This weekend, a friend of mine asked what were some of the best ways to use technology to be more productive and get more sh*t done. I thought about it for a bit and came up with a list of the technology tools I use regularly or semi-regularly to help me manage my life.
- Odesk. Odesk is number one on this list for a reason. It’s basically a marketplace for contract services — web design, SEO, short data research projects, etc. Whatever you need, simply post the job or look for someone on the site and you’ll get people willing to do it for a fee. You pay Odesk directly and they pay the contractor. It’s amazing on a number of levels — #1 you can assign the right person at the right rate to the job you are doing; #2 there are so many people on the site, you can always find someone; and #3 the ability to send project internationally keeps the prices reasonable. Find a project you are dreading, send it to Odesk and you’ll be amazed.
- LogMeIn. LogMeIn is a tool that allows you to quickly move from your work machine to your home machine — all through the Internet. It saves me trouble of having to keep copies of documents on all the computers I work on. On a per-hour basis, I get the most value out of this tool — and it makes me productive from wherever I am, be it home, traveling or in the office.
- Tungle.me. Tungle is a great way to share your schedule without all the details. Tungle ties into things like Outlook, Gmail, Facebook, TripIt, and Plancast to create an online version of your schedule that others can view. If I need to schedule a meeting or phone call with someone, my standard operating procedure is to simply send my tungle page (www.tungle.me/erickoester) and tell someone to find a time or times for a meeting. This saves all the back and forth of coordinating schedules over email or phones. Plus, my wife has access and knows where to find me (which is a huge additional benefit!)
- Gist. Gist is a tool that aggregates content from your contacts into a single source. If I want to find information on a contact or a company, I usually use Gist. It’ll pull data from Outlook, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and give me a single view of a contact. There are lots of features, but the one I use most regularly is the dashboard where I can find new blog posts, job titles, etc. for my key contacts and then connect with them on those points. I also use Gist in Gmail — which has created a similar experience to Xobni in Outlook (but not quite as well structured yet).
- Xobni. Xobni is a sidebar tool that helps aggregate content for each email/contact in Outlook. Frankly, I think Xobni is still one of the best Outlook plugins out there. I use it on all of my PCs and until I upgraded to Android mobile, I used Xobni on my blackberry. It’s a great way to get a snapshot of a person right in Outlook and keeps things like phone numbers, other email addresses, LinkedIn profiles, etc. all within Outlook.
- TripIt. TripIt creates a single version of your travel schedule. All you do is forward your travel itineraries to firstname.lastname@example.org and it combines all the information by trip in its system. No longer do I have to save all my travel documents in a folder or print out things — I just go to TripIt (online or via the mobile app) and everything is right there. It’s another one that has made traveling much less painful. My hope is that Concur (it’s recent acquiror) will find a way to integrate expense reporting into TripIt and then you’ll have a real winner!
- Timely. Timely is a Flowtown product that helps schedule Tweets when they’ll have the most impact. For me, I am a late-night worker and tend to get my inspiration late in the day. So rather than blast out a Tweet at 2 am when no one will read it, I drop it in Timely and it’ll schedule it for me when it will have the most impact. And then it provides metrics tracking its results — and yes, I’ve seen many more retweets and clicks on these tweets than before. (In fact, I’ll use Timely to schedule the tweet for this blog post!)
- Meeting Wizard or Doodle. These two systems are free tools to help you schedule a meeting. Just list a few times, ask people to register the time that works for them, and you are done. Stop wasting time over email trying to figure out these times — use this and you’ll be amazed at the time savings.
That’s the list of the key things I find myself regularly using to be more productive, organize my time/life, and get stuff done. What are other things I should be using to help me become more productive?