Plaxo lets you make and send your own greeting cards.
Plaxo, Boomerang for Gmail, Tungle.me, Toggl & more
Target audience: Marketers, strategists, nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, companies, brands, start-ups, bloggers, Web publishers, individuals. Updated on July 25, 2011.
If you haven’t tried them yet, have a go. Or try one of the other Web 2.0 productivity tools that Socialbrite has marvelously chronicled.
Plaxo: A ‘universal’ address book
1Until recently, Plaxo was somewhat lacking as a social network, no matter how much it tried to Face-Twit-book-terify itself. Its strength, to me, lies in its original offering, which they’ve now refocused on: the “universal” address book that allows you to keep your contacts current even if you switch jobs, email services and so on. Now they’re offering a direct sync with Google Contacts if you’re a premium user (read, give them money, currently just under US $60 a year).
I am a premium user, which means I can keep my contacts current in both places, which will be useful should I ever stop using Google Contacts. Google Contacts also syncs with my BlackBerry, which means I really do have my contacts at my fingertips. These are great time savers – remember when you had to export your contacts as a .CSV file, import them, snore … ?
The other thing I really like about Plaxo’s offerings are its ecards. I use them all the time to schedule and send mostly birthday greetings to my friends, family and business contacts, which is another way of networking with a twist. This was one of the reasons I signed up for Plaxo’s premium service some years ago. I figured the resulting selection of additional ecards (you’re limited in your selection if you use the free service) would more than offset what I would otherwise pay to actually buy a card, mail it to someone, etc.
I also now use Plaxo to make and send our own greeting cards, which has cut down significantly on holiday postage. Yes, I send a lot of cards. It’s disappointing that Plaxo doesn’t know when I’ve already scheduled ecards and keeps emailing me reminders about various birthdays, etc., coming up. But that aside, the ecards are cool.
Boomerang for Gmail: Schedule your emails!
2This is something I’ve just started using and I really like it. Essentially, Boomerang for Gmail lets you draft and schedule emails to be sent at a particular time. This is an excellent way of ripping through your work when you’re on a roll, yet not scaring people into thinking you’re a sleepless work demon when they receive emails from you at 2:43 am. You can also decide when you want to respond to email by telling Boomerang when you want to “receive” it, i.e. read something that’s already come into your in-box. I’m not quite sure how useful this is because if I’ve already read it, chances are I’ve already decided whether or not I’m going to reply to it, whether it’s spam or whether I label/star it, etc. But I’ll go with the flow.
Boomerang for Gmail recently became available for download without an invitation code. Once you download and install Boomerang, you’ll see it in the top-right corner of your Gmail screen. I tested it almost immediately and after a couple of missteps – I had a pop-up blocker that I needed to disable – it worked perfectly. Note: if you look at your draft after you have saved and scheduled it, it won’t work. At least for me.
Their customer service is also pretty good. When it wasn’t working for me, I emailed them and got a reply almost immediately from their CEO. Nice!
Tungle.me: Collaborative scheduling
3I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Tungle. When people use it instead of email to schedule meetings, it really saves time. I’ve been including it in my e-signature for a while now, and have incorporated it into my website as well as my Waxing Unlyrical blog. Check it out and I’m pretty sure you’ll become a fan.
Toggl: Track multiple projects & clients
4If you need to track your time for your clients or projects or want to move up from a basic spreadsheet but don’t want to lay out a lot of cashola, try Toggl. It’s easy, free (up to a point) and lets you track multiple projects, clients, etc., including those that are billable and those that are not. Even if you don’t have to track your time, it’s still a good exercise to undertake. Doing so lets us see how we spend our time — assuming we are disciplined and truthful about it. And this can help when negotiating or renegotiating client agreements or when you need to push back on a client who’s demanding too much, though we all know we never do that.
Bonus: it helps identify holes in your time management skills, including the amount of time you spend in/on social media. Plus, you’ll have an answer for when someone asks you, “Just how much time do you spend on Twitter?”
Google Docs: Updating docs with your team
5Google Docs let me share and update documents in real time with as many people who need to be involved, without the pain that inevitably comes with people emailing each other different versions of a document that you have to keep saving and re-saving.
Evernote: A revolution in note-taking
This could be something I plan to send to a client, a cool blog post I want to use in a Weekly Roundup or just something neat I have no idea what to do with at the moment, but I know I’ll want to come back to. The basic service is free.
If you use Seesmic, you can also save items from your Twitter and Facebook streams. I don’t. Hmpfh.
I realize this is a bit of a Google-heavy list, but many of the folks I know depend on the suite for their work and more. And if you don’t, hopefully you will find at least a couple of these useful in your daily work and play.
What productivity tools do you use frequently? Will you share in the comments below?
Shonali Burke is VP Digital for the digital communications agency MSL, Washington, DC (and a former Socialbrite partner). Follow her on Twitter at @shonali.
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