Productivity Tools We Can’t Live Without
The Ruvos team upgraded our corporate Gmail inboxes this week, and immediately the company-wide Google Chat room was abuzz with excitement about new features. Some team members who have been on the Inbox app train for a while were not as impressed — they are accustomed to the finer things in life. New Gmail has Smart Reply, which generates suggested responses to incoming emails based on not only the content of the email, but also your typical responses thanks to machine learning. Another feature that will prove helpful is Snooze, which pushes emails out of your beautifully clean Inbox to Zero until you are capable of further action. The Tasks function is neat as well, which allows you to create a to-do list item and associate an email with it in just two clicks or one drag. Let’s say that in your pre-tasks feature life you would typically copy a line of text from an email, open a tab, navigate to your task manager or ticketing software, paste it into a new line, and add an email address for follow-up. Worst case scenario this takes one minute per task, 20 minutes per day, 6 or so hours per month.
In short, no, none of these features are life-changing, but the orchestration of all of these tools within a portal you already have to use for hours per day is, we would argue, life-changing.
This week’s reactions and comments, whether of excitement or complacency, all had us thinking… these are very talented technologists, what are their favorite productivity tools?
The Case for Productivity Tools
In an industry notorious for frequent alerts, constant flow of emails, and an overwhelming number of meetings, we techies put in the effort upfront to take advantage of automated technologies for passive tasks. Developers and engineers like the ones here at Ruvos have endless ways of making robots do annoying and tedious work for them, but as we saw from the Gmail rollout, you don’t need to take a course on how to write shell scripts to make your own life easier. Take this run down of productivity tools and applications we love as inspiration to make the work day run more efficiently, personal life more smoothly, and overall life less robotically.
Phil’s Pick — Evernote
When asked about Evernote, our Chief Security Officer said “[he] can’t live without it”. We don’t blame him, what with Evernote’s multiple device cloud syncing, photo of a business card-to-text entry in your contact list-converter, serious storage capacity, and checklists. Phil is often caught doodling on his iPad during meetings, but it is (almost) always a handwritten list of meeting notes which converts and stores to folders based on content.
Jeff’s Pick — Magic
Not all of us can afford a personal assistant. Better yet, very few can. When Jeff forgets something important, which happens a lot (sorry, Jeff), he uses the Magic App. Magic describes itself as a 24/7 Personal Assistant, and Ruvos agrees, it is aptly named. Jeff’s best Magic story goes like this… He was on his way to Africa for Global Health work without business cards which are protocol to hand out at meetings. He put Magic up to the task — “they got me same day printed business cards, in Tanzania, delivered to my hotel, from dropbox links to the graphics. Saved the day”
Another anecdote from the team: “I ordered dinner to be sent to a hotel that did not have a restaurant while I was in a car on the way to the hotel. By the time I got there, pizza was waiting.” Magic indeed.
Alissa’s Pick — Tab Snoozer
Working in Operations, I touch all departments and work on both internal and client projects. For this reason, I have a lot of recurring meetings with the PMO and calls with various clients. The most incessant and repetitive aspect of my job was searching for and pulling up a document from the Drive before each meeting and call. With Tab Snoozer, I take notes during my meeting, click the extension when I am finished, and much like a slow cooker full of chili before heading out to the office for the day, I set it and forget it. My obedient tab of notes silently pops open 30 minutes before next week’s meeting.
Eddie’s Pick — Boomerang
If you’re like our CEO, you understand that there is just too much work to be done during the day to do any work. For those of you who get to the office at 7am or stay until 9pm (or both) you may find yourself tempted to send emails to your colleagues. This is a problem if they have your emails set up to alert them on personal devices and get a ping during dinner or while they are sleeping. Naturally, there are also times when you want an email to arrive at just the right time, but you aren’t going to be available at that time to press send. Boomerang that thang.
A Few Other Second Favorites
The Great Suspender — this little number freezes a solid state on all those tabs you keep open but infrequently use, which frees up tons of RAM for your machine. You know, the 12,000-word Wired article about how the NSA is using blockchain to track how many cupcakes you eat each year that you opened 3 weeks ago but never intend on reading. Once you’re ready to settle in and use that tab, just click it and it reopens. Until then, it will freeze after 15 minutes of dormancy. Don’t want a tab to suspend for fear of losing your place in that article? Tell it not to suspend for now.
LastPass — Ruvos’ choice for a secure password vault not only harbors your ultra sensitive login credentials, it also generates extremely long and complicated random passkeys, allows you to manage an entire company’s directory, and puts user management at your administrator’s finger tips. No more “password = password” for you (or your employees).
Fantastical — This calendar manager integrates all of your disparate calendars (social, personal, family, work) into one aesthetically pleasing dashboard. It factors in multiple time zones, travel time to meetings based on your geofenced location and history, and factors in natural language for event names, which is…*sigh* fantastic.
Buffer — If you use social — and care about your presence — you may want to throw Buffer into your toolkit. Buffer is an application for web and mobile, designed to manage your socials accounts in Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Post a lot? Huge companies and brands like Business Insider and Shopify use it to queue their content, so it can definitely handle a few photos of your cat.
Hopefully this list will inspire you to sign up for some open source tools — or if you realized you can’t operate without your favorite productivity tool after reading this article, maybe you will be inclined to donate a few dollars to the creator of your favorite tool. We would love to hear about your favorite app or widget in Twitter!