Oh god. Everything’s piling up. Too many emails. Your ears have started bleeding. Something smells sweaty and you think it might be you.
If one or more of the above ring true, then you’re not using the web properly. And you should maybe see a doctor. Seriously, though: life doesn’t have to be as difficult as you’re making it out to be. In fact, it can be dramatically easier if you set the right tools loose on your workload. Here’s how to put the web to work for you.
The web is full of shortcuts and secret hacks. There’s software out there, lying dormant, that can act as your own personal Dues Ex Machina. So easy and time-saving are these hidden tools, that knowing they exist isn’t half the battle, it’s the whole battle. Want to sort your working life out? Read on…
Too…Many…Emails? AI wrestles your monstrously bloated Gmail account into shape and makes it question what it’s doing with its life – much like your overly judgmental mother. We appreciate that Gmail’s layout leaves a bit to be desired as it is, so bear with us whilst we add another layer to things – it’ll be worth it. Promise.
Active Inbox does adds a bunch of new ways to tag your emails. If that sounds really complicated, it’s not. You simply add an action point, a ‘waiting on’ tag or add it to a specific date in your calendar with no more than three clicks, and then archive it.
That shunts it out of your inbox with a gentle ‘shoo’, but dunks it in a brand new toolbar at the top of the Gmail homepage. Here your emails are neatly stacked up as either things to do, emails with dates to remember or replies you’re waiting on. It’s infinitely simpler than Gmail’s default tagging nightmare, and it’ll result in a zen, empty inbox.
Link | ActiveInbox
If this, then that. I said ‘if this, then that’. It’s a simple premise that we all apply in the real world on a daily basis. Example: if someone falls over, then I will laugh. Why can’t that kind of system work online? Thankfully it does, only with less falling over.
Ifttt works on a system of ‘recipes’ that connect a ‘trigger’ to an ‘action’. Only it’s far simpler than that branded marketing speak would have you believe. There are 30 channels to choose from, pick out and connect up, including Facebook, Twitter, SMS, time/date, weather, Pocket and email accounts.
Hand over your user details for each and you’ll be let loose to concoct a mad slurry of linked up processes. Automatically thank people who follow you on Twitter, save articles, emails or tweets to Evernote, get an email whenever a specific hashtag is mentioned, receive a text when someone makes a calendar event or just set Ifttt to tweet @YourMateDave at 3am every morning to tell him he’s a slug. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Ifttt takes care of the simple dross that otherwise sucks time from your day.
Link | Ifttt
It’s always nice when something that sounds like it should be a fetishistic porn site turns out to be something ten, nay; eleven times more useful. WappWolf is just that, and it’s a gem of a tool for anyone already neck deep in the cloud.
WW is a bit like Ifttt (keeping up with all these?), in that it sets up a simple trigger and response system, but the difference is that instead of being a jack of all trades it’s a master of one: cloud storage services Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and Box.
Point it in the direction of either your whole cloud account or a specific folder, and then a wealth of options that’ll all make your life notably easier will appear, ready to become your little magic slaves. Whenever a new item lands in that folder, WappWolf can print it out, convert the file, email it to you, send it to a Kindle, zip it, rename it, Encrypt it or auto-upload to any other cloud service.
Anyone in charge of a social media page will have a field day with this, too, as WappWolf’s picture options are, frankly, insane. Any time a photo is added to the folder, you can get it to rotate, crop, watermark, convert, apply up to 30 effects (black & white, and the like) and then upload it to Facebook, Flickr, Picassa or Google+.
Combine that with Ifttt’s auto-blogging powers and you’ve got a really powerful tool on your hands.
Link | WappWolf
Monkey On Your Back
People are lazy. Yourself included. Fortunately, that’s a fact that can now be worked around. Or passed on, at least… Maybe ‘passed on’ is better. Monkey On Your Back offers just such a solution, providing a better way to keep on top of your minions.
Log in, and it’ll let you very quickly assign tasks to people in your contacts book. Give them a deadline, and the service will live up to its name, routinely dropping them reminder emails so that you don’t have to. Think of it less like silent bullying, and more of a way to ensure your team runs like clockwork.
It’s all gratis, and you can set up as many tasks as you feel is necessary to get your team off their arses. And, of course, there’s nothing to stop you from using it as a task master to keep yourself in charge. It’s just less fun that way.
Link | MonkeyOnYourBack
You’ve received an email that you really don’t need or want to bother with for a while. Don’t clutter up your folders and don’t let yourmind dribble it out of your ears: just fling it off to the guys at Followupthen, and they’ll make sure you respond when the time’s right.
Some examples? No worries: a client sends you an email that doesn’t strictly need to be taken care of until next week. Simply forward it on to email@example.com and it’ll boomerang back into your inbox a week from today. If you’re replying to someone but still don’t need to do much for a while, simply BCC followupthen with the required leeway.
Relying on a colleague to sort something for you? You know what they’re like. Why not jog them with an email, and CC in firstname.lastname@example.org? That was you’ll both get a reminder when those few hours are up.
There’s a whole ream of possibilities with this – you can even get the service to drop you a text – just send an email to 9am-SMS@followupthen.com and include your number in the subject line.
It’s like the personal assistant Siri wishes it was.
Link | FollowUpThen