Top 7 tools and resources for organization
I’m an organizational freak.
I like taking notes, I thrive on having a plan or some type of structure in place, and if something isn’t where it’s supposed to be, then I will stop to put it there.
And while some might see this as unproductive or obsessive, I see it as a super power — a habit and strength that allows me to work optimally most of the time (cause let’s be real, no one is perfect!) without distractions.
A personal example
I don’t start my workday until the kitchen is clean. I’m a neat person — give me a break ;) But in all seriousness, I know this about myself: if I walk through the kitchen, which I do every morning to grab my water and my coffee, and I see a pile of dirty dishes sitting in the sink, I will think about those dishes all day long.
This is a major distraction for me.
A business example
I spend 10 minutes every evening before I shut down to make sure that I have my task list ready for the next day. This guarantees that I won’t sit down at my computer the next morning and get stuck in the black hole that is my email, social media, etc.
Both of these examples have one major thing in common (along with the dozens of other examples of my ‘organization at work’ I could give you): they help give me FOCUS.
Sometimes being organized is about prep work — planning things ahead of time and being proactive about where things belong so you don’t waste unnecessary time putting things in place before you can start your work day.
Other times, being organized is about removing distractions — being up front with yourself about the things you can quickly and easily use as an excuse to not do the things you know you should be doing.
One thing is for sure: no matter what level of organizational freak we may be, we can’t do it alone.
Let’s take a look at the top tools and resources I use to help me stay organized and work most productively on a consistent basis.
Workflowy for notes
How I use Workflowy
I use Workflowy for several purposes — both personal and business.
From a personal standpoint, it’s where I create my grocery list, my household to-do list, my Amazon list, and where I store things like my frequent flyer #’s and what I’m getting each of my family members for Christmas.
From a business standpoint, it’s where I:
- Keep track of affiliate links and info
- Remind myself of acronyms and DBA info
- Create checklists for some of my similar systems
- Gather content ideas and topics
- Collect articles, websites, or tools and resources I want to re-visit later
- Gather quotes I love
I use the free version of Workflowy, and I’ve never gotten a warning about running out of space — and I use Workflowy A LOT.
They do have a Pro Plan (click on the “get more space” link in the upper right of your Workflowy to see all the details), which gives you some pretty awesome features, like backup to Dropbox, password collaboration, and customization options for themes and fonts. The Pro Plan is only $49 / year.
Why I love Workflowy
For starters, it’s super bare bones and doesn’t have any bells or whistles. It’s the most basic note taking I’ve ever seen online that still allows you to easily format things in an outline AND quickly search for anything.
You can collapse certain categories and expand them, and also move things around by dragging and dropping entire lines of text.
In addition, there are mobile apps, so your Workflowy syncs across multiple devices, which helps when I’m out and about and want to make note of something or remind myself of something I want to do later.
Compare this tool
Evernote: I’ve tried it, but it’s just too complex for me.
OneNote: I’ve never tried it because I love Workflowy so much!
Asana for tasks
How I use Asana
I use Asana for basic task-management. While you can use it for more in-depth project planning and management, I prefer to use other tools for this purpose, which I’ll get into in a later post here in Season 3.
Whether I’m assigning a task to myself, (which I do often to keep track of the things I want to accomplish each day), or assigning a task to a team member, Asana allows me to keep a running list of all the tasks I’m managing in a single place.
I use the free version of Asana, which allows for up to 15 team members and unlimited tasks.
Because I use Asana at a very basic level, I’ve never considered upgrading to their Pro Plan, although it is super reasonable and could be incredibly valuable for anyone looking to leverage the project management aspect of Asana (it’s about $8 / month).
Why I love Asana
Asana is super easy to use and I love it because it allows you assign things to yourself and to other team members, create checklists within tasks, and set due dates.
In addition, it eliminates the back-and-forth via email because you can comment directly on any given task to keep yourself and team members up-to-date on the status.
Asana also allows you to create entire projects, which I don’t personally utilize it for, but I’ve seen others do this and the capabilities are impressive.
Compare this tool
Trello: I have used Trello quite extensively, and it’s a tool I’ve very seriously considered for more in-depth project management, but not for basic task-management.
What’s great about Trello is you can have multiple team members, assign only specific parts of a project to individuals, and it’s very visual.
Wrike: I’ve only heard great things about Wrike, but because Asana does everything I need it to for task management, I’ve not had a reason to spend time exploring Wrike.
Finder for file organization
How I use Finder
Finder saves my life — multiple times per day.
I use Finder to organize my documents, pictures, PDF’s, media files, videos — everything that’s on my computer is organized within a folder to help me find exactly what I’m looking for, faster.
Why I love Finder
I didn’t realize how much I love “simple” tools until I started writing this post; Finder is so simple — you just create a folder, name it, and start dragging files into it.
There’s nothing I hate more than wasting time trying to find something, and with the organization I’ve created in Finder — plus the search function — I very rarely find myself stuck looking for something for more than a few seconds.
Compare this tool
Depending on the computer and operating system you’re using, your “Finder” tool might look slightly different. Luckily, they’re all pretty much the same in terms of their functionality.
