A New Base With Curabase
Launching my day in a new way is paying off.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably late. You just finished a hard day at work and a post about tools for work feels like the last thing you want to read. If that’s you, bookmark this. Come back when you feel motivated and excited about trying something new. (I promise it’ll be worth it)
Why? This isn’t just a highlight of another new tool, this is an attempt to show how a tweak to my own process, plus the perfect tool for the job has made me more efficient, organized, productive, and focused. I’m hoping someone out there reads this and is able to get something similar out of it for themselves.
If you know me, you know I spend a lot of personal time continually trying new products and tinkering with how I approach my workday. Here’s my attempt to explain what I’m doing on the off-chance it helps you!
Curabase: The biggest change to my workflow in a couple years
It’s so simple, I almost overlooked it.
Curabase allows you to easily build a board of links sorted into groups. You can give these links whatever name you like and drag them around where you need them.
That’s it, basically.
If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘where’s that document?’ or just dread waiting a minute to let Drive load and then roll the dice on the Drive search, Curabase is here for you. If you want to bucket links related to a project that are all over the web, Curabase is here for you. If you frequent a certain group of sites or resources on a daily basis or even infrequently, but often together, Curabase might be for you.
As a Product Manager at Techstars, I have many different ongoing projects and products to care for. Each one has a host of its own documentation, backends, frontends, plugin portals, 3rd party services, and other places I frequent in order to keep products up and projects moving.
I have found wiki like tools way too heavy for a simple area of my high use pages, links, and documents. You are typically forced to log in, find the wiki related to a project, and then find documentation, when really you just need a jumping off point to get in and edit a site or hop to a particular page.
One of the biggest payoffs from this is the ability to switch very rapidly between projects and products. In a few clicks I can have everything related to a project open and in front of me. A few more clicks and those are traded out for an entirely new set. I’m essentially spinning up project and product environments in my browser using Curabase as the…well, base.
By pairing Curabase with Pinned Tabs in Chrome and the ‘open specific page’ setting in Chrome (with my Curabase board set as that page), I’ve put everything I need at any moment on any day, in front of my face in a super organized way. (It also puts me at ease closing tabs because I know I can get back to it when I need in a second.)
I have one core board that opens in every tab that is my most current and frequent set of docs and links. I have another that is for emergencies and I’ve shared it with my team. It links to documents that describe how sites are built, what they’re used for, and who the stakeholders are. If something happened, they can open that board and have everything they need to troubleshoot without me, all in one place. Not only that, it puts everything within a single click. Need to purge the cache in WordPress? Boom, one click and you’re at the settings for that in the backend. And so on.
There are so many more potential uses for this simple, but effective tool, that I won’t even try to cover them, but take a peak at the site and imagine the places you frequent. Then imagine the sets of things you tend to frequent together. Now imagine them in front of you in every new tab or pinned to a tab and ready at a moments notice.
Check out the board I curated for our social channels at Techstars, as a basic example. No more clicking around for a link or browsing to it or relying on the wonderbar to find the right place in my history.
Now look, I know it is simple. In some ways it’s just like your browser’s bookmarks. I agree. However, by pairing it with Chrome options and intentionally organizing the things you need together, together, the time saved and general feel of organization is real. The way the links are laid out together, groupings, and grid layout also means nothing is ever buried. They’ve nailed the display and kept things minimal, making it a really effective launching pad (among other things).
It’s not too much and it’s not too little.
Use with the following because these are also awesome
Not just gems, diamonds.
Google Docs Quick Create: I pretty much use Google Docs for everything I am creating or working on in some fashion. With this extension, I can create a new document of any kind in two clicks. Set up is as easy as installing and then selecting your default account.
TabSnooze: Curabase has dramatically improved my tab addiction, but this is the finishing touch. I often leave tabs open to remind me to do something with that page, or I open it knowing I need to get back to it later. Problem is, after a few days of stopping and starting a whole host of things, you have a bunch of tabs open that you don’t want to close. TabSnooze makes that problem go away. Simply go to the tab, choose when you need it again and boom, it’s gone until you need it. Clear up your browser space and your head starts to clear up to, at least it does for me! (You can also access your snoozed tabs at any time from the extension button in case you need it earlier than you thought) Effectively, you have an awesome to-do list of tabs.
Docs Online Viewer: I can’t really believe it, but there are still people that actually attach documents to emails and send them. Yes, the nerve of making me download something. Half kidding, there are great use cases for a good ol’ Word doc or PDF. Problem is, I don’t like breaking my browser workflow to check them out. This extension opens any files sent to me via email or linked on a page, in a browser tab using a simple previewer. Many times, I don’t have to more than simply read it and then reply to the email. When I’m done, I close the tab and I never had to open (and let’s be honest, probably freaking update) Adobe Acrobat or Word.
Twitcher: Look no further if you have multiple Twitter accounts. Hootsuite is amazing for posting, but sometimes you need to actually go into the account. Twitcher adds your other accounts right into the menu on Twitter. One-click and you’re out of one and into another. No more logging in and out.
Assistant.to: I use this in conjunction with Calendly to help me cut back on annoying meeting scheduling emails. Assistant.to works a little differently than most booking tools. It actually inserts clickable slots into the body of email. You select open blocks on your calendar and then they are put into the email in a nicely organized fashion, with the recipient just needing to click the one they want.
Page Analytics by Google: Everyone I talk to about this is surprised they didn’t hear about it before. If you’ve ever just wanted to know what’s going on in terms of basic web stats on a page, just install this and browse to that page. If you’re logged into Google Analytics, it’ll show you stats right at the top of the page. No filtering for it in the back (especially nice since Google seems to change the interface every few days).
Revue: If you curate a newsletter (like I do!), try Revue. The Chrome extension makes clipping articles all week so nice. You can also connect up your social feeds, blog, and others to pull in for you to one-click insert into your mailer.
Auto Text Expander: Type a phrase often? Sending people a link often? Grab this extension and set yourself shortcuts for them. Type in your shortcut, hit the space-bar and there you go, that long address or oft-used link is inserted.