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Using Apps to Create a Productivity System

by Lyndsay Peters - Sep 16, 2015
meeting book for productivity

 
The great thing about running a digital marketing company is that your employees can work from anywhere in the world, and we've taken that to heart. With offices in Los Angeles and Serbia, there's activity happening around the clock, and there's always more we can be doing to keep everybody in the loop. As a result we've made it a priority to brush up on how we work together and collaborate on our internal and our client projects!
 
Recently we've made a lot of progress keeping in touch by making Slack our central command for communications, Dropbox our hub for filesharing and a few of us have adopted Wunderlist as a priority management tool. I'm going to outline how we're using them, and talk about a bonus 2 apps that are favorite productivity boosters of mine.
 
Here are some of the apps we're using around the ATAK Interactive office to keep our website projects on time, and our digital marketing clients happy.
 


1. Add Structure to your Storage with Dropbox


 
At $10 for 1TB of storage, it's hard to understand why anyone wouldn't have a Dropbox - but it's still important to separate work from play, and clients from each other.
 
We have a business Dropbox set up that lets us work from anywhere, and during a busy day of meetings or an extended vacation, access to your files can make or break your productivity.
 

Making the Most of Dropbox

 

  • Structure your files by client, project and date. There's no use in storing everything if you can never find it!
  • Make good use of auto-sync features. Turn on camera sync to snap meeting notes and add them to client folders when you get to a computer.
  • Request files from clients or coworkers. With Dropbox's File Request feature, you can get large files from clients and coworkers without requiring them to have a Dropbox account - making it much more likely you'll be able to keep everything in Dropbox.
  • Share with your coworkers. When I recently left on my summer vacation, I made sure anyone working on projects with me had access to my work files with a link to my Dropbox for ATAK. This way, nothing was gated behind my laptop password, so we don't have to compromise our information security in order to keep things running while someone is away.

 


2. Keep in Touch with Slack


 
Slack is one of those things that's become all the rage for all the right reasons. Slack lets you cut down on the number of internal emails you send (I even know of some companies that have eliminated internal emails with Slack!).
 

Slack for Productivity


An example of direct messaging and file sharing with Renee at ATAK. You can see that I have an unread message in #watercooler, our general chat channel.
 

If you remember using IRC channels, Slack will make a lot of sense to you right off the bat. If you aren't an IRC veteran, though, don't worry — Slack is easy to pick up and has a built-in tutorial.
 

Shaping up With Slack

 

  • Spin off Into Teams. You can divide into Slack channels based on projects, clients, priorities, and interests. For ATAK, we have internal teams, a casual chat room, a room to discuss lunch plans, as well as a few others. If you aren't in a chat room, you won't get notifications from it unless you're tagged.
  • Prioritize Your Teams. By pinning items to channels, you can keep your Slack teams notified of priority events... or lunch coupons on the company fridge.
  • Collaborate. With Slack's Snippets feature, you can share code and content easily without flooding a channel. Any team member who wants to see a full snippet can expand it, and everyone else can carry on with what they need to discuss. This is a great way to troubleshoot code problems when you're developing a website, or get a quick proofread on some site copy.
  • Share files. Slack's chat box also functions as an upload window. You can attach almost any type of file and upload it directly to your Slack channel.
  • Send fewer emails. Have a quick question? Send a Slack Direct Message toy our colleague and get the right answer in fewer steps.
  • Integrate Services. Slack can integrate with a lot of apps - a lot. We've integrated internal team channels with Dropbox and Wunderlist, two other apps I've listed here, as well as a few other services, like Google Hangouts for easy video chats.

 


3. Put This, Then This on Your Wunderlist


 
I am the queen of making to-do lists. Unfortunately, I am also the queen of completely forgetting where I have put them. That's what I like about Wunderlist. It's an app that you can sync across your computers and phones to make to-do lists as simple or robust as you need them to be.
 
We're using Wunderlist around the office to stay on deadlines and prioritize daily duties to ensure nothing gets skipped. We've also got it integrated with some of our Slack channels, of course! This means our teams can automatically update shared lists from inside Slack.
 

