With the pace of technology change, now is a good time to take a look at your processes and work habits to see if you can work smarter instead of harder.
Every organization needs a way to manage projects, create and share professional looking documents and marketing/sales materials, research competitors and industry trends, and manage social media. At Delos, the tools we use help us collaborate in real-time with our employees and customers no matter their location.
In today’s post, I share 7 tools we like to use to make the web work for us. They are all free or have free versions so try them out!
Asana—make project management a snap
We use Asana as our team to-do list, but it also holds our processes, checklists, and communications around a project. With Asana you create personal or team projects and tasks.
When we create a website, for example, there are graphics, content, programming, server configuration, and testing tasks that are common to every project. When we start a new project, we use our website template project to make sure everything that has to be done is mapped out.
Our templates include instructions and documentation as well so integrating new team members is easy. Each task can have team comments and conversations, so we have a lot less email between the team about project work—everything is documented in one place.
Asana is a free online tool for up to 15 team members with a premium plan for larger organizations. Use on the web, or the iOS or Android apps.
Use Asana to:
- create and use checklists around repeatable processes
- manage team projects
- keep project communications and documentation in one place (out of email!)
- keep track of personal tasks and priorities.
Buffer—posting to social media just got easier
You’ve probably heard me say that you don’t have enough time for social media—if you don’t have a plan. Publicizing events, getting the word out about your promotions, and telling your story can be difficult to fit into your daily schedule. Posting to Facebook at midnight because that’s when you get around to it isn’t a great idea for most businesses.
Enter Buffer. Buffer allows you to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. These can be posts you create, or interesting content you find on the web and want to share. Make sure your key messages go out automatically on the right days and times. Of course you should still respond and engage with your followers, it is called social media for a reason. But tracking analytics and getting the word out without having to be on social media all the time will benefit your web presence and grow your following. Consistency is important.
Buffer has free and paid plans. The free Individual plan includes one social media account per platform and 10 posts in your buffer. The Awesome and Business Plans let you add more accounts, more posts, more customization of schedule, and additional team members. Use on the web, or the iOS or Android apps.
Use Buffer to:
- create, schedule and post (one or more times) to all social media sites at a time and day of your choosing
- easily share content you find on the web
- analyze and track how posts perform across all social media networks.
Canva—graphic design made simple
Visual content is much more effective on the web and social media in getting your message across than text. Making it look good can be challenging and time consuming. We like to use Canva, a relatively new web-based design tool that lets you quickly create designs for web, social media, flyers, and more.
I really like that it is so easy to use, and also has great resources for making your designs look better. Lots of tutorials that will have you creating usable designs in 5 minutes or less!
You can use their templates to create a high-quality, shareable images for free. You can also add your own photos to the layouts, use free backgrounds and images, or select premium stock photos for $1 per image. Use on the web or the iPad app.
Use Canva to:
- create images for use on blog posts, social media, presentations and flyers
- save time with a large collection of stock images for only $1 each
- upload your own photos and incorporate them into professional designs
- learn how to effectively use visuals. Canva Design School and Canva tutorials are a great resource.
Design School: https://designschool.canva.com/
Evernote—find and remember everything
Evernote helps you remember everything from anywhere. Notes, pictures, documents, to do lists, web page articles, voice notes and sketches can all be added and organized into notebooks. Evernote is popular for to do lists, student note taking, project management, cataloging and more. In addition to notebooks and tags, you can search easily to find just what you are looking for.
Everyone seems to have a different use for it. I use it mainly as a digital filing cabinet of things I want to refer back to later. For example, when I find a book I might want to read, I’ll clip the web page into Evernote. When it’s time to go the bookstore or library, I go to Evernote to get the list of books I’ve been meaning to read. I also track new music I want to check out this way too. All my recipes now go to Evernote and there is a great companion app – Evernote Food – that automatically pulls your recipes stored in Evernote and lets you search more.
It’s also great for manuals and instructions – how do we change the time on the phone system again? No problem – search it in Evernote. No need to bookmark a whole lot of web pages, when the Evernote Clipper lets you capture and store them in Evernote too. We also use it for idea capture, planning, and keeping track of configurations, products, and equipment.
Evernote has free and premium versions for web, iOS and Android.
Use Evernote to:
- keep track of anything and everything in one place, accessible from all your devices
- share what you are tracking with others.
Google Photos—quickly find photos and videos
Do you know how you want to organize all your photos, but never quite get around to it? Google’s new service Google Photos wants to do it for you. Google is applying its search smarts to photos now.
Free storage for all your photos, automatically backed up from all your devices, and organized for you ready to share. Want to find a picture of your dog? Search on “dog” and Google Photo displays all pictures with dogs. This photo search is private to you only, but you can decide to share any or all of your photos however you want.
I especially like the AutoAwesome features. These auto-enhancements can be anything from a group photo with the best smiles from multiple shots, the best lighting, motion animations for sequential shots, panoramic views, and snowflakes in a winter scene. Google also automatically makes stories and albums with highlights from the photos you’ve taken.
Google Photos is free and available on the web, iOS and Android.
Use Google Photos to:
- automatically back up images and videos from all your devices
- easily find and share the images you want
- access your photos and videos from anywhere
- get enhanced pictures, auto awesome effects and stories automatically (it still keeps your original photos too)
Mr. Reader—keep up with the news
Mr. Reader is my preferred way to keep up with news. Feedly and Flipboard are two other news reader tools that also make it easy to read and share news. These tools let you pick topics and sites that interest you and it creates a custom news feed based on new articles in these areas. This feed, including what you’ve already read or made a favorite, is synchronized across devices so you can catch up from any device.
I create my feeds in Feedly which has web, iOS and Android versions, but do most of my reading on my tablet in Mr. Reader which is optimized for the iPad and works with Feedly too. I really like how I can use Mr. Reader to add things I read to Buffer, Twitter (especially automatically tagging Twitter users), Google+ or Facebook, or save to Evernote for reference, or email articles. Articles are formatted for beautiful, ad-free reading on any device.
Mr. Reader is $3.99 for the iPad, but has the most customization and features available if you do a lot of reading. Feedly has free and premium versions for the web, iOS and Android. Flipboard is free for iOS and Android.
Use a news reader to:
- get a personalized news magazine
- keep up on your industry and interests
- curate and easily share content you find
- save time by keeping up with your most important sources without being distracted by kittens and other web memes.
Feedly: http://feedly.com/i/welcome Free and paid versions web iOS Android
Flipboard: https://flipboard.com/ Free web iOS Android
Waze—get where you’re going with less hassle
Waze is a real-time traffic and navigation app. It is community-based so Waze gives you the fastest route based on real-time data coming from the over 50 million Wazers using the app. The first couple of times I used the app, I remember ignoring some directions, thinking “Why is it telling me to go this way – that’s not right” only to find myself in a huge traffic jam or road closure a few minutes later. Now, I have learned to just go the route Waze tells me and I have saved a lot of time.
Wazers can use voice commands to report traffic information, accidents, potholes, and other hazards. You can also get gas prices, share your drive with someone else, and use the social features like friends, chat, and groups.
Waze is free and available on the web, and for iOS and Android.
That’s it for our tool wrap-up. What tools have changed the way you work and made your life easier?