Happy January! You may remember that this time last year, I shared 14 online tools that make life so much easier. In the spirit of making your 2017 better (because, let’s face it, 2016 was a trainwreck in so many ways), I wanted to share with you 9 of my favorite tech tools. I use these apps DAILY and would be completely lost without them.
Asana [Project Management]
Asana is my go-to project management and productivity tool. Although I’ve tried other workflow organization platforms (including DuetApp and Trello), Asana is the only tool I’ve found that includes everything I need to organize a project from start to finish:
- Control over user permissions
- Ability to create and manage multiple teams and projects
- Ability to create and copy my own project templates
- Assigning due dates and team members to subtasks
- Hosting for documents and images
- Comments within tasks and subtasks
- Tagging team members within comments and descriptions
I really could go on, but that will have to wait for another blog post! The long and short of it is that Asana is the best project management tool I’ve found, and even the free version is amazing. Currently, I use Asana to organize my client’s blog and social media schedule. Seriously, if I could just program the subtasks of everyday life into Asana too, I probably would. (Subtask: Make sure you have your wallet!)
Slack [Internal Communication]
Logic states… there was life before Slack. I can’t remember it.
Think about the number of emails you’ve received where folks wasted server space to send you a simple, “Ok, got it”. Imagine a platform that allows you to seamlessly communicate with your entire team via direct message. That’s just the beginning of Slack.
This isn’t a tech tool that you can just “try out” by yourself to see if it would be a good fit for your team. EVERYONE needs to be on it and using it regularly to make it work, but I PROMISE it’s worth it! I use Slack exclusively for internal communication between me and my freelancers. Each client project gets a “Channel” (ex: #gocommandoblog), and then the appropriate contractors are added to that channel.
TIP: Slack + Asana = Productivity Dream Team. When you integrate Slack with Asana, whenever a team member updates their subtasks within Asana, you can see the project update within Slack as well. (Insert excited squealing here.)
Slack primarily lets you send direct messages, things that you may have used Google Chat for in the past. However, as mentioned above, it also lets the team quickly see project updates. Think of it like an email where you can CC everyone and their brother, but without causing inbox clutter apocalypse.
(I’m also a huge fan of “reactions” within Slack, allowing you to acknowledge and comment on someone’s post without actually having to respond with a “Will do”.)
Zapier [Third Party Application Integration]
App Integrations are awesome, that is until you discover an integration isn’t built into the platform. Enter: Zapier.
Zapier is an application that connects everything together, and by everything, I mean the 750+ best apps on the internet including Google Sheets, Asana, Instagram, email, and more.
I use Zapier to help manage my AwesomeMitten.com contributing writers. Observe my Zapier witchcraft:
- Contributing writer submits an application on AwesomeMitten.com through a form via Wufoo.
- The data will feed into a Google Sheet via Zapier.
- When a new row is added to that sheet, a new task is created in Asana, also via Zapier.
- I get a notification via Asana with the writer’s information in a task with a due date within 24 hours.
There are a million different possibilities with Zapier. I love it because I can connect EVERYTHING to a Google Spreadsheet, and then spit that data onto whatever tool I need it to be delivered to. In other words, Zapier allows me to have sortable Google Sheets and then send the data to where it needs to go.
Additionally, it means that I don’t have to worry about whether my online tech tools can integrate with each other. As long as I know that the tool I’m considering will integrate with Zapier, I can set up Zaps to integrate them myself.
Grum.co [Instagram Scheduling and Posting]
There are a lot of tools out there (like my favorite social scheduling tool, Buffer) that allow you to schedule Instagram posts, but all they do is send you a push notification on your phone when it’s time to publish. Grum is a tech tool that actually publishes to Instagram for you.
It’s an extremely basic tool with no analytics, no commenting, and no liking – just scheduling and posting. It’s also super affordable: for 10 Instagram accounts, I only pay $30 per month. The tool even has team features allowing me to give members of my team (and clients) access to specific Instagram accounts.
This tool has been a GAME CHANGER in painlessly implementing my Instagram strategy. I didn’t want to interrupt my Friday night at the movies to post something to Instagram, but that’s the highest engagement time. In the past, I had to suck it up and wait for my push notifications. With Grum.co, movie nights have been saved!
VSCO [Photo Editing]
I use this app for advanced photo editing, and it makes me feel like I don’t completely suck at taking pictures! I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the photos I publish thanks to the VSCO app, available for both Android and iPhone.
TIP: Don’t drink and make in-app purchases. I may or may not have been a little tipsy-ish one night… and bought ALL of the available filters. Many times now, I feel crippled by too many choices. Learn from my mistake and stick to under 10 filters, and you should be good to go.
Wave Apps [Invoicing, Payments, and Bookkeeping]
Raise your hand if you don’t like doing math!
Wave Apps has been a lifesaver for me when it comes to sending invoices to my clients, processing payments, and (cheers) bookkeeping. This tech tool is so simple, intuitive, and (my favorite part) free to use.
Invoicing with Wave Apps makes bookkeeping dead simple, and the app includes features like invoice design, estimates, recurring invoices, late payment reminders, and more!
MixMax [Email Tracking & Scheduling via Gmail]
MixMax is a Gmail plugin that allows you to track email opens, set automations, and schedule email sends. It’s kind of like your own, small-scale email marketing platform that integrates right into your personal Gmail account.
- Track your emails to see who opened them and when
- Create and share templates with your team (onboarding emails, prospecting emails, etc.)
- Create and automate drip emails
- TIP: Pop a contact to receive a series of emails (onboarding and prospecting are good use cases here as well)
- Track downloads and clicks to see who opened your attachments and clicked on your links
- Schedule emails
- TIP: I clean out my inbox on Sundays, but I don’t want people to feel like they have to respond on a weekend. Instead, I schedule my emails to send on Monday morning!
Wordable.io [Export Google Docs to WordPress]
Why waste your precious time formatting your Google Doc content for WordPress when Wordable.io can do it for you?
This app allows you to export a Google Doc into WordPress (gues show this blog post got here?), and the magic doesn’t stop there.
- All links are automatically configured to “Open in a New Tab” (SEO magic!).
- Export heading and other important document formatting.
- Wordable.io also imports PHOTOS!
- If you upgrade from the free version, you can use this with multiple WordPress installations.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of every content creator’s dream coming true.
Considering my running track record for integrations and standardization, it should be no surprise that I will sing the praises of Google EVERYTHING. Let me count the ways…
Use Google Apps for email, because why would you use anything else OTHER than G Suite from Google Cloud (Side Note: Dumb name Google. Way to fail on the rebranding). The G Suite plans are really affordable, plus you get the entire suite for as low as $5 a month. Also, you can maintain more control over shared Docs in Google Drive.
Love it. Enough said. If I had to elaborate, I would add that Google Calendar is one of the cleanest calendars I’ve worked with, and it makes scheduling meetings, inviting clients, and launching Google Chats from a calendar invite painfully easy. Love it so much.
Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, oh my! (#SorryNotSorry, I couldn’t resist).
Power up your Google Drive applications with with add-ons like “Change Case”, “Remove Duplicates”, and “Yet Another Mail Merge” to make them as powerful as the Microsoft Suite. Plus, estimate presets like fonts and headings to make sure that everyone in your organization has documents that will match your company branding guidelines (without having to change it on EVERY document you create).
Own 2017 Like a Boss With the Right Tech Tools
I’d seriously be lost without these tools, and I’d to hear about your experiences with them as well! Keep watching my blog for tips and reviews on the best new apps to make the simple things even simpler. You can even get them delivered to your inbox when you sign up for my email newsletter. See? You’re more productive already!