  • List Your Priorities. Use Wunderlist to plan your deadlines, even soft ones. Wunderlist can understand "Report Due October 7 at 10am" the same way it can understand "Check in with Austin next week". Wunderlist's Inbox will show you all upcoming deadlines across all of your lists, so that you don't end up missing anything.
  • Use Easy Scheduling. Wunderlist is a pretty smart app, and allows you to use natural language to schedule your to-dos by typing them into your sentence in the app. So, if you need to follow-up with someone tomorrow, just type "Follow up with John Tomorrow at 2" and Wunderlist will remind you. The app underlines your scheduling language to show you that it understands, as shown in my image.
  • Make Team Lists. If other team members are using Wunderlist, you can add them to one of your lists and assign tasks to one another. That's pretty handy and makes sure everyone is on the same page.

 

blog-wunderlist




Using Wunderlist's intellingent scheduling

 


4. Get Your Brain in Tune with Spotify


 
There are infinite distractions in an office, especially when you are always connected with things like Slack and email. Sometimes it gets to be too much, and that's when I turn to Spotify.
 
While it's nice to listen to my favorite artists throughout the day (I am loving the new Ben Folds and yMusic album, So There), I just can't focus intensely on analytics numbers or writing with them on.
 

  • Check out the "Focus" Playlists. Spotify has an entire section of their app dedicated to curated focus playlists. I love these. Some are electronic, some are atmospheric, and some have lyrics sung in another language. They all help me focus and minimize distraction.
  • Don't be Afraid to Try White Noise. When you've been really procrastinating a project you don't want to do, try putting on a White Noise playlist. I find they get your brain in gear and you can get what you need done. There are a ton of kinds of white noise, too - from basic "fuzz" to whole albums of various malfunctioning home appliances. I'm not kidding!
  • Reward Yourself and Hit the Slack Channel! Dig through Spotify and celebrate a morning of awesome productivity with a guilty pleasure (PRO TIP: Spice Girls are on Spotify, Wannabes.) Then share it on Slack and see what your coworkers come back with 🙂

 


5. Keep it in front of you: with a Rhodia Meeting Notebook and Simplified GTD


 
I am a pen and paper nerd in a lot of ways. When I first attended college, I became hooked on Cornell Notes, and the Rhodia Meeting Book builds that style of note-taking into a simple breakdown of notes and actions.
 

Rhodia Meeting Notebook




My Rhodia Meeting Book with an example of a task forwarded from yesterday, and a breakdown of writing a blog post.

 

 
Carry a Rhodia meeting book into a meeting and record notes and action items with the 2-column format, so that you can put your future projects and to-dos into Wunderlist when you leave the room.
 
My meeting notebook comes with me everywhere I go. It contains the notes I take at meetings as well as my day-to-day priorities. It's durable and high-quality, but not so fancy that you feel bad writing anything unimportant in it.
 

  • Simplify your To-Do List. My meeting notebook is where my daily list of must-dos goes.
  • Know You're Putting Something Off. I use a simplified version of the "Getting to Done" Productivity on paper method. I show priority with a star or a note, and I use an arrow to denote a priority I didn't get to yesterday. Anything with an arrow has to get done that day, so nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Keep it Tactile. I have a sharpie and a legend in my notebook that I use to quickly refer to calls, meetings and project notes for any given client in my meeting book. As well, when every priority on a page is completed, I tear off the corner. This makes finding my recent notes easy and lets me know if something is being skipped.

 
With these apps and a system to use them all together, my productivity is under control. I remember to note things down, and often just the act of remembering to remember something makes me less likely to forget. Plus with Slack, you can check in with your coworkers about what you're going to have for lunch after you work up an appetite doing great work.
 
Ready to work with a marketing team that's built to work together? Contact us at ATAK Interactive about your web development and online marketing projects - big or small, we're here to help.

Lyndsay Peters
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lyndsay Peters is Director of Search Marketing at ATAK Interactive. She's also the one who brings a dog to work to keep everything around the office just a little more human.

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