How do you stay up to date with trends in your industry/field?
Getting out to events. There's a surplus of events, workshops and meetups happening around Kitchener-Waterloo if you look for them. Meeting up with people and having some quality face-time is key. It's the strongest source of inspiration and motivation for me.
Twitter and Medium are the other two main online sources for seeing what others in the industry are up to.
What are your top five applications or programs?
Buffer - I could go on at length about how much I admire this company in general. The way they share process and are so transparent is a big inspiration for Ways We Work. They have the best tool for scheduling and analyzing social media content. Plus an nice extension for Buffering things wherever you are on the web. I’ve tried many tools for this but they win at being a powerful tool without being overly complicated.
Todoist - I used the free version of this to-do list app for just a day before I bought the premium one. A month ago had I filled this out I’d have said I was still using notebooks for to-do lists. No app I’d tried in the past managed to do what I needed it to. I think it takes me 5 seconds to add a to-do, assign it to a project and set a due date. It’s difficult to explain exactly why Todoist works so well for me, it just works and is easy to use.
Evernote - I’ve only been using it heavily for the last few months. After reading Thomas Honeyman’s post on how he uses it, it’s become a staple. I love the simplicity of his system and I stick to only adding the best content I come across to save to my Reference notebook.
Pocket - This one is my catch all, opposite from Evernote where I only save the best stuff. I use Pocket to find and save great tools and articles for the Ways We Work blog. I also use it to just save stuff I want to read myself whether it’s related to Ways We Work or not and use tags to organize it all.
Mailchimp - The iPhone app is great for keeping track of when newsletters have gone out and it offers full analytics on how they’re performing. Mailchimp in general is a great tool but they’re so incredible at marketing you probably already know that.
The main thing all these apps have that makes them so successful in my workflow is that they have extensions for Chrome and integrate with everything else I use. I never actually think about any of them because they just work and keep things running smoothly.
Best way to stay on top of email?
In total I have around six email addresses but it doesn’t feel like much because all of them just come through Gmail and I can respond using either of them right in Gmail. I use the web app and the iPhone app for Gmail. Nothing else I’ve tried has come close.
In terms of managing the amount of email, there is never more than 10 emails in my Inbox at one time and this is thanks to Todoist and Streak.
Todoist is the best to-do app I’ve encountered. Again it hits the sweet spot of being powerful without being complicated. It has a Gmail extension where I can click a button and turn an email into a to-do, then I archive it and it’s gone. Todoist will link me right back to it when I’m ready to deal with it. Turning emails into to-dos with notes, deadlines and context has been huge for me.
Streak is another extension for Gmail that is a CRM right in your inbox. I can put conversations in boxes and move those boxes through a pipeline, this is great for managing interviews for the site. Having conversations grouped in boxes to access later also means I can archive away and get stuff out of my inbox.
What is your best time-saving trick?
A to-do list. There’s no way I’ll remember everything that is going on. Having a good to-do list means I know what I can get done when I’ve got a few spare minutes.
One non-tech thing you can’t live without?
People. It’s easy to get sucked into work and running Ways We Work. Making sure the numbers are going up, making sure there’s great content. Sometimes it can feel like you’re throwing stuff into a black hole and hoping it finds someone who will be inspired or intrigued.
Every time I have lunch or coffee with someone, or go out to an event in town and people give me great feedback on the project or suggestions or just want to talk about it, I get a huge burst of energy and motivation to keep making it better.
What does your workspace look like?
Realistically most nights it’s my couch with two cats nearby. Occasionally I use my desk. Really it’s wherever I’ve got my laptop and a solid wi-fi connection.