I wrote a blog the other day about my first year on my own, and one of the points I made was about spending money on things that make your life easier. So I thought i’d do a quick blog on what I use, because maybe it will help someone else (and maybe/probably someone will recommend me something better than what I use!) So here goes
Urgh. This is one of the biggest time drains going. So I use a meeting scheduler. I’ve tried a few
All have some good bits, none of them are perfect even the paid versions. I currently use a paid version of Savvycal mainly because of quite a nice interface for visually seeing space in a diary rather than just time slots. I also actually still have the free version of x.ai attached as I quite like the “meeting prep” reminder which shows me my meetings for the next day. If anyone knows of others that do everything you need please let me know!
Cost to me £9 per month
I use G suite for email, calendar and docs. I can’t really complain, although I am tempted to use Hey for email if I can find a good calendar app to go along with it. I used a personal Hey account for a little while and it is really really good. It’s now available on business, and I’m thinking about it…update….turns out you can integrate with Google calendar, but then i would still need G suite. Is the cost worth it…hmmm
For docs, well I’m a fan of Gsuite. No it doesn’t have as many features as Office, but I actually think that is a good thing. Like a restaurant with only a few good things, rather than one that serves everything and you have no idea what to have. And google docs/sheets etc are a world apart when it comes to collaboration.
£9 per month for G suite currently (Hey is £9 per month per user)
Zoom and Google Meet. Why? Because Zoom has the best quality and google comes with G suite. I have to use Teams some time…urgh. I’ve also taken to trying to use the actual telephone when I can, and go for a walk while doing it. If you take one tip from me, try this. I know, old school, but get away from the screen.
I have also experimented with different ways of getting a webcam. I’ve used a go pro, which gives a really great quality but because its wide field of view shows EVERYTHING in your room….probably best for training sessions or when you have a really clean office. I’ve also used Ivcam to use an old mobile phone as a webcam…works surprisingly well.
£12 month for zoom
I’ve avoided saying just CRM, because I use a few things for knowledge collection/storage/manipulation/use. I use Airtable as a sort of CRM. I have it linked to my calendar via zapier which pulls through meetings with details of when, how long and what it was about. I then use Airtable to categorise activity which can be used to look at themes and relationships. I can also use it like a normal CRM to track if people have responded to things and set reminders, although I use it less like this personally just due to how I work.
I’ve recently started using Roam Research for notes and write ups. I find it really good. It doesn’t have the nice feel of Notion etc, but I love the ability to link pages with bi-directional links. This is amazing for theming things and pulling together reports. It helps me with broad ideas and pulling them into something coherent and consistent. The markup approach might feel weird to people who don’t code, but I really like it.
£9 per month for airtable (free version is pretty ample for most things)
£9 per month for Roam Research
I use miro at times. It’s nice. I can’t honestly say it’s better or worse than mural….I think they are pretty similar? I do like the space and the journey you can create, but to be honest I end of using a google doc with a few question on it more than miro, because people find it easy and it’s better for people with crap internet
I have been playing around with Spacedesk to have my laptop as a second monitor to my desktop computer for training sessions. Yes I could just buy another monitor and probably will, but thought this was interesting if you don’t have that luxury.
£7 per month for Miro
Time tracking and billing
I’ve been using Harvest for a while, it’s pretty good, it can sync to google calendar (not automatic) to allow you to input and update time allocation to projects and clients. It can then sync to Xero which I use for my accounts. You can automatically create invoices in Harvest which can be loaded into Xero for sending.As I said earlier I’ve been playing around with using Airtable and Zapier to gather info from my calendar. Using this method I can also do time tracking, and invoices. Problem with this method is that I’d need to upgrade to zapier pro which is around £20 a month, and I’m not sure it’s currently worthwhile.
£9 per month for Harvest
Whole load of things here depending on what I’m doing, probably better to do it’s own post! Short version is it is often rather simple, using Google Sheets or Airtable. Sometimes I use Tableau or PowerBi or Google Data Studio. At times I’ve used Flourish or Carto. Honestly though, just start with collecting and storing structured data well, the rest becomes so much easier!
£ various — most have a free version which are reasonable.
Other things that make my life easier better
I spent money on a nice mouse and wireless keyboard — Logitech Master MX and Keys. £200 well spent
I use a Remarkable for note taking, doodling, reading stuff. Its good, I like it. Though my brother has just got a rocket book and that seems pretty cool
Oh and I bought a 32 inch monitor, because looking at stuff is easier.
Total per month = £70
Time and headaches saved = loads
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