It wasn’t easy for me to convert to Mac, mostly cause I’m not the prototypical artist or designer, that’s way more Matt’s thing. But now that I am here I am definitely an evangelist for the performance and the intuitive programs. But, regardless of platform, here are 9 tools that will increase your productivity. Give them a shot… you will not be disappointed.
#1 Evernote - Notes & Ideas
Simply the best, most complete place to start, develop, keep and share ideas. Ditch your wordprocessing program right now.
PLUS it’s Free!
Google Docs - Documents, spreadsheets, word-processing, pdf’s & more
Google Docs started as a cute alternative to word processing on your own machine but is now a viable replacement for ever again paying for a Word or Pages. The best improvement in google docs is the upload feature enabling a simple import for document that anyone sends you. Edit it. Share it. Download it. Convert it. Great stuff!
PLUS it’s Free!
Dropbox - Easy File Sharing
“Get your files anywhere” is the company’s explanation, and that pretty much sums it up. You can also quickly sync files, share files and back-up files of all kinds.
PLUS it’s Free!
Hootsuite - Social Media Management
They explain it better than I do.. “Improve productivity by managing all of your social networks within HootSuite.” Yep. That sounds right. Manage facebook, twitter, blog posts and a ton more.
Wunderlist - To-Do (GTD)
Since Apple can’t seem to ever get it right with a simple and powerful ‘to-do list’ program, everyone is left searching for the best thing. Here it is.
1Password - Universal Password
Worth every penny. Save & recall all of your passwords in one very secure application. This is a life saver with every website having their own log in requirements. The ‘auto-fill’ feature is time saving both for log-ins & for purchases.
Wufoo – Online Form Builder
A what?! A form builder. You will never hate forms again. It’s super easy to use and even easier to install sexy looking forms onto your webpages.
Pocket – Web Reader
It might seem frivolous like an app only geeks would use, but give it a try. Pocket saves articles for later, in an easy readable – text only format. Looks great on an iphone or ipad too.
Quickly share images, links, music, videos and files. We rely on this app every day for interacting with clients in flash.
Many of our sites run wordpress. We loooove wordpress around here. But a common question we hear, is where does the users profile photo come from? In comments, author biographies, etc.
We rely on the Gravatar system created by wordpress. Gravatar, or a “Globally Recognized Avatar” is an image connected to your email address, and is actually used on any site also using the gravatar service.
Head over to gravatar.com, and sign up (free). Here you can connect as many emails as you have, and upload a photo. Now, when ever you administer a site, comment on a blog, etc, if you use one of those emails, it will auto pull your photo. Need to update the photo? great, log back in, and change it. It will globally update all your past articles, comments and profiles.
It’s a great way to give a face to a name, and humanize the internet.
Sometimes we get busy. Sometimes very busy. I can personally attest to this. I’m pretty sure most of March and April flew by me in a blink. Oh I know stuff happened. Projects, birthdays, trips, events, but it’s a blur.
Not sure about you, but when I get busy, I focus in. I skip social networks, networking events, follow up calls, little emails, etc. I’m all about the nose to the screen and get stuff out the door mode. Great from time to time, but if you hang out in this mode too often things suffer. New project leads, relationships, health, the weeds in my front yard, and even creativity. The busier I feel, the worse I sleep, the less Ii work out, the less I enjoy life. It’s a terrible cycle.
So take a moment out of your busy week. Say hi to some friends, thank some past clients, go exercise, spend some time with family, and enjoy life. If you work too hard, you may miss that life you are working so hard for.
P.S. Thanks to my awesome family and friends for putting up with me while I go crazy. We’ll get the life balance thing in order someday right?
Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a deal breaker. – Seth Godin.
This statement is true in so many aspects. Look at politics, giant companies, churches, and non-profits. The more brilliant people in a room, the more no one can decide a single focus, direction and executable project.
Funny thing in life, Simple almost always wins.
- Myspace was complicated and too many things. Facebook is simple (kind of).
- Blackberry UI is complicated. iPhone is clear.
- Constant contact is deep in menus and pages. Campaign monitor is the good kind of shallow.
The more I use technology, the more I appreciate simple. I have owned way too many high priced bluetooth headsets. Funny thing is that the simple headphones / mic included with my iphone seems to just plain work, clearly, flawlessly, and without a need to keep a battery charged.
Where can you make simple cuts in your life, service, product and delivery.
P.S. Simple, not dumb, or lacking in core function.
