Productivity Tools We Use
There are a lot of services out there that make a company’s life easier. That allow you to work faster, communicate clearer, get a better perspective and reduce human error. Most of the following have free trial options but I have found them all worth the price they charge for premium subscriptions.
Initially I was flippant about ToDoist. I have always been a big believer in the power of postit notes and I would write every task I needed to do on a note and stick it on my to do wall. When the task was complete I would screw it up and chuck it away. When my old boss first visited our new office her first remark was that she could tell which desk was mine as there were postit notes all the way up to the ceiling.
But after some cajoling from a friend I agreed to trial ToDoist for a single project. I can’t imagine living without it now and the postit notes have since been history and our office is a lot more presentable.
ToDoist is essentially a very simple web application that allows you to create to do lists, share them with co-workers, assign them to people, set deadlines and reminders and break a project down into manageable chunks.
It works on everything. I normally use it as a chrome extension and at a click of a button i can see everything i need to do and add new tasks. I also have it on my phone, so if I am at a client meeting and they ask a question i don’t have an answer for i can add it as a task, do my research later and get back to them with an answer.
Basecamp is a more advanced project management system than todoist and we only use it for our larger project. Projects that are more complicated and where we are working closely with a different team in a different company.
Its important to remember with basecamp that if you are going to use it you must put all communications through it. So there is a record of every single communication and file.
Basecamp allows you to keep track of pretty much everything, and whilst I wouldn’t use it to organise smaller projects and my general todo list it is perfect for complex project where there is likely to be some project creep and where there needs to be clear accountability, shared project files and deadlines.
Dashlane is a password manager that’s ideal for multiple users and large volumes. It allows the Square Socket team to access the huge number of online systems that we use on both our behalf and our clients whilst at the same time setting up an additional level of security.
As a company we have some 350 passwords stored. It is too much for us to keep track of without a spreadsheet but a spreadsheet would be too vulnerable to a trojan.
Dashlane is super secure and makes collaboration simpler.
G Suite for business is a group of services that google offers that allow you to work flexibly and remotely. We have set Google Apps up for a number of clients. I’ll go into each of the main apps below:
Gmail is the best email service and client out there. It has the best security and the most accurate spam filters, all the mail is in the cloud and it is fully personalisable.
However not everyone realises that you can have a professional gmail account. You set it up so that your email is [email protected] and you can login at mail.yourcompany.com. And because it is a paid account you don’t see any ads.
Google hangouts is a text chat and video conferencing system. If both users have a Gmail account then you can chat in your browser and at the click of a button you can start a video conference with up to 9 users.
Google Calendar allows you to run multiple calendars at the same time and share each with a different group of people. It allows you to organise meetings, invite people, manage attendance and set reminders. It does everything you want a calendar to do and it syncs easily with your phone.
The agenda widget is an android app that allows you to organise how your calendar displays on your phone. We use it to organise our events so that we can easily see what is happening next, making it easy to check what your next obligation is.
Google Drive is a cloud storage and collaboration system that is the new incarnation of Google Docs. Google Docs the best collaborative file software out there and you can easily setup and share spreadsheets and word documents and then share them with anyone and then you can all work on the document at the same time.
Google Drive can be downloaded onto your computer and used just like any other folder, but it will sync itself with the cloud. So if you throw your laptop in a river you can then just get a new one and import your data. You can also use it to sync the drives on two computers. So I can work on my client work on both my home computer and laptop almost as though they were the same computer..
We use skype for milestone meetings. We make a point of meeting clients face to face for the first and the last meeting in any project, but on our larger collaborations we schedule a skype conference once a week so we can make sure that all parties are up to date and address any arising issues or changes. Google hangouts does everything that Skype does, but our clients are more likely to already be using Skype and so it is our first choice for external online conferences.