Below is the first of a “thread” on the five best productivity enhancing tools that I use on a regular basis. What I find is as important as the specific tool itself is the selection of the category for these tools. In each case, I will write up the notion of the category as well as the tool itself. A word of caution: these tools can help, but you need time to save time as it takes some effort to set them up. Knowing yourself, your weaknesses and, most importantly, where you want to go (i.e. your objectives), are probably the best productivity winners. You will note that many of these tools are cloud-based… part of the new world order. So, here is the first one:
Managing your files:
Most of your files are typically saved on your main desktop or laptop. They are stashed in folders and sub-folders, in an array of spreadsheets, word documents and the like. Some are backups, some are rough copies, many need to be used/shared with other team members. Keeping track of where they are on your desktop is a challenge in itself, much less when you have to work in multiple places, on multiple computers with multiple other people. To have one’s most important digital files synchronized and available from any port (laptop, iphone, ipad or someone else’s computer), is absolutely vital (at least for me). It is also a perfect tool for those who work in distributed offices.
The solution : Dropbox
is extremely versatile, allowing you to share specified files with other partners as you see fit. The free version is ample for amateur usage. Membership is free and allows up to 2GB of storage “in the cloud.” One great aspect of Dropbox is the History section, which, when being used across many people, allows you to see who has done what. You also have a fabulous way to find backup or archived versions. Caveat: You need to be careful about the naming devices (especially when you are renaming) that can throw your files out of whack (for everyone with whom you are sharing the file). PS: A distant second alternative is Google Docs.
Another caveat: the files that uploaded on the free version officially belong to Dropbox. But, I have no reason to believe they will have an inappropriate usage of the data.