A manager has to do lots of routine tasks: to set something up with several tabs open, have calls with multiple clients a day, send credentials, change the text in an email copy, take a screenshot for a client, and so on.
If I learn that I can do some things easier and faster, I always jump at this opportunity. Some tools stay with me forever and help me save time and energy. I've managed to collect a list of useful tools that will come in handy not only for customer managers, but also for editors, product managers, coders, and many others. I hope you'll find some of them useful too.
Note that I use Windows 10 and prefer Google Chrome.
6 Tools to Step Up Your Management Game
1. ShareX for Taking Screenshots
I believe that attaching screenshots to an email or bug report is rather outdated and inconvenient. Sometimes you need to place the link to an image in a particular part of the copy. That's why screenshot services appeared.
Unfortunately, a free screenshot app often means two or more ads around your image, so you have to buy a paid version to hide them. Of course, my adblocker hides most of the banners, but the receiver might not have this browser extension, so it will be hard for them to find my screenshot among all these images. Also, I feel uncomfortable about sending this to the client.
ShareX is free and has all the necessary features: you can add captions, enclose something in a circle, draw arrows (I just adore curved arrows), index your actions, blur or wipe out a part of a screenshot, and even zoom the image (I've just found this feature). Also, when you capture an image, the app offers several areas: the whole screen, the whole window, and the content of the window, so you don't have to move your mouse pixel by pixel.
But if you still need to do it pixel by pixel, you can move the cursor with arrow buttons, so it's easier to take screenshots for articles — for instance, when it's important to set the margins of the image correctly. It's cool that this tool can upload screenshots anywhere. As for me, I have a folder on my work FTP for it (in our company, we use FTP for the sake of security, and ShareX is one of the few tools that can work with it).
The tool has additional features aside from taking screenshots: a screencast recording feature, image editor, color picker (it allows you to choose any color from the screen), QR code scanner, and generator.
Unlike simple and well-known LightShot, Monosnap, and Joxi, this is a complex app for nerds with a whole lot of features, so, as a nerd, I like it.
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2. MS OneNote for Keeping Notes in Order
I used to work in Notepad++: it's convenient for codes, HTML, and XML files. But I used to have about 30 unnamed tabs open: the notes I made during a call, a part of the email I wrote for our team, or a client's HTML code…
It was really difficult to find what I needed, though I always knew that it was "somewhere out there". OneNote helped me fix this problem: I've sorted my notes, ideas, and documents into categories and folders.
Occasionally I switch back to Notepad++ or a paper notebook — sometimes my "I wanna write my to-do list by hand" mode gets activated, or I need to edit some HTML code (I can't do this in OneNote). Also, I've realized that a new Notepad++ document is something imponderable to me — I don't have to sort it, so it's perfect for short notes that I'm going to send just after a call.
The web version of OneNote is free, but you'll have to pay for the desktop app. However, it's included in MS Office 365, so if you have the subscription, then you already have OneNote.
3. Grammarly for Checking English Texts
I write something in English every day: emails, messages, social media posts, and articles. I'm not a native speaker, so, naturally, I may make mistakes in texts. Grammarly helps improve the situation: it fixes spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, articles, and prepositions. It doesn't make a copywriting guru of me, but it generally improves my texts, teaches me a little, and allows me to bother native English editors less.
Grammarly's killer feature: it checks your spelling not only in its web interface, but also on other websites: in Google Docs, LinkedIn, or your inbox. The extension looks for an opportunity to help the user on every website. A green Grammarly icon in the lower right corner means that you're being checked :)
An annual paid subscription costs $12 a month, and it allows you to check your tone of voice, make your text sound more friendly, simplify the structures, and choose more natural phrasing. The free version of Grammarly is also good, though.
Fun fact: in the free version, Grammarly highlights all the mistakes, but doesn't explain how exactly you should fix advanced suggestions. However, it's easy to understand where I should put a comma or change the tense. That's another way to improve my English :)
4. Toby for Organizing Google Chrome Tabs
By now you must have understood that I use Google Chrome. I just adore it, although it's eating up my system's memory. I'm the kind of person who opens tabs and doesn't close them till I finish the job in each of them.
Toby is another extension I've got in my collection. It makes it possible to create categories for tabs and put tabs into these categories (manually) — this not only frees up my system's memory but also relieves my anxiety. Basically, this kind of storage is similar to bookmarks, only it's for the websites you'll need in a couple of weeks, not years. When you move a tab from the right panel into categories Toby closes it and, as a result, reduces the number of the tabs; the aggregator page is shown when you open a new tab.
I used to use OneTab before Toby — this extension converts all tabs into one list and shows it on one page. But it turns out that categories work better for me. Also, it was both stressful and irrational to remove all tabs with one click of a button — sometimes I needed to open some of those tabs once again. As a result, I used OneTab only six times between January and October 2020.
