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 / Pocket
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.
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.
More and more, I try and keep all my documents in Google Drive. Three reasons:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
- @smashingmag – Smashing Network
- @smashingmag – Design
- @imrogb – design links
- @behoff – top-design-blogs
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.