Top ten (or is it 13?) tech tools to save time
Last week at Judy Heminsley’s regular ‘How to Work from Home’ workshops at Central we had a tech theme and San Sharma, Community Manager from Work Snug and Enterprise Nation came along to talk us through his top 10 tech tools to save you time. As a few people couldn’t make it I promised to write it up and as I am in tech myself am going to throw in a few of my favourites at the end as well.
So what were San’s top ten tech tools?
1. Chrome a good browser is really important. This one is quick, secure, has great add-ons and works across all platforms. Mac users should also check out Safari. Great tip: make sure you are making the most of tabs.
2. Instapaper : Save the shortcut button into your browser and whenever you see some great content you’d like to read later on send it to Instapaper for offline reading on your phone through the Instapaper app. Show You is a similar site for keeping track of video content you’d like to go back to.
3. Google Reader: RSS feeds are a great way to stay productive. Instead of visiting various sites to find relevant contents and news for your industry have it come to you through Google Reader. You can star items you want to save for later and also tweet straight from inside Google Reader (or post to other social media sites, including Buffer). Mac users will also like the aesthetic of Reeder– which also gives you the option to send to Instapaper.
4. Delicious: tagging bookmarks and saving them to your Delicious account is another way to save time by making it easy to go back to great content you come across but don’t have time to read or want to keep going back to. The social side of Delicious is not to everyone’s liking (ie you may not want to show the world what you're reading) so note that you have the option to keep everything private. Either way you get to make the most of the great tagging facilities to easily find contents. More advanced users will want to check out the Stack feature.
5. Evernote: another classic app which is available across platforms and which offers great ways to organize information. Especially useful when travelling or to keep track of receipts – send or scan information to Evernote, tag it or do a key word search and watch the character recognition at work.
6. Flow/ Toodledo: I am a big fan of Getting Things Done by David Allen and ever since reading it use a task list to manage my business and personal to do’s. Personally I use Outlook tasks but both these apps are other great cloud based ways of tracking your tasks.
7. Twitter: We looked at a range of twitter options from the ‘just’ twitter’s own app to more complex apps like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. The latter are great if you need to manage more than one stream, if you want to schedule tweets or get analytics. Overall the preference fell for Hootsuite as being user friendly and having good looking interface. We also briefly discussed apps like qwitter which let you see who unfollows you (might be best not to find out!) and tweriod which lets you know when your followers are most likely to be online.
8. Buffer app: still on the subject of twitter – whilst we all agreed that scheduling tweets needs to be done with care as it’s a good idea not to flood your followers with tweets. So if you are catching up on your reading send tweets to Buffer and let it automatically spread your tweets throughout the day. Since the workshop I have now added this to my Google Reader so I can tweet to buffer straight from there- time saving or what!
9. Basecamp: a great project management app from 37signals which has a free option giving your full functionality with a single project. So whether you are managing your wedding (as in San’s case!) or a client project another great way to keep evertyhing organised and in the cloud.
10. Dropbox: Everyone attending the workshop was already using Dropbox though perhaps not to its full potential. This is a great way to work offline, backup to the cloud and get access to your work from any browser or other machine in which you log into your Dropbox account. I personally have saved all my business and personal documents to Dropbox (the free account is large enough for this) and can access them from 3 different computers that I work on, from any browser and from my phone- essential for any mobile worker.
And there’s more…
11. iftt: San’s bonus to the list was completely new to me and a great little service that lets you automate various tasks. ‘If This Then That’ lets you set triggers and actions: so if you would like to save the photo you take with Instagram to your Dropbox account you can. Simply look at their list of top automations to pick the ones that would save you time.
Personally I only use 4 of the above on a daily basis (Dropbox, Twitter, Buffer and Google Reader) so don’t feel overwhelmed if there are unfamiliars on the list. Best to use just one effectively than set up accounts with lots and then loose track of what you are storing where!
I am all for keeping thing simple and try to use as little as possible to do what I need to do. The following two are essential daily tools for me:
12. Office365: this is how I manage my emails, calendar and contacts. Office365 is a recently launched service from Microsoft which offers Exchange Online to sync all your data across as many devices as you like. I have Outlook on three different laptops at home (all different sizes – I am in tech remember!) and also manage my calendar, contacts and emails on my phone. Sometimes when I am working on the go I will borrow a laptop and access all my data through an Outlook browser app. Unlike everything on San’s list this one will cost you £4+VAT a month and is available for both Mac and PC users.
13. 1Password: another essential for me – password management software so you never need to remember your passwords. Sloppy password management will make you vulnerable to hackers so its important to keep strong and different passwords for everything. Spending some time setting up this software is a great way to protect yourself and save time from having to reset passwords when you can’t remember them! Again not a free one but in this case also worth paying.
I hope this top 13 proves useful in saving you time – if there is anything we’ve left off the list leave a comment and let us know how you make the most of technology to save time.