Tools: A Bit of Everything

This is my final post on the subject of the tools I use, and this one will be a bit of a grab bag. I’ve either written about these at length fairly recently or they just didn’t warrant a big long post because they were fairly straightforward. So today I’ll hit the highlights so you can see everything in one place.

If you missed the rest of the posts in this series (and any future items I add to the series) take a look at the sidebar to see all the posts in the series.

Evernote

I’ve mentioned in a few of my recent tool reviews that Evernote is the place where I store all my client files. I don’t even keep them on a hard drive anymore in files and folders unless a client shares a Dropbox folder with me.

I just put them in Evernote.

One piece I do need to add is a proper Evernote backup. The whole Evernote database is backed up daily with my SuperDuper clone at the office, on weekends at the house, and in BackBlaze.

These backup systems would restore my entire Evernote database if I lost the whole thing, but it wouldn’t restore a random note I deleted by accident. Evernote Premium and Business customers do have a fairly robust trash to dig notes out of, but I’d still like a backup plan that I had more control over, not requiring me to rely on Evernote. What if Evernote central has an issue and I lose data?

To that end I’m looking at services like cloudHQ to sync my notes into my Dropbox account.

If you’ve got a good Evernote backup solution, please comment and let me know what it is.

I wrote a fairly long review of Evernote recently if you want to dive deeper.

Fluid

Dealing with a web application and wish it was more like a native application? Here is where I use Fluid.

Fluid is a custom web browser for your application. It allows you to take your favorite (most used) web apps and effectively turn them into desktop apps.

Setting up a site in Fluid is very simple. Open Fluid, plug in the web address you want to become the application. Name the application and choose the icon you want it to have.

Create a Fluid App

With that done, click ‘Create’ and Fluid will create a brand new Mac application and put it in your applications folder.

I used this with Redbooth, FreeAgent, Bitbucket, Trello, and now 17hats. Fluid is a pretty simple tool that simply allows me to launch the ‘application’ from the keyboard instead of launching a browser and then flipping through tabs to find the one I want.

I’ve always found using ⌘-TAB easier to remember than flipping tabs. Having the sites open in other tabs means I accidently ⌘-TAB to trying at get to the one I want, then realize my error and go back to the browser to find the tab I wanted.

Calendly

One of the biggest ways you can waste time is booking appointments. A typical scenario is that you email someone various times you’re available, but when none of them work, more back-and-forth is required to settle on a time that works for both of you.

A more efficient approach is to use Calendly (or some other service) and let your clients book their own time. I simply set up the times I’m available and when a client wants to book a meeting I send them the link to my calendar and they can book it.

I can even add required form fields so they can only book the time if they provide me with their Skype information or a good phone number, so I don’t have to chase it down later.

Google Contact Sync and Contact Cleaner

I store contacts in 2 different places. The first is iCloud, which syncs the contacts to all my Apple devices.

For a long time, my biggest problem with that was I used the Google Apps web interface for email, which meant my iCloud contacts wouldn’t show up in my Google Apps address book unless I added them to the Google address book and the Contacts on my Mac.

I’ve tried a bunch of web-based solutions or Mac applications that claim to sync your iCloud and Gmail contacts but none of them ever really worked — until I found Contacts Sync for Google Gmail (boy what a mouthful of a name).

To use this, simply download it from the Mac App Store and give it your Google account password. Now it’s going to run a little app in your menu bar, and a few times a day it’s going to sync your two address books.

The second contact-related tool I use is Contacts Cleaner. This little app scans your contacts and finds duplicates, bad phone numbers and many other things.

Before you use it make sure that you export your contacts and save the export somewhere just in case you remove contacts you actually need later.

I run this monthly to clean up any things that have crept in. My biggest issue is how it looks at Skype contacts. I always make them a ‘custom’ phone number but Contacts Cleaner doesn’t see an actual number there so it flags the information.

What I didn’t cover

You’ll note a bunch of things that I haven’t covered in my tools series, like all the development tools I use. That’s intentional for now, since this site is focused on writing about business. For that reason, I didn’t feel they fit here.

However, for any of you developers that read, here is a quick list of the development tools I use, with links so you can explore them further if you’d like.

That’s it for my tools for now.

Are there any great tools I missed? Anyone using a great CRM that I should look at?

photo credit: ntr23 cc

2 Replies to “Tools: A Bit of Everything”

  1. Gotta say I’ve been fairly glued to your Tools series.

    In the end, what would you recommend for contacts + proposals? 17hats had a pretty good feature set, but the all-in-one aspect drove it down a bit (projects were too cumbersome).

    Right now I’m looking for a way of managing the sales process without too much bloat (I’m a solo freelancer). What would you recommend?

    1. I use 17hats and I only start up a project when it’s time to do an estimate so that limits the projects started. Then I just archive it if the client doesn’t follow through with the project.

      For contacts I currently use the Mac Address book but I’m working with Contactually (http://contactually.com/) as well for follow up and such. So far it seems that Contactually reminded/earned me $14k in a project I had forgotten about and it told me to follow up with a contact.

      I didn’t include it in the tools series because I started using it at the beginning of January and I like to use something longer before I really dig in to it.

Comments are closed.