Posted 11.14.2012

10 Sites I Use to Stay Organized

There are several sites that I use consistently in order to stay organized. Some of these sites will seem obvious, but a proper web app has built in flexibility, meaning HOW I use them may be different.

But first, let me explain why I use these sites and not their competitors:

  • Easability – The site has to make it easy for me to use. In some cases, less is more.
  • Syncing – A lot of a site that will sync with my iPhone and iPad. I can no longer be limited to my desktop/laptop. I need to be able to access current information wherever.
  • Getting information in AND out – I have to be able to get information in and out, whenever I want, however I want.

Instapaper
Get Pocket


Instapaper / Pocket

I started off using Read it Later (now Pocket and within the past year have switched over to Instapaper. They’re both similar services and so it really comes down to personal preference.

I use Instapaper to flag any longer form article that I run across and don’t have to time to read it in that moment. I have Instapaper on my iPhone and iPad so it makes syncing easy. I can catch up on my reading practically anywhere.

There are a few settings that I really enjoy about Instapaper:

  • All my bookmarks are automatically sent to my Pinboard account. There have been a few times where I’m looking for a post, can’t remember where I’ve sent it, and I know for sure it will show up in Pinboard.
  • Instapaper will compile a document to send to my Kindle each Friday with articles that saved for later. — Again, any format, any way I want it.

The Google Line-Up

I’m all about some Google Services and it really does go back to the 3 items I mentioned above. Google is easy to use. I can get it to sync easily with all my devices and even access the information on someone else’s computer. I can share, import, and export easily.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar

All of my calendaring is managed through Google Calendars. I can access it online at work and then have my iPhone and iPad automatically sync so that any updates are automatically pushed to the other devices.

I have a calendar set up for each area of my life, which doesn’t necessarily make sharing calendars easy, but it does mean that everything is color coordinated!

I try and put everything date related on my calendar, including due dates and tasks. Some days, I’ll even schedule everything out for the day, so that every minute is accounted for, just to make sure everything gets done.


Google Drive

Google Drive

More and more, I try and keep all my documents in Google Drive. Three reasons:

  1. Ease of use. It’s easier for me to open a new tab in my web browser than it is for me to launch Numbers.
  2. Sharing. I can share any document. For example, my husband and I share a document with our monthly budget. Or, I’ve shared business ideas with potential partners. Or, site documentation with freelance clients. It’s so much better than emailing an Excel document back and forth and trying to keep up with which version is the most recent.
  3. Syncing. I can easily pull up any document on my iPhone or iPad when I’m on the go.

I even write all my blog posts in Google Docs. I have a “Drafts” folder and a “Published” folder. Each week, I’ll plan out what I want to blog about. I’ll put the post title on my Google Calendar. Then, I can actually, attach the Google Doc to that particular event in my calendar!

Attachments in Google Calendar

Jenny Blank actually got me thinking in this direction. She’s a former Google employee and now manages the blog Life After College. She has her whole in Google and does a great job of sharing some of her Google Doc templates and methods for staying organized.


Gmail

Gmail

I have several different email addresses, but they all forward to one Gmail account. I try and tag everything and aim for Inbox Zero. The three most important tags I have are @Action, @FollowUp, @NonImmediate, and @Read. I’m a fan of GTD and so (on a good week), when I’m doing my weekly review, I got through those boxes to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

A huge help, though, has been Boomerang. My favorite feature is Send Later, but it will also remind me if I need to follow up with someone or if I want to get it out of my Inbox, but come back and remind me later.


Google Reader

Google Reader

I keep track of all my blog feeds through Google Reader. That doesn’t mean I necessarily always use Google Reader for reading, there are other applications, like Reeder (for Mac, iPad, and iPhone), that I use. But, everything is at least synced through Google Reader.


Evernote

Evernote

I use Evernote to store all images of things I like. It’s basically my personal Pinterest. I double up, saving things in Evernote and Pinterest because Evernote saves my information locally. I feel like it’s “mine” versus sending it to a 3rd party online.

