The tech team, a.k.a., the people who are always one step ahead of you when it comes to new apps, sites, and extensions. Or, I should say, the people who were one step ahead of you. After you check out this article on tools that they’re regularly using, you’ll feel like an insider, too.
But, before you dig in, know these aren’t just three random things that techies are currently utilizing. They’re specifically designed to make automating and streamlining tasks a whole lot easier. And that means you can get more work done than ever!
I heard that groan. So I’ll tell you what it also means: You’ll have time to sneak out a little bit earlier a few nights this summer and enjoy some of this beautiful, beautiful sunshine.
1. Gmail Labs
If you’re like many of us on this fine planet, you currently use Gmail to get through your day. But, I bet you didn’t know that you can play mad scientist with it. And no, I’m not talking about creating a Frankenstein-like mash-up between your pharmacy spam and that weekly accounting report, I’m talking about Gmail Labs.
Gmail Labs are special settings that add helpful features to your email. You can get started by going into your account, clicking the gear icon, then “Settings,” then a tab on the right called “Labs.” There you’ll find what you need to transform your email into a more manageable creature.
There are several to choose from, but I suggest starting with a few of my favorites.
How many times have you noticed you forgot to attach a file or worse, made a typo, just two seconds after clicking send? With Undo Send, you can stop that message from going out, saving yourself embarrassment and time spent sending along a follow-up email that says, “Now this time, with the attachment attached, lol.”
Do you find yourself answering the same emails over and over again? Save time (and your wrists) by not re-typing repetitive messages. Instead, build yourself a bank of standard responses that you can send out whenever needed.
Unread Message Icon
Sometimes you’re waiting for an important email to come in, but for one reason or another, you don’t have time to keep opening up your inbox. With the Unread Message Icon, you can just glance at your Gmail browser tab and quickly see when it hits your inbox.
IFTTT, short for “If This, Then That,” is a simple, but surprisingly powerful, automation tool that combines your favorite online services. Once you sign up for a free account, you can start creating recipes. Or as I call it, magic!
And creating recipes is a breeze. Just choose the cause (the “if”) and the result you want (the “that”). For example, I want to make sure that I remember to return any calls I miss while I’m in meetings. So, one of my IFTTT recipes is: If I miss a phone call, add it to my to-do list. That means I don’t have to worry any more that I’ll forget to check my missed calls—because there’s a reminder ready and waiting for me in my task manager.
What else can you do with IFTTT? That’s somewhat up to your imagination. It currently lets you connect a fantastic number of online services, from Gmail to Slack to DropBox to Evernote, plus dozens and dozens more.
3. Workflow or Llama
Just because you’re at work doesn’t mean you should forget your phone as an automation tool. In fact, automating tasks on your phone can be one of the best ways to make your work life easier, especially if you’re often away from your desk.
Workflow is a relative newcomer for iOS that’s knocking the socks off of iPhone users around the world. It lets you easily combine functions or apps on your phone in a certain order. Combining them makes it possible to do manual things automatically.
Clever Workflow actions that you can set up once, and then use over and over, include turning a web page into a PDF, sending a message with your arrival time based on your current location, or reading text aloud to you.
Jealous of iPhone owners right now? Don’t be.
Llama for Android has been around for years, yet it’s flown under the radar. It also lets you work some magic on your phone with just a little minor set-up. You can have your phone silenced whenever you have a meeting scheduled on your calendar, instantly connect to your office Wi-Fi when you get to work, or pop up a reminder to stand and stretch once an hour.
All of these tools are easy to use, and they really can make a big dent in your daily to-do list. So, stop wasting your time doing needless work, and start using these to get finished with your work faster.