Hey Enlightened Managers!
Over the last few weeks I've been de-cluttering my software and systems, and trying to identify the tools that I can't live without, so I can get rid of the rest. Here are my current top five. What are yours?
Keep in mind that some of these tools are well known and not terribly sexy. But once you start using them well, even an ordinary resource can become extraordinary.
1. For Productivity: Outlook by Microsoft
Outlook is the grand central station of my workflow.
How I Use my Calendar: Aside from pre-set appointments, I pull up my calendar every Friday and load up the following week by taking items off my to-do list and placing them on my calendar. These days my exercise routine goes in first, followed by everything else I need to do. If an item is due but does not fit, I re-prioritize, delegate, or negotiate.
How I Keep my Inbox (Nearly) Empty: I use an "action folder" system taught to me by the smart folks over at Innovatively Organized. Here is a link to the webinar.
2. For Tasks: Toodledo.com
Toodledo is a web-based to do list that is highly customizable. I embed the website directly into outlook 2010 by creating a folder under "My Tasks" and then setting the home page to toodledo.com. This way I can see my task list inside Outlook without opening a web browser.
How I Organize My Tasks: I use a time horizon based system from Michael Linenberger's Book "Master Your Workday Now." Once you get over the learning curve, it makes sense like nothing else ever has for task management.
An Added Bonus: I manage a lot of projects, but my needs are far too simple for software like MS Project. The "Outlines" feature in Toodledo can help you build a simple and useful project plan.
3. For Remote File Access: Dropbox
Imagine it. You drive to an important client meeting and you begin talking about a past project that they are very interested in. If only you had the documentation from that project! Oh wait, you do! It's in your dropbox and you can pull it up on the spot.
4. For Training: Camtasia & SnagIt
Even if you are not a training professional like me, chances are that you teach people things, right? With Camtasia and SnagIt you can quickly record your screen, voice, and webcam to create a lesson, then with a click publish it to YouTube or your corporate internet.
Yes, you only have to show someone how to log into your corporate software ONCE. Then just send them the link to the video. Easy peasy.
5. For Meetings: Skype
I used to think that Skype was only for long distance meetings. When I am coaching a manager on the east coast, Skype lets us have face to face conversations, so long as we plan around time zones correctly.
Things shifted when I started having local meetings over Skype. I mean, think about it. Let's say you have a fifteen minute walk to get to a meeting. That's thirty minutes of unproductive time. Then you may need to wait on the person. Why not simply call up each others smiling faces at precisely the meeting time, and then be back to work as soon as you hang up?
It all adds up!
I'd love to hear what your favorite technology tools are. Why not leave us a comment so we can check them out?