Bonus: check out this video of how I organize my files in Finder
Dropbox for file sharing and storage
How I use Dropbox
I use Dropbox for overall cloud-based storage purposes, especially for files that are big in size so they don’t take up storage space on my computer.
I also use Dropbox to share files with extended team members, like our designer, Brandy, and Brian, who hosted the Podcasters’ Paradise Podcast. That way, final files that are large in size can be easily accessed and transferred to specific people on our team.
Why I love Dropbox
Dropbox is awesome for several reasons, but I primarily love it because it helps me keep my computer running optimally and gives me access to files no matter where I am.
Before I started using Dropbox, I didn’t realize how much the larger files on my drive were slowing down my computer, and it was always a pain to share larger, final files with our designer and other extended team members.
Once we started using Dropbox, we were able to quickly and easily access final files without having to email someone, request the file, wait for it, figure out how to transfer it, and so on.
I’m currently using the Dropbox Pro Plan, which is $99 / year and gives you 1 terabyte of storage (that’s A LOT of storage!) But you can sign up for Dropbox for free and earn space by sharing Dropbox with your friends, on social media, etc.
They also have business plans available.
Compare this tool
Box: I really haven’t had a reason to try Box, but I see it come up in searches often for “cloud-based storage” solutions.
Google Drive: I love Google Drive, and I use it often (it’s actually next on our list!), but when it comes to straight file sharing and storage, I like how Dropbox is set up (it’s easier to create folders and locate documents using Dropbox).
WeTransfer: I love WeTransfer, and I use it for one-off file sharing. For example, if I’m sending a video to someone who I don’t collaborate with often, or who I’m just sharing a single file with, then WeTransfer is quick and easy.
Google Drive for live document sharing
How I use Google Drive
I use Google Drive to create and share living Word Docs, Excel Spreadsheets, and Forms of all kinds.
Just to give you an idea of the wide range of files I create there, a few of our current Google Drive files include:
- The on boarding process we use for our employees (Google Doc)
- Our Social Media Scheduler (Google Spreadsheet)
- The application to be a guest on EOFire (Google Form)
Why I love Google Drive
Google Drive offers something pretty priceless: living documents that are updated in real time.
What I love most about Google Drive is that I can share documents and spreadsheets with team members, and regardless of which team member is making updates or additions, everyone who has access to the document can see the changes and updates in real time.
This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, all the time.
Compare this tool
Quip (past sponsor of EOFire): Quip also allows you create living, breathing documents you can share with your team. With Slack integration and other great features like built-in chat, this could be the tool for you and your team. Free and paid options are available; Quip.com/fire will get you your first 6 months on the team plan free :)
Bookmarks bar for convenience
How I use Bookmarks bar
Any site that I visit regularly is on my Bookmarks bar, which saves me a TON of time because I go to a lot of the same websites every day.
I not only have sites saved to my Bookmarks bar, but I also have folders that help me categorize sites. Here’s what my Bookmarks bar looks like right now:
Why I love Bookmarks bar
This means that when I log in to EOFire.com, go to our Podcasters’ Paradise Facebook Group to moderate and engaged, or to get into my Google Calendar, all I do is press a single button. It might not seem like it will safe you a ton of time upfront, but imagine going to Facebook.com, logging in, being directed to your Newsfeed, then clicking on your Groups, finding Podcasters’ Paradise…
No way, Jose — take me straight there and not only do I save clicks, I also save myself from a lot of potential distractions.
Google Calendar for reminders
How I use Google Calendar
Google Calendar is like my North Star — I use it for everything. And when I say everything, I truly mean everything:
- My workouts
- My coffee dates
- My accountability chats
- My webinars
- My themed days
- My dentist appointments
- My dinner reservations
- My travel itineraries
- My “me time”
- My birthday reminders
- My podcast reminders
A couple of years ago I was listening to a podcast episode from Amy Porterfield, and she said something that hit me really hard: “Schedule it to make it real” — something she learned working with the great Tony Robbins.
Ever since, I’ve become obsessed with scheduling anything and everything that is important to me. If I want to get it done, then you’ll find it in my Google Calendar.
Why I love Google Calendar
Google Calendar syncs across all of my devices — email, phone, and within several other tools I use like ScheduleOnce and Tripit. This makes is super convenient and easy to use: everything I have to do is in one place.
I also love that you can create recurring reminders and appointments using the “Repeat” option on any invite you create. Want to reminded of something daily, weekly, monthly, annually? Google Calendar has you covered!
Compare this tool
iCal (if you’re a Mac user)
Outlook Calendar (if you’re an Outlook user)
Up next in Season 3 on tools and resources
What started out as a 500 word post quickly became 2,000!
That’s because I’m passionate about finding the right tools and resources that can help you maximize your time and grow your business.
That’s exactly what the tools and resources I’ve shared above have done for us here at EOFire, and I hope that some — if not all of them — can help you do the same.
Up next, we’ll be diving into tools and resources for communication and relationship management! As always, you can always visit our home base for Season 3 to check out our entire season lineup!
Originally published at www.eofire.com on August 4, 2016.