6 Apps That Drive Creativity and Productivity
I am constantly fascinated by technological evolving nature. You blink for a second and a brand new technology has become obsolete! If you take several years off from being involved in the industry, you may not even recognize some of the tech (have any of you seen an iPod lately??).
I remember very clearly when smartphones burst onto the market, and as a young twenty something, I insisted I would never get one. Well, come 2010 I had purchased a Droid X and was hooked on having the internet and access to a bazillion websites, videos, and wikis from the palm of my hand. Plus, who wouldn’t enjoy an operating system named after desserts!?
My love for technology grew throughout my younger years and blossomed in college, where I pursued a degree in Information Systems, took on a part time job filming and recording classes for distance education, and finally post college where I was charged with managing the technology for the student government at the University of Nevada, and then onto grad school where I first began blogging and delving into the world of social media during my MBA courses.
Both my degree and blog quickly led me to a new position at an insurance company. It was National Pancake Day (a blog topic) the day before my interview, and one of my interviewees had done their homework on my site and asked me if I liked pancakes as much as I enjoyed writing about them – I was quite surprised to hear that they perused my site. Don’t forget that people WILL Google your name. It’s only a matter of time…
My favorite applications, while relatively mainstream, are critical to my day-to-day personal and professional pursuits. I didn’t include any of the social media apps under the assumption that people are at least aware of what is offered. Granted, there are TONS!
Favorite Fun Apps
- Dropbox – This is the pervasive, all-in-one content sharing app. I backup photos, post shared documents for friends and family, and organize a very large portion of my online presence through this wonderful app. It was recently integrated with Microsoft Office so that I can edit directly from my phone and upload straight back to the cloud. Awesome! Also, it plays well with any device and syncing is a cinch.
- Shazam – Everyone’s favorite song identification app! Not only is this helpful in figuring out what song is playing, but they’ve also got a solid revenue stream from me when I click “Buy Now.” Easy! I currently use this in conjunction with Amazon MP3 (I don’t really care for iTunes since they won’t allow me to stream from any connected device) and that just makes it easy – kaching!
- PushBullet – A friend referred me to this nifty little app. It allows the “pushing” of content between PC and phone, phone and PC, etc. Have a hyperlink open in Chrome on your desktop but need to read as you go? Push it to your phone! You can also exchange files between multiple devices very, very easily, and they pop up on your screen right away so you don’t have to dig through the Download folder. However, my favorite feature is being able to send text messages! As long as my phone is powered on, I can send and receive texts from my PC, almost like I was texting from my phone. Makes it nice being able to fire off a few without even checking my device.
Favorite Productivity Apps
- Balsamiq – In the world of computer software design, mockups and prototypes are incredibly critical. This nifty and (literally) fun to use software allows for wire framing and mocking up of customer portals, websites, mobile apps – pretty much anything you can imagine. It is truly a joy to get the creative juices flowing, it’s easy to manage the wide variety of project files, and the output has driven productivity and the rate of making business decisions through the roof. It’s about as good as work can get – drawing a comic book to help drive business system functionality.
- SnagIt – The ultimate in workplace productivity software, this neat little package helps put together screenshots from your PC in ways you never imagined. You can clip, cut, rotate, add text, arrows, diagrams, etc. all with the purpose of making it clear to your audience what you’re trying to convey. I’ve used it for tech support, training manuals, troubleshooting with clients, and as always, a healthy dose of humor. Don’t be deceived that it is just a simple screen capture platform – it is far much more. If there is one piece of software I require at a company, this is it!
- WuFoo – This is perhaps one of the easiest and most intuitive form creation platforms I’ve ever used. While it lacks advanced (read: hardcore) form features, it makes creation, sharing, editing, and collecting results an absolute breeze. This software was the core functionality that I used at the University of Nevada to help create a system for data collection and analysis. Solid platform with reasonable pricing, and the flexibility and ease of use made it a fun experience to administer!
In this day and age, it’s entirely possible to be just as productive from home (or the coffee shop), as it is from a desk. Laptops, secure VPN connections into the enterprise, mobile apps, and a whole other slew of technology allow me to be constantly connected to the office, if the need arises, which makes managing work tasks and projects as easy as logging in and managing the fires when they break out. These applications promoting the pervasive nature of enterprise data only further the cause of productivity “outside of the office.” Welcome to the 21st century!
Technology and the Blogosphere
For whatever reason, people get a kick out of reading this blog. They don’t come in droves, and they don’t come by the thousands, but I have a pretty reasonable base of people who at least acknowledge that my content exists. I religiously share my personal experiences and put a fun twist on them. Technology, business experiences, my IRONMAN triathlon training – it all gets smashed into one shared story with lessons learned, mistakes I never thought I would make, and the occasional success that I feel is worth sharing.
I use my social media accounts to share out to the world that my content is alive and well. I always pick very vivid pictures, ideally, pictures that I have taken or that have my favorite superhero Iron Man in them, to sell the story that I’m telling. I share the blog link out through Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, although most views are primarily driven through Facebook, but I have picked up followers and re-tweeters from Twitter. I also share my more professionally orientated posts on LinkedIn. You’ll never know whom you’ll meet (hint: I got hired through a LinkedIn connection I went to school with).
As a final point, I have had great success leveraging my blog, in combination with Twitter, to fix customer service disasters that I’ve experienced. Have a look if you’re interested!
Good software, like what I use on a daily basis, should be friendly and easy to use. Combined with stellar customer service, it is truly the recipe for success with many of the companies that I’ve worked with, for, or purchased products and services from. It needs to be enjoyable, mutually beneficial, and well, refreshing! :-)
That’s all for now! If there’s one takeaway I have it’s this: share content about things in life that you have fun doing! Your readers will pick up on that very quickly.
Thanks for reading. You can find me in all of these places!