When it comes to simplifying your job, collaboration and communication are key. And with millions of apps out there just waiting to make your life easier, simplifying your workload is a piece of cake. Why work the manual way when you can automate your tasks and use digital applications to streamline your processes? Here are six of our favorite collaborative apps.
Slack sums up their app in three simple words: Be less busy. This ultimate messaging application gives teams an easy-to-use portal where they can have real-time conversations, direct messaging or private group chats for confidential topics. You can also share files by simply dragging and dropping them to anyone (Slack also syncs with Google Drive, Dropbox or Box for easy sharing). Set up all notifications to run through this one app—from social media to support requests. Offering all the tools you need to get down to business, Slack keeps you from switching back and forth between apps. And, if you ever need to find something, every conversation, file and notification is searchable within an archive.
This cloud service takes digital file storage to a whole new level. Just ask companies like Hyatt and National Geographic, both of whom trust Dropbox to store their data and keep it accessible and secure. This app allows for easy sharing within your team. Access your files anytime, from anywhere and experience a new level of productivity.
Paper is actually Dropbox’s version of a real-time collaboration tool. Say you create a document and want your manager, Susan, to edit it. You add her to the file and the moment she clicks, you get a notification that Susan is viewing the file. You can then watch your screen as she types, edits, deletes, or comments. Different team members are given colors to keep track of who is editing what, and you can view all the document history since the moment of creation. So what’s the difference between Paper and Dropbox? With Dropbox, you have to download files or use a third-party software to real-time edit. With Paper, everything is streamlined and you no longer need to have Word or a license for Word Online in order to collaborate with your team. If you have Dropbox, you absolutely must use Paper. It’s a game-changer.
By keeping your team’s communication clear and organized in one place, you will always be on the same page. Categorized chat rooms generate productive discussions, task management lets you see what’s done and what’s in the queue, and access from all devices gives you the freedom to communicate with your team no matter where you are. You may think keeping communication together won’t make a huge difference, but you’re wrong. Once your team is all on the same page and ideas are shared instantaneously, you’ll wonder why you didn’t Flow from the start.
5. Office 365
Office 365 is your office on-the-go. Create, edit and share using the latest versions of Office, market your company with customized marketing materials and easily communicate with clients and team members. Utilize avenues such as email, IM, joint calendars and video conferencing to stay synced with your team—all from any device, at any time and from any location. If you don’t have Office 365, you aren’t maximizing your company’s potential.
The ultimate mind mapping and concept collaboration application, MindMeister lets you collaborate in real time by developing your own ideas and sharing to create a digital brainstorm. Share mind maps with your team via email, social media, or make them public to really get the ideas going. Then build presentations to give your audience a visual journey of your ideas. Additional features include customized map designs, map exporting, map embedding, task management and easy attachments from Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote. Sounds like the perfect answer for that absent-minded genius who can never keep his/her thoughts together enough to produce. Or anyone who really wants to explore their creativity and mapping ability.
As human beings, we consciously notice things that make us seem unkempt, unwise, or unsanitary. In other words, we actively have a tendency to notice things that appear unprofessional.
There are things we do every day that we look back on and regret. Or, at the very least, wish we would have done a little differently. It could be anything: how you responded to an email, the way you phrased something, how it looked when you walked across the room, what you wore, how you sneezed, the way that pasta made your breath smell, etc.
And unfortunately, there are certain habits that are impossible to recover from. Basically, if you do the following things, “you” and “professional” will never again be used in the same sentence. So read on and take notes so that you’ll never be “that person” in the office.
Here are the four categories that will get you to that point of no return.
Please, be serious for once.
We have all encountered that work colleague that can never be serious. They are always making jokes and you can never get a solid answer from them, even with a deadline approaching. And the more you ask them to be serious, the more they act goofy and silly.
Why does this behavior drive normal people insane? Well, because in a business context, this level of silly is annoying and unrealistic. Don’t get us wrong, keeping others in a good mood has its place and time, and a happy work environment is always a good thing. But when tasks fall behind or you cannot be productive with those goofy people, their personality becomes more of a headache than a ray of sunshine.
Professionalism requires a healthy balance of optimism and pessimism, ideally sitting in the realism range. Always joking and never taking anything seriously will only make the bad times worse and frustrate other employees.
