Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: tools

Increase Your Punctuality with These 6 Tools You Already Have

Increase Your Punctuality with These 6 Tools You Already Have

Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.

That saying has been referenced for years in various circumstances, being quoted in a number of books and commonly heard inside fast-paced business environments and military organizations. Punctuality is a trait valued by many and to lack it can have a negative impact in your job search and contracting business.

Recruiters commonly tell us that one of their biggest pet peeves is when IT contractors show up late to an interview or client meeting. If you’re a talented technology professional with in-demand skills, being a couple minutes late isn’t likely going to cost you a job (unless there is an equally talented, in-demand professional also in the running), but it will erode your reputation. People will be less inclined to want to work with you, you won’t get top priority on future contract opportunities, and your perceived value will be lower when it comes time to negotiate rate.

If you’re looking to improve this aspect of your life, before you invest in the latest apps and tools, or take on some off-the-wall technique you saw in a trending article, consider these six tools that are already in front of you and available every day.

You

Use all the fancy apps and podcast-recommended tips you can find, but until you internalize punctuality, you’ll never change anything. Truly understand why you want to be more punctual and how it will improve your life. Also recognize how being late affects others and how it makes them feel. Finally, determine the root cause about why you’re always late, and then start fixing that problem rather than wasting time in the wrong areas.

Clocks and Watches

The next tools to master are your various clocks and watches — in your bedroom, car, kitchen and on your phone and wrist. Have clocks everywhere and ensure they’re working. This will help you keep track of time and make it easy to see when it’s time to leave for appointments. A common technique is to set your clocks a few minutes ahead and “trick” yourself into being early. Critics of that say it just leads to self-correcting because you know it’s ahead, but others have researched it further to perfect the art of “tinkering with your understanding of time”. If that still seems like too much effort, then invest in a procrastinator’s clock, which runs up to fifteen minutes late, but never the same amount of time. This will force you to follow it because you’ll never know the actual time!

Calendars

Every smartphone has a calendar app installed and if it doesn’t, there are plenty of free ones available. Research your app and learn about the features it offers, for example, the Google Calendar has number of handy tools within it. Also make sure that calendar is smartly and efficiently organized — enter all information about a meeting inside the event, including location, directions and special instructions. Set reminders a few hours and a day before to ensure you don’t forget. Finally, consider scheduling the event to start a few minutes earlier than the actual time. This will force you to pay attention a little earlier.

Alarms and Reminders

It’s easy to get lost in tasks like coding, resume-writing… Facebook. Use alarms to set gentle and not-so-gentle reminders so time doesn’t slip away so easily. The most-used alarm most of us capitalize on is the one that wakes us up in the morning. That alarm comes with one of the most abused tools — the snooze button! Studies have proven that the snooze button is NOT your friend. Not only will it make you late, but it forces you out of a deep sleep over and over, which is a terrible way to start your day. If you know that habit is not going to go away, though, be sure to set your alarm earlier to give yourself a snooze window.

Maps

Popular map apps are so much more than navigation with a mouthy computerized voice telling you where to go. For example, Google Maps uses satellite to know traffic flows and will connect with your calendar to let you know what time you have to leave in order to arrive at the destination you entered. Maps are also great to help you plan ahead for parking, smartest routes, and back-up routes. As soon as you have an appointment, flag or star the location in your maps app so it’s easy to find and get directions to when you need it.

The Shelf by Your Door

This one is more metaphorical but can also be literal. The premise is to be prepared the night before a big appointment. Have everything ready to go at the door, or even already loaded in the car (which has plenty of gas in it). When it’s time to go, there will be no stress, even if you are running a couple minutes late.

There are factors beyond your control and in those situations, give a heads up to the people who will be waiting for you. If you’re not concerned about your reputation or missing out on work because you have a habit of always being a few minutes late, then let the fact that it’s disrespectful motivate you to improve your behavior. Remember, being punctual does not have to require massive change and tools, simply taking advantage of what you already have can have a great impact.

