Apps That Improve My Efficiency
From conferences to client meetings, I’m working from the road a lot. Here is a summary listing of the apps and tools that help me to do what I do best, regardless of location.
I’ve been using Asana for more than a year, and it’s everything I’ve ever needed in terms of managing deadlines and projects. I wrote about Asana in detail last year, and I’m just as impressed as ever.
Asana helps me keep track of my workload, without the whiteboard and sticky notes. This helps as I divide my time between the home office and rental office, and keeps me on top of things while I travel.
While it’s designed for collaboration, I don’t use it with colleagues; this is solely my method for keeping track of deadlines and details.
GoodNotes has helped me to edit PDF files, keep an indexable record of my handwritten notes, and generally reduce the amount of paper I’m using.
I’ve gotten so accustomed to using GoodNotes that I almost can’t remember what it was like to work without it.
I carry the iPad Pro with me wherever I go. The form factor is flexible enough that I can pull it out anywhere to edit a document, track hours on a spreadsheet, or just read on my Kindle app. Don’t be surprised if you find me working in GoodNotes while my son is at Brazilian Jiu-jitsu class in the late afternoon. It’s been a game-changer for me.
Are you on Slack yet? You should be. We started with a family Slack channel last year (yes, we’re nerds) as a way to communicate non-urgent information. Depending on how your day is going, Slack can act as an instant messenger app or a holding tank like your email inbox. The difference with Slack is that my husband will actually read it, as opposed to his email which is a black hole.
But I’m now part of other Slack channels, not the least of which is the Introverted Leadership channel created by Ben Woelk after his talk at the STC Summit in Anaheim. It’s been a great way to keep in touch with colleagues from STC, all while participating in a relevant book club. (Our book for June is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.)
I’ll admit from the start that Polymail doesn’t work as well as Mailbox, the now-defunct email app that I used previously. But Polymail does allow me to defer messages to more convenient times, and helps me to maintain my 18-month streak of Inbox Zero living.
I used to think that Inbox Zero was an impossibility, the sort of thing that was only possible with an advanced degree from Hogwarts. As it turns out, it’s actually manageable with the right tools.
Mailbox and Polymail helped me to punt messages from the inbox where they loomed large, returning them only at times where I’d have the opportunity to actually do something about it.
For example, if one of my German clients sends files overnight, during their work day, I can quickly skim them in the early morning and then set them to vanish until I get to the office. Same with personal emails: anything from school is punted until the evening when I have the opportunity to deal with it. And while I know that they’re coming back eventually, they’re not distracting me from other things that need more immediate attention.
What apps and resources can’t you live without?