for contacts who are offline and they’ll get that message the next time they log in. You can voice call providing you have a microphone, with good quality. I use it for client communication, consulting and often use it to call friends and family for free. It also has the video chat feature if you have a webcam. With an additional recorder application you can record video chat sessions and interviews with anyone, anywhere in the world. The days of landlines are all but over.
- Last Pass: This goes hand in hand with every application here. Last Pass is probably the biggest productivity booster I’ve ever had. It securely saves all your sensitive identity and login info. This is an application that plugs right into your browser and saves all your login info including passwords, web account details, software keys and more. It’s all stored encrypted in a vault and decrypts on the fly when your browser requests a login such as accessing Gmail. A little bar at the top of your browser automatically shows asking you to ‘auto fill‘ or ‘auto login‘. If your like me and have hundreds of login’s this is essential. Before this I had a notepad with this info, then on post-it’s and it all gets messy. I’m sure you know what I talking about. This app saves me roughly 35-40 minutes a day with added peace of mind. It’s free, highly secure, be sure to get it
- Evernote: I use this for all the remainder tasks and things I do outside of the above apps. Evernote is very powerful and can be used for both Mac and PC. I use it to brainstorm ideas, bookmarks, leave notes, save interesting articles and posts to read for later, newly discovered web links to return to later for a closer look and more. You can use it to store uploaded photos from your iPhone. I’ve just begun capturing my receipts and immediately uploading them to Evernote. You can install the app on your PC, laptop, access it on your iPhone and through your Evernote website account dashboard.
As someone who moves around regularly being in and out the office and working from different locations, the cloud along with the best productivity tools has become a monumental game changer, in business and productivity as a whole.
How about you, what applications can’t you live without?