Useful Work Tech Tools Actually Worth Your Time

MAKE 2017 MORE PRODUCTIVE WITH THESE USEFUL APPS AND ADD-ONS ...

There are literally hundreds and thousands of productivity-enhancing apps, add-ons and other technology services that promise to make your working life that little bit simpler and a whole lot easier. I often try out new bits here and there that I hope might make life a little more streamlined and efficient. However, I also delete or dismiss many things along the way as I just don't find them all that enhancing or useful. Like me, the last thing any of us need is a whole load of unwanted apps, emails or services clogging up our already overloaded daily online lives.

 Image Source: Unsplash

Image Source: Unsplash

Over time there are a few things that I've tried and continued to use and love. Apps and other online services that actually really help me out and I hope might do the very same for you. I thought I'd start sharing some of these as and when I have a list of favourites worthy of a mention. So starting today, check out my current recommendations, plus let me know any failsafe, can't live without apps or tech that you use on a daily basis that you think myself or other readers might also fall in love with.

1. Grammarly

As I often spend a large proportion of my day writing blog posts, proposals and lengthy emails this free spelling and grammar checker that you can install as an extension to Google Chrome (as well as use it in many other ways) is a godsend. I only use the free version and should probably think about upgrading to premium to get more of the very beneficial features. However, the free extension alone helps me out no end. 

Grammarly checks your grammar, punctuation and style as you write and if there are any mistakes to be fixed it will underline them in red and a little red circle will appear for you to click on to view and make changes to any errors. Seeing as Squarespace, the platform I use for this blog, has no built in spell checker I find this extension absolutely invaluable. It works across everything I do online and I love it. It also emails you once a week with a little update on how many words you've written which I think is quite a nice added and motivating feature!

2. Unroll.Me

One of the biggest distractions in my day, and I'm sure in many other peoples, is the dreaded email. I especially hate all of those nonsense emails that I get throughout the day from things I may have subscribed to ages ago and no longer have any interest in - or even from things that I'm interested in but don't want to be distracted by too many times throughout the day or week. Plus there are all the irritating things that you inadvertently get subscribed to just because you happen to have ordered or attended one thing, one time. This leads to way too much time just trying to clean up my inbox in order to even have a chance of tackling the actual important stuff! So step forward the very useful free services of the email 'unsubscription' service Unroll.Me which trust me is very, very handy.

Unroll.Me is a quick and simple way to clean up even the messiest of inboxes. Sign up with your email and it will instantly provide you with a list of everything that you have ever subscribed to. Simply go through the list and check the boxes to say whether you wish to add emails from each company to one easy daily digest or 'rollup' as they call it, whether you wish to unsubscribe altogether or whether you wish to keep the emails coming to your inbox as usual. This makes such a glorious difference to my daily email influx and is such a simple service that I've personally found incredibly beneficial.

3. Wordswag

The usefulness of the Wordswag app will depend on what you do for a living but if you spend a lot of time on social media, writing blogs or other articles online and like to share things like beautiful quotes or wish to overlay a title on a beautiful image as part of that, then this will come in incredibly useful - especially on the go from your phone. The app costs £3.99 but it's worth it. In my opinion this is one of the most user-friendly apps for words and imagery with some of the best results. 

4. Pexels and Unsplash

When I started this blog I really wanted to try and use my own imagery as much as possible. I love beautiful photos to accompany a post and spend far too long worrying about how something looks instead of just getting down to business! As time went on I realised that not having the right photographs was sometimes holding me back from just cracking on with getting my ideas down on the blog and out into the world. Plus as I often talk about work related subjects, creating my own suitable imagery can be a bit of a task. There are only so many ways that I can personally think of to photograph my own desk!

When I don't have personal, good quality images worth sharing to accompany an idea that I still want to share with the world, I now turn to either Pexels or Unsplash for royalty free stock photographs that are actually nice enough to headline a professional and creative post. These sites have really helped me out since using them and if you're in need of something similar I'd recommend trying them out. You don't even have to credit the photographs or photographer (I just do it to set them apart from my own imagery in line with my disclaimer!)

 

Which online tools or apps do you find most useful in your working lives? Anything you'd recommend me giving a go next for a more productive, inspired and creative 2017? I'd love to hear your favourites too!

Louise

 


5 Podcasts To Inspire, Intrigue And Motivate

I've been meaning to get into listening to podcasts for a long time but I've often been too distracted by other things to find time to listen to them properly. So whilst the world got well and truly on-board and really got inspired by all things audio I was still busy faffing around with other stuff! Recently though I've made time to tune in and finally listen to all sorts of podcasts to see what tickles my fancy and a special few are fast becoming a much appreciated source of ideas and enjoyment.

 Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Now as you may already know, there are so, so many podcasts out there on all sorts of topics and covering many genres. Today I'm sharing but a handful of my current favourites incase you are new to the podcast game like me and looking to get started. Or perhaps you're a huge podcast fan already and after something new to excite the ears! These five podcasts all bring a little brightness and thoughtfulness to my day and I hope they do the same for you too.

