In previous installments of From Our Desk To Yours, we’ve talked about collaborating with remote teams and some top tips for managing relationships with customers – as always we like to find and use the best tools for our purposes and implement them, with a little planning, as simply and effectively as possible.
As a company that develops products that enable people from all over the world to record video and audio from their computers, we’ve spent lots of time talking to remote workers at Applian and elsewhere about how to get things done away from the office.
What we’ve learned is this: the tools that empower instantaneous access to information and communication with others are the same tools that bury us all under unmanageable masses of stuff. Just as in the days of pen and paper (reams and reams of paper!), today’s most effective workers, be they remote or on-site, are those who can organize the deluge of documents, communications and information we all create as we work digitally. Finding your paperweights – those tools that will not just get your head above the rising waters of your inboxes but actively help you turn all that unorganized stuff into useful, accessible, insight-precipitating business intelligence data – has never been more important.
Here are some hopefully helpful tidbits on how to stay in control of your work data:
- Consolidation Apps
There are so many excellent (and excellently designed) note taking, task managing and to-do listing applications out there it can be tough to decide on just one. We particularly love the robust cross-platform giant Evernote (on which, between the Developers Marketplace and API, nearly any administrative task can be accomplished), and also like OneNote for awesome synchronization with Microsoft Office. Our advice is to choose one and consolidate all your notes, research and to-dos within one singular tool. When you funnel all your data into one place, search, tag and categorization features all increase their power and in turn, how effective you are at finding your ideas and reminders.
- Meeting Schedulers
How many emails does it take to schedule a team meeting? Sounds like the beginning of a dry office joke, right? And the unfortunate truth is the punch line tends to be a TON of messages. Enter a relatively new breed of service: the appointment scheduler. We appreciate Acuity to allow you and colleagues to easily plug in your calendar of choice and automatically find mutually convenient times for everyone. There’s also a slew of helpful mobile calendar apps to check out, depending on your device and particular needs on-the-go. So long awkward scheduling back and forths.
- Inbox Management
Besides keeping all your stuff together and using technology to actively cut down on the number of messages you have to send/receive, Gmail and other email platforms offer tools and plugins to make your overall email experience more productive. Our favorites are the Chrome plug-in, Minimalist for Everything, which allows you to customize stylesheets and scripting (a little CSS knowledge required) to rid you of Gmail ads and create a look and feel you love. We also enjoy Boomerang to schedule email so you can stay productive and remain timely.
- Support for your Support
We’ve mentioned it before, but Zendesk is our number one must-have platform for making sure that our customer service team is fully backed and 100% ready for every and any ticket that might come their way. With their integrations and Marketplace, it’s easy to find exactly the tool needed, from creating customer feedback forms to complex interactive decision trees, Zendesk always has what we’re looking for to keep our support organized.
Whatever you use, we’d love to hear your tips and tricks for remaining productive at work. We’re always trying out new services, and if you’ve got one that we just shouldn’t live without, let us know in the comments or tweet us the link on Twitter! We hope these tools help you as much as they help us everyday.