By Andrew Harper
It’s easy to become overwhelmed in the workplace, and sometimes we wish we had an extra set of hands. I’ve gone ahead and gathered our favorite office management tools, identifying the productive benefits of each one so you can pick which will help you most in better handling your work tasks, whether they be unread emails, or a big sales pitch, or anything in-between.
SaneBox is an email app that will scan through all of your emails and sort them into smart folders, such as important, reply later, spam, etc. Basically everything you would love to do with your email account but done for you. It works best for people who receive a large amount of emails daily and have trouble managing which ones are most important or who they’ve already emailed. PC Mag raves about the service in this review and offers a more in-depth view of the various subscriptions ranging from $7-36 a month. I did a free trial and it took my unread emails down from 32,000 (yes…. I know) to 9,000 (I know, I know). Sanebox uses an algorithm to even detect timelines within emails, like tomorrow vs next week. It’s genius.
I cannot say enough good things about this free spreadsheet service through Google. I personally use it to chart the growth and changes of the various social media accounts that I’m in control of, both for work and personally, in terms of number of likes, comments, impressions, reach etc. I can then select certain ranges or sets of data and import them into smart charts that suggest different types of graphs for the information you’ve chosen. If you’re familiar with spreadsheets then you know they’re a godsend for monitoring things like budgets or hours (read below for something interesting about that one). It’s like excel but much more user friendly… and free.
Standing for “if this then that,” this takes two services and connects them for you through commands. You can set it to automatically save photos you’re tagged in on Facebook to an IOS folder, or automatically save videos on YouTube that you “like” to a playlist on Spotify. My favorite is a button you can install on your phone that tracks your hours into…you guessed it… Google Sheets. That is incredibly handy if you are freelance or work from home frequently. There are even some odd ones, like a command that transcribes your phone calls and saves them to Google Drive. You can even create your own commands. Check out this review for more in-depth reading.
Wunderlist – Gary’s Favorite!
Another great free service, this application is all about list making. What I love about Wunderlist is that it organizes your lists by category and time, meaning you can create notifications for yourself that will alert you to deadlines. I have mine set to remind me through my calendar on both my mac and my phone. This is also good for sharing and collaborating on lists – for instance, you could create a wishlist and manage the privacy settings so that only certain people you send it to can see it. We use it at the studio for task management or images that we might need for certain projects and then set the list to be collaborative meaning anyone in the office can edit or check off tasks.
Last, but certainly not least, is the project management powerhouse asana. If Pinterest, Wunderlist, and Google Drive had a baby it would be this program. I love it. You can create project boards and email them out as collaborations which is exceptionally useful in a creative work environment such as a marketing agency or PR firm. I used it in school for group projects, and even sometimes as a running list of self-directed projects. I can create tasks, deadlines, locations, contact info, and add images for inspiration or reference. There’s also a separate messaging service between collaborators so that you can still communicate within the program without having to do so through notes on the actual project itself, which can become cluttered. I discovered asana through recommendation of friends who work in marketing, internet security, and social media. If you need any further evidence, like I usually do, here’s a link to the reviews of 2,000+ people who rated it 4.5/5.