 

MY TOP 5 PODCASTS TO INSPIRE, INTRIGUE AND MOTIVATE

1. Tough Girl Podcast by Sarah Williams is definitely one to tune in to if you're looking for motivation and inspiration. Sarah Williams interviews women from all over the world, in all sorts of professions, who have faced any number of challenges. Get inspired by their true stories and the grit and advice on offer to help you overcome your own hurdles.

2. Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon is a podcast that also focuses on interviews with inspirational guests but the theme is very much centered on the digital age and how the internet and social media has changed the world we live in forever. Emma is also the author of a bestselling book by the same title that I haven't yet had a chance to read so I'd be intrigued to hear if any of you have read it and what your thoughts are?

3. Spark True Stories Live is a collection of true stories told by anyone and everyone in all walks of life and on any subject that you can imagine. Spark hold live events in London, Preston and Bristol where people are invited on stage to share their tales. It's so true that good stories bring us closer together and listening to these will bring joy, laughter and sometimes tears. They are also very short which is a nice change from some of the much longer and more in depth podcasts out there. Small snippets of real life delivered by real people.

4. The Lively Show by Jess Lively has regularly been listed as one of the top podcasts that all female entrepreneurs should listen to and is a very positive and uplifting listen. Jess tackles everything with a thoughtful brightness and her subject matter is always relative to the struggles of today's modern world. The advice imparted by herself and her guests leaves food for thought and intentional, useful points for action.

5. Don't Salt My Game with Laura Thomas PhD is one for when you need to get back on track when it comes to your own health and wellness. As a registered nutritionist Laura talks to all sorts of guests on many positive wellness issues. From mindfulness to finding better balance in your life, join Laura and her pool of inspiring experts as they cover both the good and the bad and share their professional and incredibly handy tips and advice.

 

So that's my personal top five right now, especially when it comes to finding motivation or sources of positive encouragement within life and in the workplace.

Do you listen to any of the above or do you have any further recommendations that you think I should be downloading next? Let me know in the comments below and happy listening!

Louise

 


Snapchat: Love It? Loathe It? Who To Follow?

Around about 18 months ago I downloaded the Snapchat app, created an account, stared at it feeling dazed and confused for about an hour, gave up and forgot about it! Until recently that was my Snapchat story and I thought that myself and the snappy little app were done. Short, sweet and over before I could even figure out how to use it.

 Account Pictured: Dasha Battelle dbatsnap.com

Account Pictured: Dasha Battelle dbatsnap.com

It's kind of quite well known that Snapchat is one of the least intuitive apps to use. In fact it sort of prides itself on that fact, almost like a secret club that you can't quite work out how to get into.

Although first released way back in 2011, it's over the past year or two that the app has started to gather a far wider audience. The appeal lies in being able to 1. work out how to use it, and 2. figure out who to follow so that you can see an unfiltered, in the moment, behind the scenes view into the world of your friends, your favourite celeb or some other form of online influencer.

Before I continue, I must emphasise the fact that I'm no techno expert, despite my recent post on Periscope and now this but I do enjoy trying these things out and investigating. So refusing to be deterred by my earlier attempt into the Snapchat world, I've decided to give it another go.

For me the jury is out. I'm still in the early stages of my journey into this snappy world and I haven't quite figured out if I really see the appeal. That said, seeing as it's now the third most popular social network amongst millennials, and definitely here to stay, I guess I'm going to have to keep an open mind and see what happens.

Having tuned in to some of the usual suspects I've found a core few whose snaps and videos are incredibly creative. It always thrills and amazes me how people develop such unusual ways to use these things! So I thought I'd share some of my favourites here today. If you're new to the app too (unless I'm literally the very last one to the party) then you may find these accounts worth a follow for something a little more intriguing than the usual. Oh and don't forget to add me! I'll be sure to follow back, it'll be nice to find some fellow bloggers out there to connect with. Find me on username: whatnowblog

 

THREE SUPER CREATIVE SNAPCHATTERS!

1. Mike Platco @mplatco

Mike Platco is a Boston based Snapchat influencer and professional Snapchat artist who creates personal snappy artwork as well as work for well known brands. When a snap or mini video comes through from Mike I watch immediately because they always make me smile, are creative and quite often involve his dog. So ticks all round from me!

2. Dasha Battelle @Dabttll

Dash Battelle is another Snapchat artist whose creations are really very beautiful. All the more impressive given that they are all created purely with her phone and finger! No stylus used here. New York based, Dasha's creations are intricate and beautiful and it's always fun to see them when they pop up on the app. Oh and she happens to work for Snapchat too so expect fun behind the scenes footage of what she gets up to day to day.