Is there a desk underneath all of that?
When someone’s workstation looks like a mess, they’re suddenly a mess, too. It doesn’t matter how many showers you take, how expensive your clothes are or where you get your hair cut, you will always be associated with a messy workspace.
And, to a certain degree, it’s true. Your physical appearance may be mess-free. But, if your home, car, desk or drawers are filthy, a part of you is messy, sloppy, unkempt and not fit to do business with. This doesn’t mean your environment has to be 100% clean, 100% of the time. It simply means you need to do your best to stay on top of the seas of junk, clutter, and wrappers. There’s nothing worse than garbage tucked into drawers and behind files, especially when the smell starts to permeate.
Here’s another way to think about it: if a client walked by or a vendor showed up, would they be embarrassed to associate with you?
Can you follow through on anything… ever?
People-pleasers are on the same level as those goofy colleagues. People-pleasers say yes, yes, yes and never say no to anything. Translation intoplain English? They overpromise. They’re in way over their head. They can’t deliver because there’s never enough time in the day.
Further translation? They commonly let peers down, are no real help and ultimately, unprofessional. Always make sure to have your work tasks scheduled as best as possible so you can say no when you need to. And never be afraid to ask for help.
Are you too good to put in your eight hours?
Some of us are morning people and some of us are not. Depending on your chronotype, you biologically function differently than other people. Some of us hit our stride in the mid-afternoon, while others get things done most effectively in the morning. Regardless, whether you come in an hour early or happen to come in late, always stay for your eight hours.
If you work a traditional job and you drag in late day after day and pack up at 4:45, your coworkers will probably start to feel very resentful toward you. And it shows management that you don’t take your job or responsibilities seriously. So instead, if you know you aren’t a morning person, talk to your manager or an executive and see if you can adjust your work schedule. As long as you’re getting your work done efficiently and productively, it shouldn’t matter when your eight hours begins and ends.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is real, it’s growing, and most consumers interact with it on a daily basis. Think of all the data collected from consumers, companies, and devices. Now imagine all of that data being connected in a network of information, an ecosystem of devices that talk to you, each other and the world around them—that is the definition of the IoT. But what is it doing for you? Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly truths of what the Internet of Things can bring to your business.
1. Smarter business
Smarter technology throughout the workplace means smarter business. Features like electronically tracking your inventory and equipment sending you notifications on functionality issues and energy usage create optimum performance and efficiency. We all love the pizza tracker, don’t we? And Amazon’s shipment locator is a gift from above when you’re anxiously waiting for that new cast-iron skillet. Utilize technology to increase your efficiency and foster customer loyalty.
2. More customers
With smartphones and a variety of interactive technology, consumer data is more accessible than ever before. Many customers are willing to share their information through apps and digital interactions, which means you know your customers. And if you know your customers, you know your potential customers.
Using the information you have based on your current customer base,apply that knowledge toward connecting with new consumers. Maybe you’ve learned that most of your demographic is more likely to make purchases in the evening. Creating an evening sale or late-shopper incentive could be a great way to find new buyers.
3. Higher security risks
The more information you have, the more you have to lose. With data breaches becoming a regular occurrence, it’s more important than ever to secure your information for both your company and your customers. Consumers trust you with their data, but one breach can change that forever. Building credibility is a long road, and once it’s damaged, it takes even longer to re-build.
4. More competition
You aren’t the only company with this consumer data gold. Other businesses are collecting this information as well, and they know what to do with it. Your company needs to stay innovative and use the data to create better business and better products. Staying ignorant of the latest and greatest will not only make you fall behind, but your customers will notice your lack of innovation and knowledge.
5. More revenue
If used correctly, the IoT can bring you more customers, more efficiency and more data to work with—which all result in increased revenue. It’s all about how you connect, how you interact and how you choose to use data to your benefit. Those who understand its potential are the ones who will succeed. Using data to cater to your clients and bring in new leads is the ultimate goal, so make sure you’re harnessing technology properly in order to meet that goal.
When it comes to social media, the majority of small to medium-sized businesses are doing it all wrong. Either they spend way too much time on it or no time on it at all.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be a key player on social media without devoting large portions of your daily routine to it. And this is important for two major reasons:
You can’t not be social. If you won’t be, then your competition sure as heck will be.