Also, Evernote has image text recognition. Meaning, I don’t necessarily have to tag an image as “gorilla.” But, if it has the word “gorilla” on there, Evernote will read that text and still return that image as a result. = Much more versatile. Again, it’s all about being able to save data and get it back out whenever and wherever I need it.

I’ll also save snippets of code in Evernote or ways I troubleshot a programming issue I was having. This makes it easy when I encounter the issue again and can’t remember how I solved it.

It takes Evernote a while to load up, particularly on my iPhone and iPad, but then again, I have almost 15,000 notes (not exaggerating).


Dropbox

Dropbox

This is one of my favorites. Dropbox has a folder that sits on my computer. Anything I place inside, automatically syncs with my iPhone and iPad. I love it, not only for getting files on the go, but it makes it easy to share files and collaborate with others. Additionally, I have several services that backup and sync via Dropbox.


Pinboard

Pinboard

I use Pinboard for all my bookmarks. I used Delicious back in the day (and in a lot of ways liked it better), but when it got bought out by Yahoo, I switched to Pinboard and haven’t looked back. I save everything…well…almost everything. I’ll save links to Photoshop brushes and Mac Applications and things I find online that I eventually want to share on my blog.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite

I use Hootsuite to manage my Twitter account. I schedule most of my Tweets, that way I can set them up once to send throughout the day. I also like Hootsuite’s layout, where I have several different columns of information. — my feed, direct messages, @replies, favorite tweets, pending tweets, designers I follow, you get the idea.

Actually, almost all the links and design resources I find come from my Twitter list of designers.


IFTTT

ifttt.com

This site is easy to forget about, simply because I set it up once and it runs magic in the background. But, the beauty of this site is that it has most of these sites I’ve listed, working together.

IFTTT stands for If This, Then This. Basically, it sets up conditionals, or recipes, for various sites and will automatically run a set of actions, if triggered. For example, every time I take a picture on Instagram, that picture is automatically downloaded and backed up to my Dropbox folder. Cool, right?! Or here’s another: if I star something in my Google Reader, then, it will automatically create a bookmark in Pinboard/. Plus, the site has plenty of predefined recipes that you can use, if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas.



Posted 11.12.2012

My Social Media Strategy

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Creating a Social Media Strategy. Admittedly, a lot of the things that I wrote about, are things that you would read on various sites. In fact, Chris Brogan, was one that originally got me thinking about a lot of this. (Here, here, and here.)

It seems like everyone knows what to do, but how do you actually implement it?! It’s all really good in theory, but what does it really look like put into action? I’ve decided to share my own strategy.


Twitter

I used to have my Twitter and Facebook account connected. Any tweets would automatically go to Facebook. But, I had several people tell me, “I look at the things you post and it’s over my head. I don’t get it.” As a result, people stopped paying attention to my Facebook account and my own sister unfollowed me on Twitter.

I decided to use my Twitter account as a way of interacting with other designers and programmers. So, I’ll tweet things about design and programming. (You are what you attract.) Occasionally, a personal tweet will work it’s way in. But, for the most part, design and programming. On a good day, I try and tweet at least 3 different links.

My Twitter account

Facebook

For me, Facebook is personal. The people I’m friends with on Facebook, I know personally. So, I’ll post updates that are just that: personal. Since I’ve disconnected my Twitter account and been intentional about what I post on Facebook, I’ve had far more comments and likes than I’ve had in a long time.

My Facebook Account

Google+

I’m (honestly) still trying to figure this one out. I started reading Guy Kawasaki’s book on Google+ and I was amazed at the potential that Google+ has. I remember conversations when Google+ first started, “It’s going to be better than Facebook and Twitter.” But months later, I’m not sure that’s the case (DISCLAIMER: I’m not sure what the numbers are, I’m just speaking from my own personal experience.) I’m still trying to decide if this one is worth the effort.

My Google Plus Account

Pinterest

I finally jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon. I was an early adopter and had an account before anyone else knew it existed (September 3, 2010, to be exact), but never posted anything. It has always bothered me that they own the content that I post. If I post all my inspiration there and something happens and their service has to be shut down, then I’ve lost all my inspiration…well, you know what I mean. I’ve lost all the images I’ve used for visual research.