3. Geeohsnap @geeohsnap

This is such a cool account! Geeohsnap is the account of a Norwegian Snapchat artist who snaps people he walks by in the street and uses Snapchat art to create unique creative stories and place them into random and elaborate environments. So someone sitting on a fence minding their own business suddenly looks as if they're rocketing off to the moon! That sort of thing. This aptly titled 'Random People Project' went viral in 2014 and has earned its creator a huge and well deserved following. The last few days have seen some brilliant Halloween creations that have really made me smile! 

 

If you're new to the app, are thinking of downloading it, and you end up, like me, getting stuck at the first hurdle i.e. how to even use it, then this post from Mashable will come in very handy. It helped me and I hope it helps you too! The Beginner's Guide To Snapchat.

What do you think of this app? Do you use it and who do you like to follow? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Louise

 


What Is Periscope And Who's Worth Tuning In To?

These days there seems to be another new addition to the world of social media on an almost daily basis. It can be hard to know whether or not each new platform is worth getting involved in, and investing any of your time into.

Periscope is one such app that has been causing quite a stir since its launch in late March this year. The live video streaming app from Twitter hit 1 million users in its first 10 days, with 10 million people creating an account to date (although not necessarily using it!) and over 2 million active users tuning in and live streaming on a daily basis. So it would seem that we can't quite get enough of this particular newbie and that for now, it's very much here to stay. 

 Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Being owned by Twitter means you can sign into Periscope easily via your Twitter account and immediately begin live streaming your own content or tuning into the live feeds of pretty much anyone else online around the world. Users are reportedly watching up to 40 years worth of live video every single day! 

It's kind of like Google Hangouts but ultimately much easier to use. The app enables users to log on quickly and easily on the go and stream anything and everything, from their mundane walk to work to an exciting insight and front row seat at an event that we might all be wishing we are at. People are using Periscope for business, to connect with their followers instantly and answer questions face to face and to stream breaking news on the spot as and when it happens. The scope of this application is huge and likely to continue to grow.

Viewers tuning into a scope can ask the broadcaster questions instantly, live, and offer up hearts (or bats this month if you use #Halloween in your title!) if they like what they see. The fact that it's connected to Twitter makes it quicker than usual to build your followers and let people know when you're about to scope. Videos remain live on Periscope for 24 hours after their initial broadcast. So if you're unable to tune in live, you can catch your favourite broadcaster later in the day and still tune in to what they had to share or say that day.

It's important to note that live streaming, especially on the go, is not without its downsides. Personal safety and security is the first thing that comes to mind, and live streaming your walk to work might seem like a harmless thing to do, but exercising caution to keep yourself safe should still be very much at the forefront of your mind. Unfortunately as with all these things you will get exposed to the online haters. I've watched some broadcasts where people have tuned in purely to make nasty comments and that's not nice to experience, especially live. Broadcasters can block such users, but this remains an application that should be used wisely and with some aforethought.

Warnings aside I've really been enjoying using this app and although I haven't ventured into streaming live content myself, have found some really useful and interesting people to watch. So I thought today I'd share my top picks for those of you considering tuning into other peoples scopes for some business, blogging and lifestyle ideas and inspiration. 

 

TOP LIVE FIVE WORTH A WATCH ON PERISCOPE!

1. KIM GARST @KimGarst

Kim Garst is a super social media expert! She shares her wealth of expertise and tips in her daily ScopingForBiz broadcasts on Periscope. Many of these are based on using Periscope as a marketing tool but often I will catch other extremely interesting tutorials on how to best utilise other social media platforms too. Her recent scope on how to get the most out of Facebook on zero budget was one of my faves and was incredibly useful.

2. ALEX PETTITT @alexpettitt

Alex Pettitt is ranked as the number one Periscope user in the UK and number three overall in Europe. If you really want to see Periscope used to its full potential and learn more about it, then tuning in to Alex will serve you very well. He shares many 'behind the scenes' mini broadcasts and effectively demonstrates the power of Periscope as a tool for instantly communicating and sharing with your audience.

3. LONDON BEAUTY QUEEN @LBQblog

I've read Hayley's award winning beauty blog for a long time now but I've also really enjoyed watching her broadcasts on Periscope. Whilst she does scope about what's new in beauty, Hayley also regularly broadcasts about blogging topics that people like me really need to learn and know about, plus she's not afraid to speak her mind and be open and candid with her audience.

Some recent useful scopes have included an explanation of the updated ASA disclosure regulations for bloggers which was incredibly helpful as well as tips on how to work with brands and PR's when putting together sponsored content. Plus she's always open to questions and helping out fellow bloggers whenever and wherever she can.

4. GLOBAL PERISCOPE @GlobalPeriscope

A curated live feed of some of the best scopes from around the world. Tune in to feast on anything and everything from beautiful sunsets, street art and other very watchable live escapism from around the world.

5. EVE MAYER @LinkedInQueen

Eve Mayer is the CEO of Social Media Delivered and in her weekly scopes she presents very useful social media tips, tricks and updates that come in handy for anyone looking to grow their business and online presence.

 

Do you use Periscope? What are your thoughts on this platform and who do enjoy watching for tips and tricks to enhance your daily working life?

Louise