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By nature, workshifters need to have flexible solutions to suit their “work anywhere” style. Here are three tools I use to stay on top of projects and be efficient with every keystroke – at my desk, on the bleachers, or in the library.

Tom’s Planner: Visualize Project Planning

Tom’s Planner is web-based project planning software which produces Gantt-style charts. Schedule tasks, organize timelines and assign resources. Groups categorize tasks into functional areas, and a status field establishes stage of completion or to-do notes. Tom’s Planner lets you create charts and save them to the cloud for access from any computer. You can also save a copy to your local hard drive as an image or a PDF. Collaborate and share with team members by distributing access privileges.

Pros

  • Free (for one schedule) to low cost (20 schedules)
  • Much easier and more intuitive than Microsoft Project 
  • Rapid deployment – get projects rolling quickly 
  • No installation necessary (a great work-around if your IT department is rigid)

Cons

  • Would be more useful if it had the ability to create subsets of tasks 
  • Lacks customization of color palette or the ability to add texture (would help with a large project) 
  • Icon options are pretty limited 
  • Opens in a new browser window, cluttering up the desk tray

Evernote : Remember Things

Evernote is a clever way to digitally capture, categorize, and save everything. Save a voice memo or text note (the weekly deals from your favorite dining spots). Save a photo of a friend or a copy of a receipt for your expense report. Clip part of an online article to jump-start your next blog post. Evernote lets you save all of that important stuff up to your cloud account for access from any computer or mobile device.

What makes Evernote super-usable is the indexation and searchability. That photo of your receipt from Panera contained text, right? Well that text – “Panera,” and anything else in print – are searchable! Add tags to give saved items further meaning and organize all your stuff into stacks.

For example, if you offer freelance writing services you could have a “stack” of Evernotes for each client. Within each of those stacks you could have receipts tagged with specific project ID numbers or meeting dates.

Pros

  • Printed and handwritten text within images is completely searchable 
  • Free, up to 60 MB per month storage 
  • Synch across all platforms

Cons

  • You have to just try it to “get it” (kind of like Twitter)
  •  The free version has promos/ads (not a real big deal, though)

Dropbox: Cloud File Storage

Dropbox allows you to work on stored files even if you’re offline (it synchs up when you go online). Create folders and subfolders to store documents, spreadsheets, photos and other media. Dropbox gives you 30 days of Undo history for free! Talk about savin’ bacon. The free account gives you 2GB of space that’s accessible for an unlimited amount of time. Don’t risk losing your work due to a hard drive crash. Use Dropbox to save everything to secure remote servers.

Pros

  • Synch all files online 
  •  Access stored files from multiple computers and mobile devices 
  • Collaborate through file sharing privileges 
  • There are safeguards in place if a connection gets dropped

Cons

  • The synching isn’t instant, although it’s pretty close

There you have them, three of my favorite productivity tools. What are your favorites, and why?

Photo Credit: smemon87

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As Principal of Insights & Ingenuity, Heather helps brands earn customer preference. Specializing in digital channels, Heather’s firm provides brand-building positioning and content strategies to B2C and B2B companies. She’s a contributing author to Social Media Explorer, Content Marketing Institute, Shareaholic, MarketingProfs, and other media outlets. Find Heather on Twitter as @heatherrast or circle her up on G+ at gplus.to/heatherrast.
  • http://www.pursuingserenity.com Shannon

    I love Dropbox! Great for when you have misplaced your usb you saved that document to. Another site I use is http://www.mindomo.com, great for mapping out goals.

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com/ heatherrast

      Ooh, thanks for the tip, Shannon. I hadn’t heard of Mindomo, will definitely check it out. I’m with you, I can’t say enough good things about Dropbox.