The Top Online Project Management Tools

The Top Online Project Management ToolsEvery great professional, in any trade, requires tools to guarantee their work is done with as much efficiency and quality as possible. IT Project Managers are no exception to this rule and need to ensure they’re using the right tools.

Often, it is the client who makes the decision about which tools will be used; however, if your contract requires you to manage this piece, or they ask your opinion, it’s best to be prepared. For these situations, this article from FinancesOnline recommends you stick with cloud-based, online project management tools. While they understand every situation is different, the article lists five main advantages for sticking with online tools:

  • Unobstructed access to information
  • Facilitated onboarding
  • Focus on collaboration
  • Configuration
  • Affordability

If you’re sold on the idea, but unsure where to start, the article goes on to rank its 20 preferred online project management tools as follows:

  1. Wrike
  2. Asana
  3. Taskworld
  4. Basecamp
  5. Zoho Projects
  6. Smartsheet
  7. Nutcache
  8. Bitrix24
  9. Clarizen
  10. Trello
  11. Podio
  12. JIRA
  13. Teamwork
  14. ProWorkflow
  15. Easy Projects
  16. KanbanFlow
  17. dapulse
  18. Projectplace
  19. Mavenlink
  20. Taiga

Do you have a preference in project management tools? If so, please share it with our readers in the comments below. We’re eager to hear your reviews!

15 Amazing Collaboration Tools for Remotely Managing Teams

This post by Nick Darlington was originally featured on the Freshbooks Blog on May 30, 2017.

The remote working trend shows no signs of slowing.

15 Amazing Collaboration Tools for Remotely Managing TeamsGallup’s Work and Education Poll in 2015 highlighted that 37% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted to work, which is four times more than 9% in 1995. And a survey of business owners by Virgin Media Business predicted that 60% of office-based employees will be working from home by 2022.

You only have to Google “remote working statistics” and you’re bombarded with statistics highlighting this trend. You’re also presented with statistics on the many benefits of remote working like improved productivity, happier employees and better customer retention.

While the distributed working trend continues with clear benefits, management faces a new problem: How to remotely manage these teams.

It shouldn’t surprise you that many companies now embrace remote working. In fact, some companies – like Buffer – already have fully distributed teams.

But, while the trend continues with clear benefits, management faces a new problem: How to remotely manage these teams. While there are guides and case studies online-Zapier‘s account of remotely managing teams stands out- it’ll take time for companies to acclimatize. After all, change doesn’t happen overnight.

Luckily, with the growing trend, there’s also a proliferation of online collaboration tools. These tools are helping companies with the shift. Here are 15 of the best—across categories like communication, brainstorming, project and time management.

Online Collaboration Tools for Communication

Chances are, you know Google Hangouts and Skype. There’s no question these are powerful platforms for remote communication. But, there are other remote working tools to consider.

#1 SLACK

As a business owner, I use Slack to communicate with my team daily. Typing this, I see the Slack desktop app out the corner of my eye. When I receive a message from my team, I’m instantly notified.

Slack provides a simple chat interface, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. You communicate in channels organized with hashtags. Create any hashtag you like from SEO, website design, incoming leads, proposals, contracts and more.

Channels ensure all conversations, files and documents are where they should be. You don’t spend time searching for specifics relating to a project. If information gets lost, search for it with the handy search function.

Alternatively, share confidential information in private chats.

Integration with other apps is also possible. For instance, MailClark lets you send emails and Facebook messages in Slack.

There are powerful features in the Free Forever Plan but upgrade anytime for advanced features. Slack pricing starts at $6.67.

#2 YAMMER

Yammer is a social media network for business. Communicate privately with colleagues, share documents, files, like someone else’s status and collaborate effortlessly.

Access the platform with a simple sign-up using your company email address. Because it’s owned by Microsoft, integration with SharePoint is possible. What’s more, this online tool is entirely free.

#3 APPEAR.IN

Appear.in is a video conversation app offering split-screen sharing.

Create a chat room with no sign-up, registration, or downloads. Visit their site, create a room link, and share with up to eight people, for free.

Access is available via any device although you need the app when signing up on iOS.

premium version is available for $12/month.

