Ok, I am totally a digital tools and productivity nerd.
Because my personality type (INFP) is by nature, not one that thinks or acts in a linear way, and this is complicated by the fact that I am also an “abstract random reflective”…well, it’s a miracle that I ever complete anything.
So I find myself having to compensate for my nature with tools that help me to keep on track. I find that I work best when I have clear systems that allow me to stay on the rails. When I find myself not taking advantage of these tools, well…”SQUIRREL!”
So I’ve always loved shopping around for new ways of trying to keep organized and on track. I love walking around office supply stores (nerd alert!). I love shopping the app store under the categories of “organization” and “productivity.” I love trying new methods and systems to see if they help me to be more organized. I also love hearing what other folks do.
So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite digital tools and systems, in hopes that you’ll reply and share yours. First, I need to give you my “operating system.” For my personal life, as well as my Network work, I use a MacBook Pro. I also use an iPhone and an iPad. At my desk at my congregation, it is a Dell laptop. So I have to live and work in both the PC and Apple worlds, and need systems that will allow these two worlds to talk with each other.
Here’s what I use:
Calendar – I use the standard calendar app that comes with the Mac and syncs with both the iPad and the iPhone. It’s very serviceable, though I’m not a fan of the “look” of the app (the month view in particular) since the new operating systems launched. I would be very open to looking at a new option, as long as it will sync between all my devices. Any suggestions?
Nozbe – It’s not the prettiest “to-do” app, but it’s got a lot of muscle under the hood, and it is regularly being updated and maintained. You can assign tasks to different contexts (i.e. ‘errands’ or ‘office’) and can create your own contexts (i.e. ‘caribou.’) You can also assign times to the task, for how long you estimate something will take. Which means you could say to yourself “I’m at Caribou and have 5 minutes before I need to leave…any tasks that I can do that fit those criteria?” It has multiple views (calendar is my favorite and it has robust notification options, and you can attach documents or notes. It’s also relatively easy to use. The interface could use a redesign, but it’s not bad.
Evernote – I love Evernote. I just wished I remembered to use it more. It can do a ton of stuff, and it syncs between all of my devices. I can use it for notes, for planning…I just haven’t turned it into my default “g0-to” note taking platform yet. I’d like to develop that as more of a habit.
Dropbox – I love Dropbox. It is a non-negotiable for me. I use it for backing up all my data files, and for sharing those files between my different devices. I can start a sermon on my PC in the office, and finish it on my Mac at the coffee shop. I also use it to share large files with others that are too large to e-mail. My wife and I have our family photos in a shared folder. I pay for the enhanced service with more storage. It’s totally worth it to me.
Basecamp – This is a great collaborative project management, cloud-based piece of software. It highlights threaded message boards, with e-mail notifications, file storage, a collaborative text writing tool and “to-do” functions that you can assign and which automatically reminds people of before they are done. Some of the same functions are available for free from Google, but they aren’t integrated nearly as well, and the interface is much harder to work with. Basecamp’s philosophy is that less clutter is more. I love working in Basecamp. It’s especially great for Network stuff…when we’re working with teams who are dispersed all over the country, it’s really an indispensable tool.
HootSuite – HootSuite is another one that I think I underutilize. It is a social media dashboard and interface. You can schedule tweets and Facebook posts to go at different times, and you can work collaboratively. It’s what we use to schedule the Network’s social media. It’s fairly intuitive. I’d really love to learn more about the other stuff it can do.
Google Voice – And it’s free? You can get a phone number and some cool tools that automate how calls are handled. (i.e. multiple voicemail responses that can be assigned to different callers.) A personal and a professional voicemail? But it also sends you texts with transcripts of your voicemails.
Kindle – I’m guessing you read a lot. I do. It’s one of the primary ways we stay connected to the world around us. So I’ve moved probably 80% of my reading to the Kindle platform. I find that I read more, because I always have e-books with me. Reading more is good.
Office Apps – I grew up on Microsoft Office, but it’s big and cumbersome. Using Microsoft Office is kind of like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer. The Mac world is relatively new to me, but I’m learning to really like Numbers, Pages and the other Apple products. They are much more nimble. I just wish the rest of the world used them. I have to have Microsoft Office because that’s what I need for sending files back and forth.
That’s basically it. There are probably other pieces too, but these I use almost daily in some way, shape or form.
So I’m curious what you use to keep yourself on track? Of if you have any feedback on my choices above. Please reply and share your thoughts. The nerd in me would like to know.
Networked in Christ,