Yesterday a friend sent me her latest design dilemma – she wanted some ideas around how to deal with an oddly spaced logo. I don’t really talk about my on-demand ideation and design fix-it services – but it’s something I’ve been doing more and more.
These days I consult more than code – and I find myself needing to send ideas quickly with clients, team members, and assistants.
So I want to share with you the free tools that are saving my life (and oodles of time so I can go back to binge-watching Below Deck Sailing Yacht).
My husband gets totally annoyed whenever I use this voice-to-text app (coming from corporate land he doesn’t understand why you wouldn’t just get on the phone or schedule a meeting) – but it’s a 100% daily mental sanity lifesaver for me. I use the pro version (big spender at $30 a year…) but you can totally get started with the free version. My cell phone is pretty much always off so I can focus (and forget about the landline that only seems to attract robo-callers trying to sell me a warranty for the death-wobble green Jeep I got rid of 2 years ago). Instead, friends and clients send Voxers so I can respond on my own time.
I MUCH prefer Voxer to regular text messages because:
- you can save messages and replay them as often as you need to
- you can see a transcript of the message (great for those long-winded folks)
- you can easily do group chats with team members
- it’s easier to set clear work/life boundaries (Voxer feels more pro than giving your personal phone number out to clients and students)
Know you could explain something better to your designer or student if you could just show them what you’re seeing? Loom might be one of the greatest freebie tools out there. I’ve been using it for years to share screenshots, how-to tutorials, and quickie design reviews. The free version is limited to 5 minutes (but brevity is the name of the game!) Upgrade if you want more features and unlimited recording time. I use Loom all the time to share quick thoughts with my assistant – I can demonstrate how to do something (like updating a website or adding content to a new page) and then she can reference it when she’s doing the task. (For longer website reviews and for more advanced editing for my on-demand videos I use ScreenFlow – but Loom is great for the quick stuff.)
I love Loom because:
- all you have to do is click one link in your browser to start recording (the Chrome plugin is fantastic)
- it’s WAY faster to record your thoughts than type them out in an email
- you can record your whole screen or just a single browser tab
- you can record your face AND your screen at the same time
- when you’re done recording, Loom creates a simple link you can share anywhere (like in an email or in a FaceBook group – this is great if you need to explain something quickly to a large group – like how to log into a program or how to do something technical)
Drowning in email requests? (It’s ok to hang your head in shame, I do all the things productivity experts tell you not to do and I use my inbox as a to-do list too!) Slack is an easy way around inbox filler – especially if you’re collaborating with a larger team or working with assistants.
I love Slack because:
- you can tag members with notes and requests
- you can have unique “threads” and “channels” for team members to contain on-going conversations
- your email inbox stays clear of unnecessary notifications or requests
- I especially love it when running group programs – you can tag tech support, customer support, and front-facing admins all in one place
- If you’re supporting multiple clients or teams, you can easily access several accounts at once (less switching between various apps)
No need to spend money until you need to – these tools can get you explaining yourself faster (splurge on one of my ebooks instead!)