Being part of an agile tech team with a wide array of abilities and responsibilities requires some serious organization and communication skills. For us at Blink;Tech, this means being able to get to information quickly and share that information seamlessly with the rest of the team. The following tools are invaluable to each of us, and we use all of them every day.
Steve, Content Developer/Social Media Manager
I’ve been using Hootsuite for social media for years, and I love it. Because I am one of those people who really appreciates my time “off grid,” I love that I can schedule clients’ campaigns in advance, and respond to engagement at my convenience. It is well worth the monthly subscription rate just to have the publishing calendar, where I can set things up day by day, or get a great view of the whole month.
I also appreciate that I can check engagement through Hootsuite without getting caught up in my Facebook or Twitter feeds, which are both notorious time-sucks for me. We can also get pretty good analytics to tweak our campaigns as necessary. Of course, as the social media infrastructure continues to advance and evolve, it’s always nice to have the Hootsuite University options to help stay ahead of the game.
Bob, B2B Expert/Account Manager
My home office workstation is a large display hooked into my laptop with a remote keyboard (which sits in my lap) and a trackball mouse. I find it annoying to constantly switch devices to answer the phone or a text, or to use my Android apps.AirDroid allows me to access and manage my Android phone directly from Windows wirelessly, and for free. It also works with Mac.
AirDroid delivers mobile notifications to your computer and lets you send texts, receive calls, respond to notifications, and drag and drop files between the devices. If I need a document for a meeting and don’t want to disconnect from my workstation, I just drag and drop the doc to my phone. If I’ve taken some photos with my phone, and I want to manipulate them on my computer (so much easier than on the phone), I just drag and drop them.
Once you’ve installed the AirDroid app on your phone or tablet, you simply go to web.airdroid.com using your computer’s browser. From there you can access your Android device. AirDroid works over both Wi-Fi and mobile data connections. The app itself is free, though some features require a $20-per-year premium subscription.
Greg, SEO/SEM Manager
ighome – My everyday starts with this handy homepage app for Internet browsers. Not only does it act as my newspaper with news and weather, but the bookmarks widget keeps my most-used web links close at hand, no matter what device or browser I am using.
Notepad – This ultra-simple text editing program is both a handy notepad for jotting down ideas, meeting notes, phone numbers, etc., and it’s also the perfect tool for quickly scrubbing formatting from text copied from other apps and programs. It comes with every Windows OS. On a Mac, search for TextEdit.
Google Drive – Fantastic for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets, forms, maps, drawings and files. How did we ever live without this?
Sara, Content Manager
Toggl – Without Toggl, my workday would … okay, I don’t even want to think about a workday without Toggl. Our most precious resource at Blink;Tech is time, and this is the best time tracker I’ve ever used. A free, browser-based app, Toggl runs smoothly and quietly behind the scenes while I edit copy, post to social media, brainstorm with my teammates, and interface with clients. Switching hats and bouncing between different tasks used to feel highly unproductive in my pre-Toggl days. Now with just a click, Toggl ensures every second counts while I work. Multitasking is still a myth, but Toggl makes me feel like a productivity legend.
Yerba Mate – Last year I got sick and tired — literally — of waking up with coffee every day. So, I kicked java to the curb and started a steamy, occasionally iced, but always passionate affair with yerba mate. Indigenous to the central and southern regions of South America, yerba mate has been cultivated and consumed for hundreds of years. The tea made from dried leaves and twigs tastes like an earthy green tea, and contains less caffeine than the average cup of coffee. (Sources say mate contains 30-85 mg of caffeine per eight ounces, where coffee contains 100-200 mg.) It also packs a big nutritional punch: Mate leaves naturally contain 24 vitamins and minerals and 15 amino acids, and they’re rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and polyphenols. No wonder it’s the national drink of Argentina! As far as being my go-to “energy drink,” mate helps me feel alert and sustains my focus with zero jitters, headaches, or icky acid belly. You bet I don’t miss coffee breath, either.
Paul, Company Founder/Development Team Leader
Today, professional and personal proficiency are one and the same to the organizationally-minded person. In both sectors, the high performer is the individual capable of maximizing the one aspect of life to which we are all enslaved: time.
In the past five years, between the introduction of new tools and the refactoring of old ones, we have the option of outperforming the previous working generation by a factor of 2:1. Here are some tidbits that sit at the top of my toolbox.
Conventions – In our company, the implementation of sensible and creative conventions helps us perform faster and with minimal errors. Anyone who has ever worked in a non-standard environment knows how much time can be wasted in reinventing the wheel. Conventions save the day.
Dual Monitors – Add a monitor to my laptop, and you will see my work throughput jump 15 to 25%. Sometimes I carry one in the car when traveling.
Asana – This is a lightweight, brilliant task management system we adopted two years ago. I believe it’s greatly responsible for our team’s ability to handle large volumes of tasks with minimal casualties.
Skype – Communication is everything, and second to it is historical data about that communication. In tandem with Asana, Skype offers a one-two punch to turn the average “lean-and-mean” team member into a terrifying asset against the opposition.
At the day’s end, when my toolbox has added 30 minutes before the sunset, I shut the cover, tap on it, and say, “Thank you and well done!”