I’m considering a Chromebook for work. The appeal is both practical and intuitive. Practical because I do a lot of work online. Intuitive because I feel the lure of “the cloud.” The tools available to support work in the cloud are Ah-mazing.

Plus I’ve never much liked the Microsoft suite of products. Sure they work fine. There’s nothing “wrong” with them — but as tools to rely on, I feel like I’ve “tolerated” more than loved them.

In researching  Chromebook I’ve concluded that I won’t be able to ditch my PC entirely. There are some things (editing images for blog and Facebook posts for example) that I’ll need it for.

But for most tasks, I’ve switched to tools I’ll eventually use on my Chromebook. Which means I already use (and love) them because they can be used on any PC!

Here they are:

Word Processing: Google Drive

I resisted Google Drive, back when it was Google Docs. My first exposure to it was a few years ago when a writing client sent me a draft in a Google Doc. I thought “what the heck IS this?” It was unfamiliar, and therefore inconvenient. My client was patient as I stubbornly converted everything she sent me into a Word document and returned it as an email attachment.

It wasn’t until I learned the true power of document sharing — versus passing things back and forth via email — that I became a fervent fan of Google Drive. Sharing is much more efficient, and, dare I say, professional. While Google Drive doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that Word does, for straight up writing and sharing it’s the bomb. I love it. It has capability to create documents, spreadsheets, forms and drawings.

I use Drive to write blog posts, drafts and stuff I need to share.

Organizing: Evernote

Evernote has changed the way I approach organizing. I signed up for the free version in 2011,  underestimated it’s power, and my account sat dormant for three years. I reactivated it recently and have experienced a bonanza of organizing power and information at my fingertips. I’ve just dipped below the surface in terms of using it to its full capacity.

The storage is huge, even on the free account, and it has a PC and online version. Even though I have Evernote on my PC I find myself using the online version most of the time. Habits!

I use Evernote to store everything. From emails to documents, to pdfs, to website articles I want to refer back to.

Electronic Task List: Todoist

I’ve always hated keeping track of to dos on paper. I know it works for some people but to me it feels sloppy, disorganized and scary (because what if I lose the paper the task is written on and I miss something important? Scary!). Since Google’s task feature is anemic I had to find something more powerful and easy to use.

After trying out many task apps I chose Todoist because it does everything I need in an electronic task list: it keeps my tasks in one place and is easy to organize. Most importantly I can use it to turn gmails into tasks which helps keep my Inbox close to empty.

I use Todoist to keep track of every single task I need to get done.

Reading: Feedly

I thought I was going to die when Google announced it was retiring Reader. How was I going to keep track of all the blogs I read? Thankfully Feedly came along and saved the day. With an easy to use interface that’s much better looking than Reader I don’t have to worry that I’ll miss out on reading my favorite blogs throughout the week.

I use Feedly to keep the blogs I read nice and organized and there for me when I want to read them. [Note: Feedly is one of those apps that I just KNOW I’m not using to its full potential. It does more than just house feeds for reading — I may need to do a separate post on it later]

Social Media Sharing/Scheduling: Buffer

I can’t remember where I first heard about Buffer but thank goodness I did. It’s the best scheduling tool I’ve found. Buffer makes scheduling FUN! It is such a relief to schedule with a tool that doesn’t feel cumbersome or annoying. Once you get the hang of it (there’s a small learning curve) it’s easy to schedule and move stuff around. AND if you’re stuck on what to post, they even have daily content suggestions for you!

I use Buffer to schedule my personal Twitter feed and the Frankly Good Coffee Facebook page.

Organizing Twitter Lists: Hootsuite

I avoided Twitter for a long time because it felt too confusing, overwhelming, and like life was passing me by every time I signed in. When I bought into the idea of using it to connect with folks I would not otherwise have the opportunity to meet, I knew I needed a system.

So one weekend afternoon I sat down and for every person I was following, asked myself WHY. A handful of categories emerged, and now I can keep up with the folks I want to keep up with, whether in real time or not.

I check into Hootsuite periodically to see what the people on my lists are up to. It’s a wonderful way to start a conversation or find content to share.

Email: Gmail

My friend Danielle introduced me to gmail several years ago and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven (in my defense I was using hotmail at the time for personal email and hated it — couldn’t make the switch fast enough).

Gmail is powerful because it makes it easy to send and receive communication from different email addresses. It has powerful tools to filter and file and has ample storage space. At this point I’m so deep in I’d be hard pressed to leave gmail. Ever. The thing is, I don’t want to.

Bonus Online Tool : Google timer

If you block out time during the day to focus on one thing, or if you keep track of your time for work, or any reason really, go to Google and type in:

timer: 30 minutes

I was using the timer on my phone before hearing about this nifty tool. So simple, yet so crazy good.

What are your favorite online tools?

2 Comments on Seven Online Tools I Use to Stay Organized and Productive

  1. Stefanie Frank
    February 20, 2014 at 8:26 AM (4 years ago)

    Bill I recently read an article that Feedly went from 1 million users to 15 million practically overnight because of Reader’s retirement. Talk about right place right time.

    I also used that opportunity to evaluate which blogs to keep and which to toss. It’s good to do that now and again.

  2. Bill
    February 19, 2014 at 10:02 PM (4 years ago)

    I was in the same boat as you when Google announced that Reader was going the way of the dodo. I absolutely loved that platform, but it turned out to be a good thing. I culled my list of followed blogs from ~300 (talk about taking time to read) to ~40, but went over to Old Reader, which was created to look similar to Reader. But it was a labor of love amongst a few friends and they were quickly overwhelmed. Drama there that’s not worth spending time on here. So I moved over to Feedly. I didn’t like it, but couldn’t find something suitable. Eight months later and I love Feedly. Good stuff.

    Evernote and Todoist look quite handy. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to check them out, especially as I look at the pile of 2×2″ notes and steno pad pages in front of my keyboard.

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