Working smart is part of any job. As a developer evangelist, I have to play multiple roles, and there are some tools that I always rely on to help me do a better/faster job. Here are some of them, and hopefully they can also be of use to you.
Boomerang for Gmail is a Chrome/Firefox/Safari extension that lets you schedule emails to be sent later, or set reminders. I love this tool and have been using it non-stop since the day I installed. Replying to emails at 1am (not recommended, but it happens) and don’t want to bother people? Just schedule it to be sent in the morning of the next day. Want the email to get back to your inbox in case no one responds? Set a reminder if no one answers. Super simple, but super useful.
I just recently started using SaneBox, but I already love it. My inbox has seen a steady growth in the amount of emails I get per day, and it’s been driving me a little crazy. I tried cutting back on the amount of times I check my email, and unsubscribing from some newsletters that I no longer read or was interested in, but it still wasn’t enough. SaneBox simply moves what it recognizes as unimportant emails from your inbox to a “SaneLater” folder, and then summarizes them in a digest. It also has some of the functionality of Boomerang for email reminders, but even without it, it has already managed to give me a good amount of peace of mind.
Rapportive is another extension for Gmail in Chrome/Safari/Firefox that I like to use. Whenever you type someone’s email inside a new compose window, Rapportive will automatically search for that person’s profile information, and show a nice resume on the right side of your screen. It will usually include a picture, name, location, and links to the person’s profile on different social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. It’s great for getting a little bit more context about the person, or simply remembering their face and the conversation you had instead of a company and position in a business card.
Whenever I find an interesting post or a story, I always add it to Buffer. It’s a way for me to share on multiple social networks, spreads the posts throughout the day/week, and also gives me some nice analytics and a digest on the interactions each post had. Plus, I like their philosophy (https://bufferapp.com/about#our-philosophy).
Blogo is still in beta, but I have been an early adopter for it (and used it to write this blog post). Think of a simple and fast way to write, manage and publish to multiple blogs. It’s a native Mac app, so you can use it without an internet connection, for example during plane flights, it has a really nice image editor, and the killer feature for me is the offline preview mode. It allows you to see how your blog post is going to look like with your current WordPress theme, so you don’t have to waste more time after you’re done writing reformatting everything.
- Full Contact Business Card Reader
Full Contact is awesome in and of itself. It allows you to grab all your contacts from Gmail, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and merge that information into a single account. Add to that the fact that they have an awesome app to scan business cards, transcribe it, and add it to your Google Contacts, iPhone Contacts, or Salesforce, and that is just cherry on top of the cake. Say goodbye to your file of business cards where you could not really find anyone, and have them all handy in one place.
Ever been to a website with a huge form, started filling it and got a “session expired” warning after pressing submit? Or typing that perfect reply to a comment on a thread or website, just to have it all vanish after your computer crashes? Fear no more, Lazarus is here to save you from this ever happening again! It’s another Chrome/Firefox/Safari extension that adds a small symbol to the right side of any textbox, that automatically saves forms as you type. It definitely decreased the number of times I swear at my computer.
If you read LifeHacker, or have a friend who uses Evernote, you probably heard about the green elephant. And if you’ve ever tried using it, but didn’t stick around, here’s my tip: find one simple use for it. I tried using it for 2 years, with no luck, until I decided to store pictures of all business cards, together with information about the person I met in Evernote. That one simple use turned me into a heavy-user, and now I use it for all sort of things, be it saving links and GIFs, to creating a separate offline notebook whenever I go to travel with all information such as airplane tickets, hotel reservations, maps, and a list of places to visit.
“The All-in-One Travel Organizer.” I will usually save plane tickets, and other travel information inside Evernote and also have it inside Tripit, but there’s one simple thing that makes Tripit awesome: Delay/Cancellation notifications. More than once a plane flight was delayed or cancelled, and Tripit saved me from getting to the airport and having absolutely no idea what was happening. Having your plane tickets in there is also a much simpler and nicer way to find information than on the giant boards full of text at the airport.
Raise your hand…who loves doing expense reports?! I don’t. And I love Expensify. It’s a really useful, and beautiful, tool to help with those damn piles of receipts. They have a SmartScan features that allows you to automatically scan receipts, but even with just the regular features it’s already much more practical and useful than scanning, creating spreadsheets, and dealing with currency conversions.
Now, what other tools do you use to work smarter? And if you’re a developer ready to dive deeper into this topic, check out Elmer’s personal productivity for developers.