People love fun. How can you take your product or service and have a little fun with it? You dont need to down play the power, seriousness, or delivery of the product itself, but the marketing and messaging can really make it that much easier for people to see you stand out out from the competition.
Example: Slick plan. Its a web app that we use to help plan out site navigations (boring right). But check out this email as a great example of having a little fun. Great Job Slickplan!
I was reminded again yesterday of some key ‘search-ability’ items while doing some research for rafting adventures. When I started my search I didn’t pre-think my criteria but they were there just waiting to be connected with each website I visited.
- Family oriented
- Ages for the participants (I have kids)
- Overall experience
- Time & days
What I learned & remembered about what web searches
- The quality of presentation (right or wrong) gave me an overall impression of the reliability and professional nature of what I anticipated experiencing on our outing.
- Not so startlingly what helped me realize my criteria was the absence of the right kind of information or experiences.
- Typos on main pages & critical information really gave me an impression that a company wasn’t serious about their business. The same was true with websites, there was an direct correlation between the quality of the website and the experience I thought I might enjoy.
- An added feature that most failed on was mobile readiness of the site. While on vacation or traveling, I lean heavily on my phone searches. If you are in the tourist industry and your website isn’t mobile ready then you are ready to fail on the web related business.
- Also because I was on my phone I was only willing to click on 5 sites even though I am sure that there were more. Call me lazy or call my time important, but if you are good at your business that you should pay attention to SEO. Being less than 3rd in your specific market should be unacceptable.
- The last little quirk that jumped out at me on this specific search was if the CITY and RAFTING were in the website title some how I reasoned that the company was more dialed in on what I wanted over rafting companies that covered 3-6 different areas.
In recent months both Ryan (business development here at factor1) and I have been training hard. Ryan is training for an ironman and I have been training for a century road race. And as we talk about the process, the weekly plans and the pain, I see a lot of parallels in business as a owner, manager or leader of any organization.
You have to have a plan.
Training for a big event without a plan may realistically kill you. You cant go from the couch to the finish line without some sort of plan. Set some goals and milestones to reach for. They dont have to be money or sales related. Personally, my goal is to be the most efficient i can be, maximizing time, so I can possible spend more time with my family. I have a goal of a 4 day work week by the end of July.
Your plan needs rhythm and growth.
My plan is pretty easy. I ride some easy days, i ride some sprints and high intensity days, and i have pace days. This is true at the office too. Some days are nuts, with way too many things on the to do list, and too many fires to put out. Other days are normal, good, but not chaos, and some days are easy, like fridays after all the hard work is done. You must enjoy, plan and put in the effort to make them all work.
If you want all easy days, you probably need a new plan. One without a big a finish. All high intensity and you will burn out fast.
You need to grow with the plan.
Start small. A few miles at a time, gradually increasing the distance. Same at the office. Push your self to be faster, more efficient and better at your job. As they say, Rome was not built in a day.
All training plans have rest days. Take days off. At least the weekend. Vacations would be great. I’ll let you know what they are like when I get to take one for real someday. One without a laptop and a few hours of working a day. Not sure when that will be.
What did I miss?
See, We told you we have been busy around here. Lots of new projects launching this season. SantaPhotos.com was a very cool project to be working on. Mall Santas are a big deal. Many families want to find the same santa year after year, to provide great tradition, and consistency to their family photos. We needed to build a great site to make managing and finding locations and santas easy.
About the build of this site.
Using WordPress, we wrote about a dozen custom functions to make some magic happen. Custom home slider tools using jquery were built out, custom content types for santas, locations, and home banners were all part of the plan. So now when SantaPhotos admins need to add a location, they simply log in, add a new location, fill in the name, address, url, map link, etc, and we do the heavy lifting. All without any wordpress plugins.
It really turned out amazing. With all the santas, locations, pages and blog posts, managing specific content types is a breeze.
So far traffic is up (300 – 600 unique visitors per day), and SEO key words are already helping the new site showing up in google. The staff at SantaPhotos.com was very excited to see the new site live.
I’m an avid mountain biker, road biker, and cyclist. I ride my bike to the office every day, to church on a regular basis, and anywhere I can. I have been riding a lot for the better part of 7 years. Even spent most of my childhood on a bike. Riding for recreation, exercise, fun, friendship, even racing, I love it all.
Over the years I have been riding with some new riders, and giving a lot of tutorials, tips, tricks, and explaining concepts to better help them as riders on the road or on the trails.
In thinking about these conversations, the ideas and concepts can really be applied to almost anything — Business, ministry, life, and maybe even marriage.