I’m going to offer a few alternatives to tools and services that are the cause of countless business headaches. All of these tools are made to help you work faster and think about what you’re working on rather than how you’re doing it.
Revising Documents by Email
Some of the greatest headaches I’ve experienced in business settings have come from trying to manage document revisions by e-mail. It doesn’t take long for various editors to make changes out of sync with each other.
I took a page from New York Times writer David Pogue and incorporated online storage service Dropbox into my workflow. There’s still some hiccups, but it’s progress.
Using E-Mail for Just About All Communications
There are business and productivity gurus who make a good fortune providing suggestions for managing e-mail. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you have the resources, you can make things much simpler by incorporating the enterprise social network Yammer.
It’s like Facebook or Twitter for just your business. It’s easier to use and faster than e-mail.
Notepads and Word Processors (for taking notes)
If you’re using Microsoft Word as your virtual notepad, do yourself a favor and use a dedicated notes app instead. Microsoft makes a fine one called OneNote, but I’m partial to Evernote. You can create and find notes easily with either tool; you won’t have a group of files to contend with.
However You Do Invoices Now
I don’t know anyone that likes invoices. The good news is you can greatly reduce the time you spend filling them out, sending them, organizing them, tracking them and much more with online accounting service Kashoo.
PowerPoint (and PP Presentations)
If you’re a Mac user, you won’t regret switching over to Apple’s Keynote. It’s better in a million little ways than PowerPoint.
Still, whether or not you use Powerpoint, you can spice things up with unique looking charts from amCharts. And instead of those awful PowerPoint handouts, give your audience a link to your slides on Slide Rocket.
I actually don’t hate this one, but many, many people do. If you’re looking for a tool for writing rough drafts, use full-screen text editor Writeroom or its Windows equivalent WriteMonkey. The downside to both tools is you’ll likely need to copy and paste your material onto a Word document for formatting.
Also, try Pages if you’re on a Mac.
And finally, you can always learn MS Word in-depth. Word is much easier to use when you know its keyboard shortcuts and how to manage styles. Trust me.
We’re supposed to create wild and unique passwords for each site we log into, forcing us to use systems to track them. Using a spreadsheet or a physical notepad is time-consuming and not very secure. Web browser password tools help, but each browser has its own system.
Instead, use multi-platform password management tool LastPass. It stores your passwords securely and lets you access them on any browser at home, work, or wherever you have LastPass installed (which can be a smartphone or tablet).
Whiteboards are handy for collaborating and sharing ideas and information. But they’re ugly. And they’re prone to streaks. Glass whiteboards offer improved technology to eliminate both problems.
Your Computer Operating System Windows Management Scheme
If you’re anything like me, you might use 2,4,5 programs at once on a desktop computer to accomplish work tasks. This leaves you spending untold gobs of time shuffling windows around and looking for certain open documents and rearranging your desktop.
All those bridge numbers, pins, and hoops to jump through can be too much effort for staff conference calls. Save everyone trouble and integrate web conferencing service Go to Meeting or a messaging service like Skype into your process.
Photo via Flickr by Zach Klein