The author, Molly Mandelberg, a guest blogger at Tad Hargraves' most excellent site, has a very grounded, helpful way of describing these tools. She opens with:
I’m talking about automation: for some it’s passive income, for others it’s a lighter load in their email inbox. Whatever it looks like, the point is that technology can make life a heck of a lot easier, if we just take the time to set it up.
“We are the Jetson’s!” We are living in a time where it couldn’t be easier to share your message on a large scale.
But Where the F do we start?
NOTE: These are useful tools to implement, but by NO means necessary to the growth of your business. You can always go without, it just gets easier when you have some systems to support you.
The Online Scheduler sounds brilliant. If I get much busier with my clients, that sounds VERY helpful. (For now, I'm mostly part-time with my accounting clients, since I'm also part-time supporting Paul and permies.com/wheaton labs, and part-time managing wheaton labs homestead things - that's 3 part-time jobs for more than full-time responsibilities!!)
Did any of this hit home for you?
What tech tools make your remote or agile work better?
Seems like there's no one solution to fit all with the exception of some fairly expensive one. I've been using linux operating systems for several years now and finally settled on kubuntu/KDE because of the interoperability of the different apps. They're heavy on Personal Information Management. Everything from simple to do lists, more advanced to do lists, journal to email clients, contact management, calendars, office programs, note keeping, graphics programs, blogilo which will upload posts to most popular blogs. It allows you to work while not connected and upload when you are. Being linux based, it's open source so there's no costs. I don't use all KDE apps as I had already been using others that I prefer. I use CherryTree for a notekeeping app and it's available for windows and mac I think too. It's like a cross between an offline website(you can have links to the web, files or other pages within cherrytree) and a personal database. I like WordPress for site building as it's fairly simple compared to drupal and joomla. There's a lot you can do with some plugins for interacting with customers/clients.
To anyone using WordPress, there's a couple of must have plugins that will prevent a lot of misery. WordFence for overall security and wp-spamshield so that you can allow commenting without having to worry about comment spam.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?
Using Trello totally revolutionized the way I do work. (I'm not being paid for this...) Before I switched to Trello I just had one massive list of things that needed to be done and I had great difficulty realizing what really needed to be done next when I was looking for my next task. When I switched to Trello I significantly improved my productivity because I was really able to categorize and prioritize my work in a way I had never done before. It was also really helpful because if I just had a quick thought during the evening of something I needed to do the next day, I'd just open up Trello, write it in there, and then close it back down. It really reduced my previous stress of "I better remember to do this in the morning. I hope I don't forget!"
I have also found mind mapping to be incredibly valuable in providing me a platform for taking all of the ideas in my head and organizing them in a quick and efficient manner. It has been super helpful as I have thought of different projects to be able to just put a few ideas in there and walk away and not worry about forgetting all of my ideas. I have been using FreeMind but there are others out there too.
John, your linux and open source apps are far beyond me. All my accounting clients are on either PC or Mac, so I'm in the pay-for-it (and MS) realm for the most part. Good tips on the WordPress plugins, too!
Shawn, so cool to hear Trello has been so useful to you! I'm with you! I feel I've barely scratched the surface in using it for myself and for other collaborative project management. I've wanted to try mind mapping, though never have, so that's a good tip, too.
I'm going to go out on a limb and detail the agile work apps I've used and why I like some for some things and not others.
Evernote free version is single user
I think you have to pay to share notes/reminders/etc.
readily/quickly available offline
syncs automatically between phone and laptop
this is where I keep shopping lists, errand lists, general client notes, other reference items, esp. those I might want on my smartphone while on the go
I've only used the reminders (notifications) a small amount in Evernote - I'm more likely to use Google calendar or Trello
Trello see my post about Trello in the learning to prioritize thread free version is multi-user, just have to pay for more "bot" or automation features or pretty backgrounds though not necessary for most prioritizing
not as available offline, though usually does okay
has app for desktop and smartphone or tablet
great for lists and project management for groups
this is a more visual, flexible and appealing app than a spreadsheet or other plain-jane document lists
each "card" can be a task - easy to drag around to different lists (such as 'hot list', 'to delegate', 'done!' etc.) or drag up or down on a list to prioritize
plus, each card can have it's own checklist, description, links, images, assignment to one or more parties, etc.
Google Drive free version is multi-user if each user has enough space in their Google account for all the shared files
in terms of office-type apps, works best with Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Forms and other Google app files (otherwise the only way to edit something in Drive, like, say, a MS Word doc, is to convert it to a Google Doc file, and now there are two documents...)
in the past, this conversion, and/or the uploading and downloading of documents was confusing to my clients
Google Drive no longer has an app for easier file management on a desktop unless you pay for it
Drive is doing better at being available offline, but was glitchy last I tried (I don't try to access offline much any more, so might be better?)
Google calendar(s) free and can be multi-user
could mostly be used in browser on desktop/laptop, though available in app for smartphone or tablet, too
can have multiple calendars and the ability to toggle on or off some of them
e.g., Paul's calendar things are green, mine are blue, and wheaton labs calendar items are grey in my set up
many of my regular reminders are scheduled "appointments" and have a notification that requires a dismissal, snooze, or reschedule before moving past it
Dropbox free with a limited storage amount, otherwise costs ($?)
has decent security for sharing documents in the cloud (well, about as good as any other cloud storage, which is lousy, though perhaps better than sending over e-mail)
this has a file management app for your desktop so that files can be copied or moved to Dropbox as if they are on your computer
this works as storage only - so all types of documents are kept in original format with no need to convert for editing
(which also means each user must have the correct app for editing files on their own device)
if two people change a document at the same time, Dropbox creates a copy with annotated filename for clarity (unless using their new collaborative Paper app/document/thing)
this was far less confusing for my clients and felt more secure than emailing documents with sensitive information
not available offline
login and password app once you start assisting anyone with anything online, storage of logins and passwords becomes rather important, even paramount
I use Keeper to store passwords for myself, Paul, and about 15-20 clients
Others I know have used KeePass or LastPass
The reason I chose Keeper is because it was device based storage - I could opt out of cloud storage of my sensitive data - and I could sync between my smartphone and my laptop. Though now Keeper insists on syncing through their cloud backups.
Most folks use a browser extension to have the password app fill in the login and password for them (or even simply have the browser remember it for them), but I don't. I don't like the idea of a trojan or hacker having such easy access that way if they invaded my computer. So I copy and paste logins and passwords from my Keeper app into wherever they are needed.
This video shows a really elegant method for note taking and prioritizing and organizing your tasks. Even if you're not a Trello user, and might use a paper journal, or notepad, or Evernote or another app - I think his method here is solidly a winner.