Tools of the Trade, Part 2 – The Software I Depend On

Last week I focused on the “hardware” I use on a regular basis in ministry.  This week I want to focus on the daily productivity software I use to “get the job done.”

Microsoft Office.  Why MS Office?  Well, #1, because our church has put it on all of our machines.  I use Word and Excel every day.  I actually use Google Drive documents as well as Open Office and iWorks on my MacBook Pro, too.  But, only MS Office on my Widows machine has Publisher.  And that’s reason #2.  It certainly is not the best desktop publishing program in the world, but it is what they’ve given us and I’ve found it capable to do most of what I need it to do if I play with it some.  Couldn’t live without it.

GMail.  Our church made the switch to having our email hosted by Google and I couldn’t be happier with the way my email stays synced in Outlook (if I’m in the office), on my phone and tablet, and if I open a browser to go look at my email.  Everything always in sync.  Beautiful.

G-Tasks.  With our switch to Google Apps, I have slowly started walking away from Outlook, using it only fo
r email right now (slowly trying to teach an old dog new tricks).  Google Tasks and the G-Tasks web and device app lets me always keep my to-do list in sync between my desktop, laptop, home computer, phone, tablet, etc.  Couldn’t live without that to-do list and it staying in sync everywhere.

Google Calendars.   Just like the move I made away from Outlook’s tasks, I’ve done the same with calendars. Google’s calendar allows me to keep several calendars all at once and view others. I can also give different levels of access to them to whomever I like. And once again, they all stay in sync everywhere.

Google Reader.  Several years ago I wasted all kinds of time bouncing from website to website, blog to blog to see if there was anything that was of interest to me.  A good friend told me to start using Google Reader to pull in all of the content I was trying to read every day.  What an amazing time saver.  If there’s a blog that I want to see regularly, I subscribe in Google Read and it always gets delivered to me.  I can scan all those blogs every day and if there’s something that interests me, I read it.  I can file it away for later under Google’s labels that allow me to search.  I can stare it to read later.  Now I can get all kinds of great content delivered to me and chose whether or not it is important enough for me to read.  An amazing time saver that allows me to keep learning and growing.

Google Talk.  Google’s instant chat program works great for quick chats back and forth between colleagues, friends, other leaders, and missionaries around the world.

Google Chrome.  I still like Mozilla Firefox but most of my web browsing is done in Chrome.  It is so simple, so fast, so intuitive.  The tabs are great (I know, everyone else is doing it now, too).  I love being able to “pin” tabs so that they always open every time I open the browser.  Another huge time saver.  And you can sync your browser across computers and other Google Chrome browsers.  When I log into Chrome at home, all of my bookmarks from my office PC’s Chrome browser show up there.  Same with my MacBook.  Google is getting even better with the sync, too.  What you have open on one machine will automatically be open when you pop your browser open on your phone, tablet, at home, etc.

Evernote. If you don’t use Evernote, you are missing one of the greatest productivity tools out there.  Think note pad, filing system, web clipper – all wrapped up in one.  It is the best place out there to take notes, copy notes and file notes.  Searching is so simple.  Tagging is equally simple.  You create as many different notebooks as you’d like.  The place your stuff in them.  I keep notebooks in Evernote for IT stuff I do here at the church, my Middle School Ministry, High School Ministry, staff meetings, illustrations, message ideas, quotes, personal stuff.  The potential is endless.  Best part – it’s free . . . at least up to 60MB per month of info uploaded.  You can pay if you want more.  Share our notebooks with family and colleagues.  if you’re not using Evernote, give it a try. You’ll never go back.  Oh yeah, and it syncs to all of your devices, too – apps for iOS, Android, mac, Windows.

Tweetdeck. My Twitter client of choice, it manages all three of my Twitter accounts (this one, my @leadership__101, and our student ministry’s @aucyouth).  There are hosts of twitter clients out there.  A friend got me started on Tweetdeck and it works well for me.

Dropbox. Cloud storage that syncs and couldn’t be easier to use.  I find myself using cloud storage more and more.  Also using Box and Google Drive.  Of all of them, I prefer Dropbox and it’s simplicity.

WordPress. All of my blogs (this one, leadership 101, our student ministry, etc) run through WordPress.  It works well, is simple, has free options, has apps for all of your devices so you can edit from anywhere.  Need a website or just want to blog, WordPress is the simplest way to go.

Next time I’ll discuss some of the software I use for ministry specific tasks.  In the meantime, what software/apps do you use to be more productive that I’m missing?