February 17, 2019

Running with Rusniak: It’s Tool Time!

tool time

“Does everybody know what time it is?” Say it with me…”Tool Time!”

If you were also a lover of 90s sitcoms, I’m sure you recognize that reference!

Similar to the premise of the show within a show, I’m sharing some of my favorite tools, tips, and tricks as a member of the Gig Economy. While viewers of “Tool Time” may have been seeking advice for using the latest and greatest home improvement tools, this blog post is for you if you want suggestions for work improvement tools. Surely, the information that follows will not be nearly as comical as Tim Allen’s misfires in the workshop, but I hope that what I share will give you “More Power!” to work smarter and not harder. (Okay. No more Home Improvement puns.)

Favorite Tools to Em”power” You Professionally

(Okay. I promise, no more Home Improvement puns!)

Best Conference Call Tool – Free Conference

I’ve sat through more than 1,000 conference calls so far in my career, and I’m sure I will sit through more. I’ve dialed into subscription-based 1-800 dedicated conference lines, and I’ve participated in calls on a long-distance number from the Midwest. They all work the same, primarily; there’s a number that you call and an access code that you enter, and voila, you’re meeting with people on the phone. My favorite conference call service right now is Free Conference. Its prime advantage is conveyed in its name; it’s free! Full Disclosure: I once had issues with connectivity using this service, but I’d say that has happened less than 1 percent of the time that I’ve used it. If you’re looking for a way to host professional calls with individuals calling in from multiple locations, I recommend giving this tool a try.

Best To-Do List Tool – Todoist

Maintaining a list of tasks keeps me organized and on track in meeting my deadlines. There is also something very satisfying about crossing items off of the list and having proof that I was productive! I’ve used BaseCamp, ToDoist, Trello, Wunderlist, and a number of other task management tools in the past. Of all that I’ve tried, ToDoist is by far my favorite. There is a free option that I’ve found intuitive and full of features that I love:

  • Syncs with my Google account
  • Allows me to set up “Projects” to organize tasks and tag them
  • Allows me to check off items when I finish them
  • Accommodates recurring tasks (weekly, daily, every work day, etc.)

Best Password Management Tool – LastPass

The days of writing your passwords down on a sticky note are over, my friends! If you’re not using LastPass, you need to be. You set a master password, and then use that password to access a vault of all of your other passwords. There is a mobile phone app that allows you to access your information on the go, and a browser plug-in that pre-fills your stored information on the sites that you use. LastPass also allows you to share account login information with others (for example, giving my husband access to my daughter’s pediatrician’s website) and store other secure information like credit card numbers. I’m not sure I can quantify exactly much more productive this tool makes me, but I know it’s a lot!

Best Document Repository – DropBox

Most email providers include some type of cloud-based document storage (Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.). Although these are included with your account, I still prefer managing a separate tool for storing documents. I like DropBox (and even use the “Plus” paid-for version). I’ve found Dropbox is the tool that makes it most straightforward to share documents and folders with others and most convenient to keep files organized off of my hard drive. I love the plug-in that allows me to sync documents on my machines, and the Dropbox app for my phone, too. I regularly send emails from my phone and attach documents from my Dropbox with just one extra click. This tool makes working away from my desk so easy!

Best Email – Gmail

Do you ever wonder what it was like to work before email? I really can’t fathom the leap productivity made when email became mainstream. I have accounts through Comcast, Gmail, Office365, and Outlook. I’ve used Worldclient and AOL, too. I enjoy the style and features of Gmail best. It’s simple to set up a new Gmail account, and then access all of your Gmail accounts on a mobile phone. I find the calendar and contacts widgets easy to use. Another feature that I regularly use for work planning travel is the Maps tool. It allows me to save maps with pinned locations and directions to my Google account and then email them as part of itineraries that I need to share with other people.

Your Turn!

These are just a few of the systems that I benefit from daily. They save time, help me stay organized, and make me more productive. Do you have any favorite tools that help you work smarter? Leave a comment to tell me about them!

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