Sent to you by Vachak via Google Reader:
via Dumb Little Man - Tips for Life by Abhijeet Mukherjee on 9/18/08
As a web worker, I rely on many desktop and web tools everyday to get my work done. These tools have helped me in my profession as someone working from the internet and also helped me to get the work done efficiently and productively.
If we start talking about the tools which we should use, it could probably turn out to be an unending debate considering that there are a huge number of tools for every task, with both paid and their open source free alternatives being available. So lets talk about five essential set of tools which probably are a must-have for every web worker irrespective of what work he does on the web. Of course there would be many more job specific tools which he might need to use but these set of tools form the base for every work.
Writing And Editing
Whenever we talk about web working, writing is the first thing which comes to our mind. Not all web workers are writers, however writing is something which is associated directly or indirectly with almost every line of web related work. Especially after the huge growth of blogosphere, blogs have now become the main source for getting attention and exposure and we can find almost everyone, ranging from designers and internet marketers writing on their blogs. And gone are the days when Microsoft Word used to be the only tool for writers. Today we have many good online and offline tools which can help you in writing, editing and creating great blog posts.
Google Docs and Zoho Docs are good online tools to get some writing done. Most of the blogging platforms have their default editors and those who like to play with desktop blog editors Windows Live Writer for Windows and Ecto for Mac are cool tools. If you love simplicity then tools like DarkRoom are made for you. And yes, Microsoft Office and Open Office are still very much used by writers.
To write and edit, you need to do research first and take relevant notes. Evernote, which has both online and desktop versions, does this job brilliantly. You can even capture text and images with its web clipper. And to edit those images, you could go for simple tools like Irfanview for desktop and online tools like Picnik. However, if you really need a robust image editor then Photoshop is the ultimate tool.
Storage And Synchronization
You deal with data everyday. And it's very important to take care of it. Computer is a machine and it is as vulnerable as any other machine. Your hard drive can die any day without warning you and if you don't have a backup, you could lose important data which could later mean that you got to shell out good money to get it recovered from the damaged hard drive.
Hence be wise and backup everyday. Use an external hard drive for the purpose. I personally use the Western Digital MyBook which comes with a 500GB storage space. It has proved to be good so far. There are many other alternatives too. Also, if your data is very crucial, I recommend you to sign up with online backup services like Mozy. That way you can be rest assured that if your external hard drive gives up for some reason or if it's stolen, there is a backup at another location too.
There are many backup and synchronization tools available which make the entire process of backing up effortless for you. One such tool is AceBackup for windows. It gives you various backup options and it's free too. If you want to go for paid ones, there are better alternatives available. To sync data between two locations, like your computer and external hard drive, you can use Microsoft Synctoy for windows which is freely available. If there are Mac users reading this, I'd like to know from them what tools they use to backup and sync stuff.
Organizing your work as a web worker is important too. If you are good at manually keeping track of your tasks using a simple moleskine notebook then that's good but if you want a paperless environment and organize your work on the computer itself then Essential PIM for desktop and Google Calendar or in fact Remember the Milk which is a cool online to-do list management app, could help you.
There are again many tools for keeping track of your time. One of the good free options available is Toggl which can help you to track your time while working on projects.
For communication, apart from the basic telephone, I think email and Skype are the best bet. And when it comes to email, Gmail is undoubtedly the king. With host of features and the ease of use, it's easily the preferred email tool for web workers. Some of us also like to maintain a desktop tool for checking the emails. They can easily set up Gmail's IMAP feature with Outlook and Thunderbird and read and reply to emails from desktop.
You won't get paid if you don't invoice your clients. And doing all of that manually when you are working on many projects could be a real pain. Hence a good invoicing tool can always help. I personally use Paypal's inbuilt invoicing tool which lets me create an invoice esily and also save the invoice templates for future use.
FreshBooks and Zoho Invoice are two other good alternatives for invoice and payment management.
I'd love to hear from you about the tools which you use as a web worker and the ones which make you more productive everyday.