In my last post I talked about some of the lessons I have learned since I began working for myself. I wanted to focus in on the idea of finding the right tools for the job.
Through a lot of experimentation we have arrived at some tools that we, >BL, use as a company and I have discovered some that allow me to stop worrying about various aspects of my working life.
Working in a virtual team makes it doubly important that there is one, reliable location for all of our shared documents. I can’t wander over to Clive’s desk and ask him if he’s got that contract. Well I could, but he’d be quite surprised if I appeared on his doorstep. It doesn’t have to be Dropbox – I’ve used various online storage solutions when working with clients and they are all much of a muchness. Your document repository needs to be logically organised and some sort of naming convention is useful.
We decided to make a conscious effort not to use email for day-to-day information sharing and this has been partially successful. At the start of each week we all pot in Podio with an outline of our movements for the week and some indication of what we’re working on. When we have information to share about prospects or updates on joint projects, we use the appropriate stream in Podio to let everyone know. We can assign tasks to each other and ask for input on pieces of work. It’s not the answer to all of our needs and the lack of good calendar functionality is a problem but it does help us keep up-to-date with where people are and what we are doing.
I have business and personal Evernote accounts. For work we use Evernote to capture documents that we are working on collaboratively – from meeting notes and their attendant action points to weekly updates for clients. Static information goes into Dropbox and evolving information goes into Evernote.
Notes Plus (iOS)
I love this app. I have an Adonit Jot Script and the combination of the two make a beautiful handwriting/note taking experience on the iPad Mini 2. I love stationery and pens but for work purposes I like to know that I can capture notes in one, easily referenced place and this combination of tools works very well for me. When I use real-life pens and paper I often find information distributed over a number of books and scraps and that way danger lies.
By far and away the best time tracking tool I have used. It took me a while to remember to turn it on and if it ain’t running, it ain’t helping you so this was something of an important hurdle to clamber over. Toggl are really good at bringing out updates that address user feedback and the app’s reporting and dashboard capabilities are extremely useful.
What tools would you recommend for working with others and keeping track of your own work life?