Originally, that’s what I envisioned the Things I Like section of my site to be, a personal pinboard of sorts. But, I can’t argue with the fact that companies are getting more referral traffic from Pinterest than Google (myself included). So, I still grab images and stick them in my Evernote account, but I also pin them. It’s been fun to watch which pins get repinned and the things my friends find interesting.

I pin everything from illustration to posters to interior design to recipes to my own work. I’m in the process of rebuilding the Things I Like section of my blog to pull from my Pinterest boards.

My Pinterest

Instagram

I use Instagram about the same way that everyone else does. I take pictures and post them to Instagram. The pictures I take are probably more personal than not. Even other iPhone Photography services that I’ve used for the filters (tada, Snapseed, and Camera+), I’ll still export to send to Instagram. One day, I still want to participate in fat mum slim’s photo a day.

My Instagram

My Blog

I want my blog to be my primary online presence. I want it to be a representation of who I am. — So, I post general things about social media and technology to help educate my clients, photography, design, personal things about my life, things I find on the internet, and programming snippets I’ve found. Honestly, I still struggle with finding a niche, but at least for right now, this is better for me than trying to manage 6 different blogs, each one dedicated to one of these topics. My posts are more long form in nature. The goal is to write at least one post a day, during the week.

My Blog

In the comments: What has been your strategy? What works for you? What doesn’t?



Creating a Social Media Strategy

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to beef up my blog, posting more regularly. I know I’ll be far more effective, if I do that with strategy, versus, half heartedly throwing hand grenades. Plus, you and I both know (well, at least I hope you do) that social media extends far beyond a blog or website. It’s how we interact on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ (just to name a few).

So, where do we start? First, we have to decide what we’re going to focus on. There are hundreds of social networks out there, most of which I’ve never even heard about. For me, I decided I’m going to focus on the big ones. People are already there. I would rather go to my target audience versus waiting around for them to come to me.

Second, I think you have to figure out who your core audience is. This is a difficult one. We want to be everyone’s friend, but it doesn’t work that way…and that’s OK! I was on a conference call with a client earlier this week. We asked them who their core audience was and they said 20-45 year old women. That’s a 25 year age difference! That’s not a core audience! After a few more questions, we were able to narrow that down to young moms. Now we’re starting to get somewhere.

How does this relate to social media? Well, it changes my message. If my core audience is other designers, then I’m going to write about design. I’ll post images that inspire me. I’ll talk about my process. I’ll write about quirks that I find in Photoshop.

If my core audience is programmers, I’ll write about my experience with Code Igniter or jQuery or Ruby. I’ll provide websites that solved my problems. I’ll do my best to contribute to the community.

If my core audience is clients. Then, I’ll do my best to show them that I know what I’m talking about and provide tools to help educate them.

If my core audience is my friends and family, I’ll write about my adventures or things I’m learning.

As you can tell, this is something that I struggle with on my own blog. I have interests in all these areas. For me, I’ve tried to divide these out by categories (101, My Life, Finders Keepers, Programming, Design, and Photography). I would rather everything be housed under 1 site than try and manage 6 different blogs! Honestly, I (still) don’t know if this is effective.

But, one thing I am sure of: my core audience is different based on which medium I am using. For example, on Facebook, I’ve tried to be very intentional about making sure the people I’m friends with are people that I know in real life. They don’t care about how I debug sites on my iPhone and iPad, but they do want to know about my trip to Rio this summer. If I keep posting geek stuff that’s over their head, pretty soon, they’ll start tuning me out and miss the stuff that is actually applicable to them.

Third, there’s the time factor. How much time are you willing to spend each day? How often are you going to post? When are you posting?

One of the hardest things I’ve discovered about social media is staying consistent. I’ll do great for one day, or one week, even. But, it quickly becomes hard to maintain. Social media is not a microwave, though. We like to think it is because things move quickly, in and out, but for us to have any success or have any influence whatsoever, our audience needs to be able to trust us and know that we’re going to be there no matter what. Day in and day out. Yeah, it’s hard. But, anything that has value is hard.

Do you have a social media strategy? Is there another principle you’ve used when creating your social media strategy?