#4 QUIP

Quip is your central hub for online communication. Create, share and discuss documents centrally—in real-time.

With Quip, you don’t spend time searching for information as there’s one version of your work. No more long email chains and multiple versions of your work. Also, use their mobile app to communicate on-the-go.

Quip offers a unique free trial. It’s based on activity, not length of time. Thereafter, pricing is $30 for a team of five and $10 per extra person.

Online Collaboration Tools for Brainstorming

Ideas are the lifeblood of any organization. Far too often people think up an idea but don’t act. These three online tools will help move an idea from conception to execution.

#5 IDEAFLIP

Ideaflip is a space for your ideas. It’s a simple, yet powerful web app that:

Converts your thoughts into ideas.

Lets you share those ideas.

Helps you refine those ideas with real-time collaboration.

Group brainstorming sessions are possible with a desktop and mobile version.

Join for free as an editor, contributor or viewer and access a limited amount of idea boards. The basic subscription starts at $9/month for access to unlimited idea boards.

#6 MINDMEISTER

This collaborative mind mapping tool allows you to capture, refine and share ideas with colleagues and collaborate.

Currently, over 7 million people use it to brainstorm, take notes, plan projects, and work on other creative tasks.

MindMeister is web-based, meaning no downloads or updating, and it works with your preferred operating system—Windows, Mac, or Linux.

If you want to take things further, why not integrate MindMeister with MeisterTask, the online task and project management app for teams.

Sign up for free and access three mind maps or upgrade to a personal, pro, or business plan. Pricing is $4.99, $8.99 and $12.49, per month, respectively.

#7 CONCEPTBOARD

Conceptboard is another visual online collaboration tool optimized for creatives and remote teams. It’s a one-stop solution for crafting and managing projects and feedback.

The online tool provides a flexible canvas that expands as you add content. Create mood boards, map out strategies and brainstorm live.

Sign-up for a free trial for 30 days. Pricing starts at $28.50 for three users and $9.50 for each extra user.

Online Collaboration Tools for Managing Projects

Project management is difficult at the best of times, but managing a remote team can be even more difficult. These five collaboration apps will help.

#8 TRELLO

Trello is a collaboration tool that makes organizing projects fun by combining lists, cards and boards.

Your board is your project that consists of cards on lists. Sound complicated? It’s actually quite simple. For example, you may create a “blog board”. On the blog board, you’ll have different lists like, “incoming brief”, “freelance writer busy writing”, “internal review” and “with client”. With this workflow, you can move the individual cards on each list from start to finish.

With Trello, see what projects are on-the-go, who’s working on it, and where something is in the process. Move content through your editorial calendar, products through the development, phases and leads through the sales process… the possibilities are endless.

The Forever Free Plan gives you access to unlimited boards, lists and cards. But there are limitations like the size of files you can upload. For premium features like integrations with Google and Salesforce, upgrade to a business plan for $9.99/month.

#9 CANVA FOR WORK

Don’t have the money to pay an expensive designer? Have a little DIY design streak in you? Canva is the easy-to-use design software that lets you create your own designs without spending a fortune. Admittedly, many designers also use the platform.

While the free version packs a punch, for more features upgrade to Canva for Work. Use the intuitive drag and drop editor to create stunning graphics and designs. Access more designs, templates, logos, fonts, custom brand colors and collaborate on designs in the “team stream”. Pricing starts at $12.95/month.

#10 EVERNOTE

At its core, Evernote is a note-taking tool. But, it can double as a powerful collaboration tool for managing projects.

Adding notes is easy, and as you add more notes, the more useful it becomes. This article on Lifehacker highlights the many uses of Evernote. From using the Web Clipper to creating project notebooks to sifting through notes with saved searches and using notes to move between related information—it’s clear Evernote is a powerful tool. Here are some other features:

  • Create project to-do lists to organize projects.
  • Collaborate remotely on a group notebook with easy notebook sharing.
  • Create as many notebooks as you want. While creating many notebooks seems counterintuitive, Evernote curates important content for you.
  • Transform your written notes into a digital format and store in the relevant project notebook.

