It was a very satisfying feeling recently when we sold our flat in France and got rid of
- several hundred VHS videos
- 5 bookcases of books nobody was going to read
- 3 boxes of broken toys
- 2 sets of kids’ golf clubs
- assorted chipped china that had travelled across Europe
- and some boxes of magazines that were probably interesting in 2002. That was only the top layer.
This summer I saw my laptop was going the same way as the flat. I had too many places to save links. Too many Twitter apps. Too many tabs open. Too many things that looked useful and got used once. Like in the flat, there was hardly room for me.
So I had a summer clean. I’m a team of one, so I couldn’t see why I needed to get complicated.
The result is just 5 apps in my working life. Maybe the lean approach would suit you?
1. HootSuite for managing social networks
HootSuite has free and Pro versions ($9.99 a month). I use the free service to manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
The reason I choose HootSuite is that I can do all my social networking tasks there. That includes setting up draft updates, scheduling them, monitoring incoming streams, replying to messages and creating Twitter lists. I like the owl too.
You can do much more – check out this comparison if you want to add teams, use advanced analytics, or monitor social conversations.
2. Paper.li for finding content
I curate a lot of content around my main professional interests of content strategy, content marketing, curation tools and practices, communications strategy, social media, writing and publishing. I use Paper.li to find content, then I share it across different websites and social networks.
I’ve set up my main Paper.li Bite-size CONTENT Breakfast to gather tweets based on a Twitter list of the people I consider most influential on my topics. Early on I compared it to what I was receiving in my Google Reader and it finds all the same links – and is a lot more pleasant to read.
Each morning I scan the paper quickly for links I want to save for later reading or to share during the course of the day, and promote it with one tweet and an email to those who have subscribed. (Disclosure – I’m Editor of the Paper.li Community Blog.)
3. Shareist for saving links, reading them, writing drafts and making lists
Shareist is quite new and still in beta. I’m finding it a great place to do quite a lot of my basic work within one app. To a large extent it’s replaced Instapaper, Word and Google Docs for me (not completely, because it doesn’t yet allow for spreadsheets or presentations).
You set up “notebooks” that can be private or public. I save links to articles and videos, I write drafts, and make lists and plans in a private notebook. I also publish notebooks – simple websites – with resources for clients or partners.
It has a lot more to it than I’m currently using. You can create multi-user notebooks, can search for content, share content to social media, and add affiliate links to public notebooks, and more. It’s free at the moment – sign up here.
4. iPiccy for editing photos
iPiccy is a free, comprehensive app for fixing photos and adding effects. I use it for auto fixing , retouching, resizing, cropping, softening, blurring, adding colour etc. You can add text to photos or plain backgrounds, and create collages, slideshows and scrapbooks (through iPiccy’s partner smilebox). And you can paint on a canvas.
It offers a wide range of photo enhancements like colour tinting or the ability to change hue or saturation. Some of my favourite effects are Smart Blur and Orton Effect for making photos a bit kinder, and Colour Boost for adding drama.
iPiccy is free at the moment and you don’t even need to register.
5. Dropbox for saving and storing everything
Dropbox offers cloud storage which you can access through a desktop or mobile app online or off. I use it to back up everything on my laptop, so my data is accessible everywhere I work, whether on my phone on the train or at a client’s offices.
Once you’ve downloaded Dropbox to your computer you simply drag everything you want to store into a dedicated folder. Add as many devices as you want, and your data is automatically synchronised.
I particularly like that Dropbox is available offline, so you can work any time and synchronise your documents next time you go online.
There are free and paid accounts: free ones start with 2GB of space but you can earn more for referring friends and doing a variety of other things like tweeting about Dropbox. A monthly subscription is $9.99. Pro users can also download an add-on called Packrat which saves old versions of files indefinitely.
What apps do you use to organise your work online? What would you like that doesn’t exist now?
Did you find this article helpful or not? What would you have liked to read about instead? I’d love to have your feedback.