Do you ever feel like you are drowning in email. With each new email, do you fall into the trap of being reactive than proactive? Do you need to organise those thoughts and actions and communicate more effectively? Move over email – here are 4 free productivity tools that really work!
Trello is like a virtual whiteboard where you can start to plan a project or create a list of actions. It’s like using virtual ‘Post It’ notes (yes, I was once guilty of this…).
You can organise your ‘whiteboard’ by ‘dragging and dropping’, labelling or categorising your cards anyway you want. The beauty with each plan, list or idea you post, is the ability to add further details, actions, checklists and files. You can invite people to your boards and even assign people tasks. For a more detailed description of how to use Trello checkout the TimeDoctorblog, How to Use Trello to Manage a Remote Team.
I’ve had a Slack account for sometime. The reason it has taken me so long to get Slack ‘off the ground’ in my personal and working life is because the effectiveness of Slack will depend on others willing to ditch email and adopt the platform (argh!). That being said, I will keep trying to get people on-board, because this is an awesome platform for structuring, project specific, team communications.
It works like this:
- You create a team and invite people;
- People need to accept the invite;
- You can then add people to specific ‘channels of communication’
Each team is given a unique url and each channel a hashtag. You can flick between teams and channels quickly and easily.
If used well, Slack keeps the conversation relevant. You communicate ‘on topic’ and if you share all the channels with your team then people can view threads and jump-in to contribute to the conversation. You also have the option to keep conversations private. It integrates with a bunch of other applications (including Trello) and the mobile app allows you to communicate on the go.
In my job I need to screen share a lot. However screen dumps via email is a much longer process, than a 15 min phone call to discuss a project via screen share.
I stumbled across Join.me and haven’t looked back. The free option allows you to share your screen with a url link (which means that your guest need not download any apps on their desktop) and at time of writing I could invite up to 10 participants. Additional functionality can be purchased with the pro and enterprise versions.
Ok, I digress by suggesting this tool, as Canva isn’t going to reduce your inbox. But this is a fun, quick and very useful graphic design tool when you need to create imagery for your blog, social media, presentations, posters etc. Canva also has some brilliant infographic layouts all free for use.
My one gripe is that you can’t advance filter on Canva’s image catalog and free image options are limited. Therefore I recommend going to free image sites like Pixabay or Comfight and uploading images to your Canva account. You can then use the tool to modify an image for your purpose with Canva’s design and layout options. Sharing your Canva creations is also super easy and there are plenty of different file formats which enable you to take your design online or to print. Check out this blog post for more free image sources.
Hope you find these free productivity tools helpful. The problem with email is that ‘old-habits-die-hard’ and people don’t like change….but be consistent and force yourself and those around you to get onboard with these new platforms – because they really can work!