It’s available on iOS and Android. While free to use, you can upgrade to the Plus Plan for $3.99/month or $34.99/year. A premium version is also available.

#11 FRESHBOOKS

As you may already know since you’ve found your way to our blog, FreshBooks is cloud accounting software designed for small service-based businesses. But our platform also offers an online collaboration feature to help you manage projects.

Collaborate with team members, invite employees, contractors or clients and communicate about existing projects.

You also don’t have to spend time searching for files with centralized file storage. And if you’re on-the-go and want a quick project update, access the current project overview straight from your smartphone using the iPhone or Android app. Manage your work or an entire remote team—the choice is yours.

A free trial 30-day trial is available, no credit card required, with plans starting at $15/month.

Online Collaboration Tools for Managing Time

Time is a finite resource. And if time’s so important, then managing it is too, right? Here are five online collaboration tools that will help you better manage your time.

#12 TEAMBOOK

Struggling to plan your team’s schedule? Use Teambook to see who’s working on what, and when, in real time.

Make smarter decisions by tracking current staff availability, budgets and time spent on projects. For example, If someone is spending more time than they should on a project you’ll know, and can get to the root of it.

Sign-up for a 15-day free trial. Thereafter, pay $39 for the Pro Plan, giving you access to 40 projects and unlimited users.

#13 DOODLE

Meetings, whether you love or hate them, are essential for checking in with employees, getting status updates and reviewing progress. But managing meetings are time-consuming without the right tools.

Enter Doodle.

It’s a simple scheduling tool that integrates with your existing calendar—from Outlook to Google Calendar. Add as many calendars as you want.

Also, you don’t need to switch between applications and appointments sync automatically. Neat, right?

A free version is available with paid plans starting with the Private Plan for $39/year.

#14 ACUITY SCHEDULING

Acuity is another online appointment scheduling tool. It lets your clients view your availability, in real-time. They can self-book appointments, cancel or even reschedule. Here are some benefits:

  • Zero confusion about appointment times with auto-adjusting time zones.
  • Only let clients see what you want them to see with “privacy” features.
  • Prepare for meetings with intake forms that capture pertinent information.
  • Accept payments with Stripe, Square, Braintree and Authorize.net.
  • Integrate with your favorite existing platforms (like FreshBooks!
  • A 14-day free trial is available. Upgrade to one of three plans, starting at $10/month.

#15 CALENDLY

I used Calendly for the first time when a client shared a link via email. I copied and pasted that link into my browser before hitting enter. The client’s calendar appeared and I selected a suitable appointment time. The app then added that time to the client’s calendar. Using Calendly is *that* easy.

To get started, just sign up and inform Calendly on your availability. Calendly does the rest. When you’re ready, schedule an appointment by doing what my client did.

Notable features include:

  • Auto-adjusting time zones.
  • Integrations with Google, Outlook, Office 365 and iCloud to prevent double bookings.
  • Automation of tasks through integration with apps like Salesforce and Zapier.
  • Works well for individuals and growing teams.

Try for free or upgrade to their Premium Plan for $8 per user, per month.

Remote working is here to stay. As a result, more and more companies are embracing it and experiencing both the benefits and challenges that come with it. Luckily, with the trend proliferating so too are online collaboration tools that can help.

One More Thing to Consider…

FreshBooks also offers a time tracking feature that lets you track time spent on projects for clients.

Log into FreshBooks to access the time-tracking features. Click the “Time-Tracking” tab. Start the time or log hours you’ve already worked. Based on the accurate time data you can:

  • Focus on important work without worrying about tracking time
  • Capture all billable hours meaning there’s no lost revenue
  • Automatically bill clients for work
  • Keep track of your team: know what’s working and what isn’t and better allocate resources
  • Pull tracked time directly onto an invoice for quick and easy billing

Try FreshBooks free for 30 days.

These 15 highlighted tools are among the best. Have any to add? Please let us know in the comments below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Darlington is a feature writer, B2B Blogger, copywriter, and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. If you’re a business looking to create a stronger brand, gain industry authority, capture more leads and get more clients, visit nickdarlington.com.