I work for a small company and have the flexibility to change my work schedule, work remotely, and do a lot of things that would have been unheard of at some of my previous employers. In fact, that flexibility is a great benefit that we offer our staff that doesn’t have a set price tag (hint to the big HR/marketing companies out there: I’d love to have some data on how much people would accept in less salary for the opportunity to set their own work schedule).
As you know, I also blog (duh) and run an online business. I use a handful of tools to help me get everything accomplished, and I thought it might be helpful to discuss some of those.
Dropbox-This is a tool that allows you to set up a folder on your computer that synchronizes with other computers instantly. If I’m working on a file and need to access it from my home computer, I just drop it into my Dropbox folder and it is waiting on me next time I access a computer (or when I need it on my Android phone when I’m out and about). We have always used the free Dropbox version (2 gigabytes free!), and it’s been a lifesaver on some occasions.
Mozy-If you’ve never had a computer failure, you’ve never experienced the sheer panic that comes with losing important data. Back when my wife and I were putting together baby books, we had a computer glitch that caused our photos to be deleted. However, since we were using Mozy to automatically back up our files via the web, it was only a short moment of panic before we logged in and downloaded all the files we needed. We used the free version for several years and now pay for it because it’s that good.
Google-Gmail, Gcal, Gdocs, Gchat, etc.-Like most of the world, Google helps me run my life. Everything from using Google email for my personal life and Google Apps email for upstarthr.com, it’s just the best free email system around. I use Outlook at work like most people. The problem is I have so much of my personal/business activities that are not captured there (I use Google Calendar). Well, google calendar sync is a free tool that helps to sync your Outlook activities over to your Gcal (or vice versa) so that you have all of your information in one place to make decisions on scheduling, etc. I love Gchat and Google Docs as well for staying connected with friends and family.
LogMeIn-I have used LogMeIn Free for several years now. It’s a quick, easy way to remotely log into another computer you own and view files, email pictures to yourself that are stored on your home computer, or even view files on your smartphone while you are on the road. It takes just a few minutes to create an account and get it set up on a computer, and you can then log into that computer securely via the internet from pretty much any location. Cool, eh?
MailChimp-After researching several of the options available for sending email newsletters, I decided on MailChimp. I’ve been using them for over a year and a half now, and it’s been free for the entire time (though I’m almost to the paying limit). (By the way, you are getting the free updates, right?) This tool is phenomenal for sending email newsletters (RSS to email, for the bloggers out there) and connecting with your customers. They have dozens of great PDF guides as resources for people needing assistance getting started.
Ejunkie-If you’ve ever purchased anything from the site, you went through the E-Junkie shopping cart. This tool is very cheap for those looking to sell digital goods online ($5/mo flat rate), and I’ve never had an issue with them processing a payment or delivering content to customers. Just a solid service with a great value.
Dreamhost-All websites that I set up are hosted with Dreamhost. When I started researching providers several years ago, they kept popping up as one of the best in the business. As I moseyed along the new website setup process, they had great tools there to help me get it done for my first time to set up a website on my own, and I knew I had made the right choice.
Mint-Mint is a very handy dashboard for securely keeping track of your various financial accounts. Credit cards, mortgage info, bank accounts, and more can be plugged into your account. It’s like Quicken, but it’s web-based and free. Tough to beat that.
Perk Street-PerkStreet is a new company I’ve started using this year, and I really like them. It’s a checking account with a debit card that gives you anywhere from 1-20% cash back on purchases. They have monthly categories and other special deals to allow their customers to save even more money, and it’s based on the desires of their customer base. I’ve used my credit card for a lot of bigger purchases to get cash back before, but it’s nice to do that with a debit card instead.
What about you?
These just came to me as I was considering my day-to-day life on the web. What tools do you use (at work or not) that help you to be productive and flexible?