Productivity Services 101 2

I mentioned in a previous posts productivity tools that I use. By definition these tools or services must help me be more productive, thus they should be easy to use and take as little of my time as possible to administer. Some notion of automation should apply so as to save as much time as possible… for example connecting Task Lists with Calendar. Also in order to adopt GTD methodology (Again I will talk about GTD later on) I need to have these tools available anywhere at any time, so mobility is a big issue as well. Things like traveling, visiting a client, changing jobs or even breaking your PC should affect your productivity workflow or data. In a perfect world I would add collaboration in my requirements, but until I can convince my wife to use a calendar that can sync with mine, I’ll just stick to single user solutions. Since am talking about making things easier lets sum the requirements into bullet points:

  • More productivity 
  • Little administration time
  • Automation
  • Integration of services
  • Mobility
  • Accessibility 
  • Collaboration

Having the above requirements in mind it is obvious that must have a combination of online – offline capability in our tools and sync services from multiple devices (including mobile). So the plan is to use online services and sync through various devices. Ideally each productivity tool should have at least three versions:

  • Web (Browser) version with real time updates
  • Desktop versions with offline and sync capabilities 
  • Mobile versions with offline and sync capabilities

So what kind of applications do we need in order to be more productive. Here’s a list that tools that help me.

They are not only for surfing but also to support web applications. Some browser plug ins can be very productive as well, such as web clippings for Evernote.

Communications (email/phone e.t.c.)
The email account can act as a master account where everything else is connected. Other than being able to communicate with others, emails act as notifications as well for the rest of the services mentioned below. Some web email services now offer voice, video and SMS communication as well. Gmail now with the addition of Google + offers free web conferencing capabilities. Emails are often used for input for other services as well, for example you can add a note on Evernote by sending an email to a specified email address.

Office Suites (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations)
For years many people and businesses have used desktop office applications to bust their productivity and their knowledge but in a somewhat unmanaged and chaotic way. The early idea of mobile productivity was to edit office content from mobile devices. Spreadsheets still provide a powerful tool in the battle for productivity and speed as they can be used in a wide range of problems. For example I now use a spreadsheet from my iPad synced with Dropbox, to record car specs from a questioner i prepared, which automatically weights in the answers and rates each model to help me make a better decision on which car to buy (maybe that’s a little extreme but hey it helps). I personally try to avoid using word processors or presentation software for only when it is needed, printing and projector presentations respectively.

File Syncs
I am talking about Dropbox of course and other services that are similar. The uses of these services are only limited by your imagination. You can have identical work-spaces in countless clients (devices). They also work well with a lot of applications’ data files providing cloud capabilities to what used to be only desktop applications. For example 1Password (password manager) uses Dropbox to sync its application data with say your iPad.  You can also share files with others through these services … no need to set up FTPs and stuff. Needless to say you that you can use desktop office files with Dropbox and thus turn your account into a cloud office. 

If your anything like me you probably need a good calendar service more than anything. The frequency of change in our lives is so great that we have to remember a great deal of custom events each day, either for work, personal, family or even legal obligations. There is no such thing as a routine day in the life of a professional. I wouldn’t be able to make it without the help of my good old friend Google Calendar and its sync with my mobile.

Task Management / To-do lists
One could argue why use tasks when you could use a calendar. The key is to combine the two and have a combination of static tasks and event tasks on your calendar and have a unified notification system … you can even integrate your email services if you like for more detailed notifications. Also task management systems help you keep your priorities straight and achieve your goals … step by step. I already talked about toodledo in a previous post

Notes, Content, Knowledge Management
Oh boy this is so awesome. I call it Anything Management simply because I can store just about anything in there whether its a web clipping from my browser, a screenshoot from my desktop, a receipt i just scanned, an electrical wiring drawing for my house, an xml file with settings for my application, minutes from my latest meeting, a recipe for my favorite dish … ok you get the picture. And all that categorized in to multiple nested tags. The possibilities are endless, as long as you categorize correctly. This HAS to be a cloud service since it’s power comes from the ease of input. For example you can scan a document or take a photo from your mobile and store it directly into Evernote. GTD can also apply here.

Password Management
Boy this is a tough one. Ok the password thing was easy when we had 1or 2 accounts. As the accounts kept growing many simply used the same username and password for everything. That’s is a big NO NO. I repeat DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR EVERYTHING. If someone learns the credentials for one of your account you are Hucked with an F. But hey we are only humans, we need some help on this one. Thankfully there are a lot of solutions out there, some of them can even create strong passwords for you that you wouldn’t even dream of remembering them your self… all you need to do is remember one universal password and make sure its a strong one. Integration with your browser is a must, so that you do not type anything your self or copy into clear text the sensitive credentials.  Some solutions are cloud based, others are client based with Dropbox sync. I suggest you make your choice wisely here and take into consideration the security aspect more than the mobility or manageability.

A combination of the above tools can help do so much more such as:

Budget, Inventory, Invoices, Time Tracking, Project Management, Online collaboration, Travel Management, Decision Making Process, Modeling (not talking about fashion 🙂 ) , Notification Systems, Automation, Bookmark Management.

2 thoughts on “Productivity Services 101

  1. Pingback: » Phone + Camera + Tablet = Laptop

  2. Pingback: » Getting Organized with Evernote – GTD Methodology

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