You can’t invest hours into being social. At the end of the day, social media is about building a presence and increasing awareness, not keeping your doors open for business.
Below are a few helpful suggestions when it comes to being socially smart and managing that delicate balance between being social and being tied to social media.
It’s important not to spend a whole lot of your workday meandering through the various social platforms—signing in, signing out, signing back in, posting, searching, tagging, liking, and so on and so forth. This is why Buffer is a great tool for companies who aren’t like Target and aren’t going to devote an entire social media team to creating separate marketing campaigns specifically for each individual social platform. That’s way too much work.
With Buffer, you can create one post and automatically ask it to upload onto all of your connected platforms simultaneously. You can share a post immediately or schedule it to go out to your followers on a specific day. What’s really great about Buffer is that you can take an hour out of one day to schedule an entire month of social media posts at once. And whether you want to include links, photos, videos, or just content, the choice is yours—Buffer can do it all.
Buffer also provides analytics and insight into all of your posts: how many clicks, likes, shares, and comments your posts receive. It connects with Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. And if you have more than one business or would like to post on behalf of yourself or another person, you can add multiple profiles to your account.
Social Media Calendar
What good is Buffer without strategic content to back it up? Not that great…which is why you need a social media calendar.
It doesn’t have to be very fancy and you can always find a free, downloadable template on the internet, but a social media calendar will help you strategically implement your content. Anything that resembles a calendar with clearly labeled days will do just fine. Simply insert content and links into each day, and then copy and paste this into a tool like Buffer when you’re complete. Seeing content for 30 days at a time will show you the bigger picture. Make sure your days of content all tie into each other and if your content as a whole promotes your brand identity.
If you keep these two tips in mind, it should be significantly easier and drastically less time-consuming for you to handle your social media platforms. Just keep in mind: socially smart.
Many people see smartphone apps as the end-all be-all of their productivitychallenges.
If I download this app and that app, maybe I’ll finally get my to-do list sorted out. Maybe I’ll even look at it after I create it. Wouldn’t that be something?
But, unfortunately, most of us go about this the wrong way: downloading the wrong apps and organizing them the wrong way. So to help you be more productive, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Finding an efficient way to organize your apps is almost as important as downloading the apps themselves. For this reason, organizing your apps should be the very first thing you consider, well before you get lost in the black hole that is the app store.
If you install a new calendar, file-sharing app, or project management tool, you need to keep these items in plain view, making you more prone to actually use them. Widgets can be effective but these slow down your phoneand clog up valuable real estate on your home screen. Instead, organize your apps into folders, separating them by type—money, projects, tools, coupons, games, social, etc.
If you want your home screen free of clutter, then situate these folders on the screen immediately to the left or right of your home screen. Organizing your apps into folders will ultimately help you maneuver through appsquickly and with little effort. No more wasting time scrolling through an unorganized mess of four pages of apps.
There are other ways to separate your apps as well. For example, Yahoo offers a customizable home screen layout called Yahoo Aviate Launcher. In one swipe, your apps are auto-categorized, and with another swipe, they’re alphabetized. Swipe up to see your “Quick Contacts” and swipe left to view customizable cards and information.
When downloading apps, you need to keep three factors in mind: usable, reasonable, and exclusive. These three factors are not meant to control your app experience but to manage it, because when we digitally walk into an app store, we’re too easily swayed by the “Ooh shiny” syndrome. This syndrome causes us to download one app after the other after the other for no other reason than just to download it. While this pattern may appear harmless, all it will really do is clog up your phone and make it harder for you to find and use the apps that can actually keep you productive and focused.
Usable: Will you use this app? For what purpose? Is this a legitimate purpose? Did you read the entire description, reviews included? Did you browse alternatives before stumbling upon this app?
Reasonable: Is it reasonable to conclude that you will actually use this appfor the intended purpose? Is the app laid out in a fashion that is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing?
Exclusive: Do you already have an app that serves this same purpose? If yes, why do you need this app in particular? Is it better than the app you already have installed? Will you delete the other app if you download this one?
Keep these three factors in mind at all times when browsing and installing new apps, and your overall experience with smartphone applications should be one that is much more productive, efficient, and realistic. Just don’t forget to organize them! You don’t want all that hard work of ‘tapping to install’ to go to waste, do you?