No matter what profession you’re working in, efficiency matters. Being able to get more done in less time is the key to getting ahead. Being productive isn’t about working harder, it’s about working smarter.
Fortunately, with the number of tools on the market today, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the online resources that will help you to increase the amount you’re able to accomplish.
The following are just a few of our favorites.
Before we came up with our own time tracking tool we’ve used different tracking approaches: from non-tracking time to Google spreadsheets, oDesk, Redmine, etc. Total control like oDesk with taking screenshots contradicts our basic principles. Redmine & Google spreadsheets lack flexibility & opportunities for analysis.
Besides, these tracking tools don’t count seek days, holidays, vacations, time off work for personal reasons. Every company faces it all and all their employees need to send a bunch of e-mails with ccs to dozens of people to inform them about vacation or a day off, however, in the end, nobody remembers while you are absent.
Finally, after endless trials & errors, we’ve come with an Everhour as our smart-featured geeky tool, clear & simple, with minimalistic & intuitive interface. Each member of the team could contribute to the product development highlighting their personal working time tracking needs. When working on Everhour we learned to provide better estimates for certain tasks & projects, which significantly influenced the eventual result.
If you don’t use DropBox, I will shake my head at you in disapproval. ;) It’s “shared network drives” taken into this millennium. Nothing to set up, works across firewalls, brilliantly easy to use, insanely cheap. If they go public one day, I’ll be buying stock.
We use it for sharing all of our project files: graphic assets, UI mockups, documents, screenshots, videos, DB dumps etc. Rather than try and upload those all into Basecamp and require logins, uploads, tagging, etc… it is much easier to drop them into a folder you share with the project team and be on your merry way. That way when someone updates a file you are instantly privy to the changes.
We love create basic design in Balsamiq. It’s so lightweight and fast that we can iterate quickly on the wireframe. Once we know what the layout is, we can re-draw it in Illustrator or Photoshop (if needed), to work out the colors, fonts, and styling. What we extremely love about Balsamiq is that it limits your choices – you only have 1 font, few colors, and a list of elements. It forces you to concentrate on the layout, not whether things should be in helvetica or lucida, pink or blue.
Twitter channel is no longer a luxury but a must for each social media person, company or brand. We use Twitter to share our latest news, tips and tricks and to interact with our users. We prefer tweeting via BufferApp and here are the reasons why:
- Hit the best time for tweeting
- Tweet on holidays and weekends
- Buffer from a web page
- Watch real-time stats
From the beginning we mostly used SVN and Beanstalk, but in the last 2 years we’ve completely switched to Git. In parallel we’ve started using GitHub for project management after the developers started raving about how much they loved it for managing code.
To our surprise, GitHub has proven a solid option for project management and issue tracking. With a little bit of something for each team member, GitHub is starting to come out on top as the tool of choice for hosting code, managing projects, and facilitating project communication.
GitHub allows you to have a detailed discussion about each and every commit that is pushed to your project. Should it be included? Was it done correctly? Should something else be added? Talk about each change to your code with everyone involved before releasing or incorporating them.
This is an app that most people already have, but no productivity tools list would be complete without it :). Evernote let us collect everything: things, make notes, lists, and anything else we want to store. It syncs between your computer, smartphone, and tablet so your files and notes are available everywhere you are. Search for cool ways to use evernote and you’ll find tons of articles like this.
The ability to remotely connect to a different computer is not something that one needs every day but, when that need does arise, it is usually for something important. It could be to facilitate remote assistance for addressing a problem you are facing or when you want to share something on your screen that needs to be shown to other person in real-time. Maybe you want to connect to your own computer at home from a different location.
TeamViewer provides our team an excellent solution to establishing all above.
Mural.ly is the easiest way for creative teams (like us :)) to think, imagine and discuss their ideas. Mural.ly allows you to create murals and collect any content you want inside them and organize it in flexible and organic way in one big space.
Clear, concise communication is powerful. With a little clarity, we eliminate those long, roundabout email exchanges that keep projects in perpetual limbo. That’s what Skitch is for.
You can get the app to take a screenshot or select an area of the screen (or even a photo if you’re using it on your mobile) and you can easily provide feedback, comments, arrows, text, shapes whatever you need to put your ideas across.
To get you up to speed, Socialcast is software that acts as a private twitter. It’s built for internal collaboration and communication.
What we’re finding about Socialcast as a team tool is that it allows for a better snapshot of how the day is going, a better way to call out how projects are going, a useful method to call out what’s on our plates, and a much better way to gauge the flow of office experiences than email.
We’re using it for collaboration, for simple q&a, for talking about what’s upcoming.We are happy so far.
There are tons of email marketing systems out there, and it can be hard to know where to start when looking for the product that works best for you. We are pretty fond of MailChimp
MailChimp handles the dirty work so you don’t have to be a designer or write a bunch of code every time you want to send a beautifully designed message to your subscribers. The developers at MailChimp have made it easy to create forms and message templates that match your website.
Reports are perfect for. Within moments of sending your email, you are able to see stats for things like opens, email bounces and clicks within the email.