I am a creative person, but I am also a business owner now, and I’m still finding out the best tools and methods to be more productive and efficient. In the last few months I have read a lot about business management and practices, I have also met a lot of business people through a lot of networking, which has been amazing on getting practical tips and advice.
Today I just want to quickly share the everyday tools that help me to get everything done.
I use Gmail for my two email accounts: personal and work. Gmail offers strong security features, different themes and add-ons, it is very easy to use and offers more that enough space for my needs (15GB). I can’t talk about the technical aspect but I’ve been using Gmail for more than 10 years and I have never had any problem or loss, I just checked that my very first email through Gmail was in 2004! and I never felt like changing.
I also love Gmail because is my one stop shop where I can access other useful Google tools, see below.
Time Management: Google Calendar
When I’m logged into Gmail I can quickly access my Calendar. I have learned to manage my time (personal and work) putting everything on it, it help me a lot with my time management: work hours, meetings, deadlines, etc. Checking my calendar is one of the first things I check every morning, so I know exactly how to manage my day tasks.
What I like also about the calendar is that I can share it with my family or colleagues. For instance I share my personal calendar with my husband so we can coordinate family activities, and I share my work related schedules with my business partner so we can synchronize our times better as we both work from home, and sometimes coordinating a meeting with clients is not easy.
Documents: Google Drive & Dropbox
Google Drive – Again: Google. As with my calendar I can access my Drive very quickly from my Gmail. I use Google Drive for my business to share administration documents and small files. It is also good when more than one person are working on a document and we are able to edit it without sending it back and forth in an email. We also use it as a cloud base storage or to share different kind of files.
Google Drive is a complete Office Suite, free and with a generous storage space where you can easily create folders to organize your documents. You can create word document, spreadsheets and presentations. It requires very little set up, you can drag and drop documents and they will upload automatically, and you can also use it to preview and save email attachment from Gmail.
Dropbox – This is one of the favorites cloud storage tools because it’s reliable, very easy to use and require very little set up. We use Dropbox mainly to share files with clients, as our graphic files can be quite big Dropbox is a better option than Google Drive, and we can upload all kind of files. Once the file is up we just click on the share button, add the client’s email address and they will get a email with a link to access the file. Nice and easy.
The files can be accessed at any time from the Dropbox website, desktop and mobile apps. There is no size limit for files to upload, the biggest one can take some time to upload depending on connection speed.
Graphic Softwares: Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe Creative Cloud is the service from Adobe from which we can access all the Adobe software for our graphic work. Adobe first announced the Creative Cloud in October 2011. Another version of Adobe Creative Suite was released the following year. And from 2013 Adobe announced that they won’t longer release their software as Adobe Suite and their software will be available only through Creative Cloud.
At the beginning almost everyone had the feeling that this new system was very expensive, the basic membership that includes all the softwares, now called apps, is AUD$50, but as I started using it I could tell that it was totally worth it when you work in the creative/design area. It not only offers the apps, it also provide cloud based storage and access to a number of free resources such as licensed fonts (Typekit) and high quality curated assets that we can use in our work. It also provide lots of training videos and tutorials, and instant updates on their products, all the time! I discover cool new features almost every time I use an app, so you are always up to date.
Although Creative Cloud provide more than 20 applications, at CREATIVA our favorites are Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Acrobat and sometimes Dreamweaver. Creative Cloud also provide a sharing file system for Team Memberships and you can access your applications from different computers so you can work on the go.
Social Media – Facebook
It is known that one of the first and most important steps for a business online presence these days is creating a Facebook business page.
I’ve read and hear people saying that Facebook is dying, I totally disagree, at least from my point of view. I use Facebook a lot, for my personal and business life, and it has been the best method to spread the word about us, gather new people, gain exposure and build our branding loyalty. I do like the fact that you can create very complete post to get your visitors attention, you have no character limit and you can choose the picture you want to display on your posts.
But most of all, I like the close relationship and interaction to can get with your customers, although it is an online environment is very easy to get into a close conversation within your comments, at the same time it is very easy for your customers to quickly contact you and get your feedback. Of course, you have to be very present and reply as soon as you can to make it worth.
As a Design Studio images are very important to us, so the use of photos and albums are also a great opportunity to create an online portfolio and take advantage of the great SEO that Facebook provides. The more ways people can find us, the better!
Social Media – Twitter/TweetDeck
I manage two Twitter accounts, personal and business, and to manage both at the same time I use TweetDeck.
TweetDeck is a social media dashboard application for management of Twitter accounts, that allows you to send and receive tweets, view profiles, notifications, etc. When you manage more that one account is very useful to have everything in one place, instead of opening different account in different browsers or logging in and logging out every time you want to check them. You can customize your screen with whatever you want to see: Notifications, Mentions, Messages, Trends, and more.
Just for fun – Spotify
ome people like to work in silent, I don’t. I need to have some noise around me, music or radio. Since last year my husband recommended me Spotify and I haven’t stopped using it. I got the premium version for some months but I came back to the free version since I wanted to save money and I don’t mind to get some ads in between songs.
Spotify is a music streaming service, you can find music by gender, artist, album, playlist, songs, etc. And you can save your favorites on playlists. With the free and premium version you can also listen from your phone, in my case I just use it at home from my desktop or laptop.
So these are the main tools I use to manage my every day tasks, they really help me to get organize, be more productive and get things done nice and smoothly. I’m still finding the right tool for Project Managing, so I will talk about that in another time when we have found the right one.
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