Having OneTab installed I still had 60–80 open tabs at once in one or two Chrome windows. After using Toby for 30 minutes I cleaned up my list of open tabs (and my mind), sighed with relief, and went to write this article because I just couldn't help but share this discovery. Also, I was surprised to see that I had about 10 tabs opened twice. Recently Chrome introduced a similar feature that helps group and organize tabs. However, by that time, I got to like Toby so much that I didn't want to change anything.
5. Calendly for Quick Call Planning
— Let's discuss the details of our partnership in a call.
— Of course! What time would be the most convenient for you? Perhaps, we might do it today after 5 PM?
— Oh, today I have a really packed schedule. Maybe tomorrow? I have gaps at 12, 4, or 6:30 PM, which one is more convenient for you?
— I'm on a business trip tomorrow, so I won't be able to talk. Let's touch base next week.
Does the dialogue look familiar? Add to this 7 hour time difference, for example. It's unthinkable how many calls, networking events, partnerships, and deals are canceled because people just fail to find the convenient time for both parties (and have no idea about Calendly or similar apps). Even if you manage to schedule a call, it may be difficult to choose a convenient time span quickly.
Calendly is a web app that makes this process easier and quicker. It can be integrated with your conventional calendar (in my case, Google Calendar). You share the link to your Calendly to a person so that they'll see your free slots in their time zone and book a convenient slot with a couple of clicks — later they'll receive an email and an invitation in their calendar.
You should specify:
- when you're available — for example, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 AM till 5 PM;
- the duration of a call — for instance, 30 minutes;
- the meeting place — in my case, it's a link to a Zoom meeting (a life hack: you don't have to integrate the app with Zoom, just make the location custom and add the link);
- a gap between events if necessary. Thus, the calls won't be scheduled one after another — the app will make a pause between them (for instance, 15 minutes).
My calendar is available for two weeks in advance, but you can open yours only for the next day or specify the dates manually.
Calendly has paid plans (the annual plans cost $8 and $12 a month). They allow you to use several event types: for instance, you're available for calls with potential clients from Monday till Thursday and hold free consultations on Friday. These events will have two different booking pages to make it more user-friendly. One more feature of a paid version: you can add several calendars, customize your events and notifications for people you've invited, and share the calendar with a team. However, I'm happy with the free plan.
6. Clipdiary for Clipboard Data Storage
Every day I copy and paste texts, usernames, passwords, links, images, elements of code, and other stuff. I suppose that anyone who works on a computer has to copy and paste lots of things, only the objects differ. Usually, we work with our clipboard data like this: we copy something, paste it, and copy something new — thus, the old data is deleted.
Imagine you need to sign in to some platform, and someone has sent you a link, a username, and a password. Here is what you have to do:
- open the messenger, follow the link, and open a login page in a browser;
- switch to the messenger, copy the username (okay, you can copy it during the first step, but let's admit — we often forget about it);
- switch to the browser and paste the username;
- switch to the messenger and copy the password;
- go back to the browser, paste the password, press the button — and you're logged in.
It takes so long! Okay, maybe not that long, but it's certainly inconvenient, and you just get tired of all these shifting windows.
People invented clipboard managers to simplify this process. I use Clipdiary: it allows me to store and reuse EVERYTHING I copy and paste and save time (also, hotkeys rule!).
Now our username-and-password situation looks like this:
- you open a messenger, follow the link and open a login page in a browser;
- switch back to the messenger, copy the username and the password;
- switch to the browser, press Ctrl+C — insert the username, Alt+Shift+↑ — insert the password, press the button, and you're logged in.
The more copy and paste actions you have a day, the quicker you feel how cool Clipdiary is just because of this feature.
I know that Windows has an internal tool for this now, but I started using Clipdiary 4 or 5 years ago when there was nothing like this. And Clipdiary is still more convenient for me.
Another situation: I needed a list written in English — a long one, with like 20 items and links. I remembered writing and sending it a few months ago, but I didn't remember to whom. I knew where the Russian version of the list was stored, but it had a different formatting, plus I would have to translate it once again. The problem was easily solved: I opened Clipdiary with hotkeys, entered an uncommon word (or a few) from that text, found the copied text, and pasted it — ta-da!
Also, you can store snippets in Clipdiary — these are short texts that you occasionally need. In my case, it stores the copy of my vacation auto-reply, HTML code for preheader, and several templates for standard tasks — now they are always at hand.
Clipdiary's license is based on trust: it's free for independent use; if you use it for work, the developers ask: "Please purchase the license". The lifetime license costs $19,99 — Clipdiary is worth the money. Clipdiary is one of the best tools on my list, so I would support the developers anyway. I highly recommend this app, just try it, and you'll understand.
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