Tools for planning & managing
We’ve always relied on online tools and systems to manage projects, both internally and with clients. Covid may have forced us to use them in lieu of everything – no meetings, travelling, no site visits or pitching – but even when those things again become practical and desirable, these tools will still be in place, still be there to allow distributed teams and faraway clients to be on the same page.
Way back when we used Basecamp and we quickly outgrew that, more than a decade before they decided to blow-up in public. We used Podio for years, but felt a bit out of place when they were acquired by Citrix. Next was Wrike, which we liked, but it still felt too rigid, as did Asana, and Trello was cute ‘n all, but just too, well, un-serious.
After a short-time using Breeze (not often mentioned but reliable and with hidden depths), we’ve been settled on ClickUp for quite a while now, even though, cough, one-of-us is always fiddling with some other tool. But no, we’ll stay with ClickUp, even though we’d really rather they didn’t claim to be ‘One App to replace them all’.
All of the above are tools for Project Management and Task Management, and they’ve all been heavily used over the years. We tried one – Ryver – that tried to bring chat into the stream, something that we’d very much missed in all tools we’d tried. But it didn’t quite work, and we’re still using chat in standalone channels. As are most teams, it seems. So, how to communicate when your team is dispersed and your clients can’t be visited?
Tools for communicating
Slack. That’s all you need. Slack. Just use Slack.
We did, and we still do – but it gets expensive once you go beyond 10,000 messages, which you will do, quickly, and it also can get expensive when it comes to bringing in clients as guests. It integrates well with other apps and systems, it’s reliable, it’s very good. But it’s also very noisy and very demanding – see ‘How Slack ruined work‘. But all messaging apps are, so, you know, hardly fair to blame Slack, they just moved more people away from email and into ‘talk to me now‘ than anything else had done. In passing … email, on mobile, multiple accounts, as quiet or as noisy as you prefer – look at Spark.
We currently chat in Microsoft Teams because we need to have Microsoft products, even though we nearly all prefer to use Linux for daily lifting. As a chat client, it’s not Slack, but it does the job. We reluctantly also use WhatsApp, and more happily use Signal.
For voice, we use VOIP lines (Sipgate) on softphones and VOIP hardware (Obihai). We’ve setup offices-in-a-time-of-Covid teams on Sipgate, and will doubtlessly be using Yay to do the same in the near future.
Tools for remembering
And then there’s the Second Brains. Pen and paper, notebook, diary, scribbled notes, post-its … the random thoughts, the ‘look again’, the wide-awake-at-dawn inspirations … where to put them, how not to forget them?
You could stay forever young and just not forget anything, or you could look at a ‘tool for thought’. Most of them appear to be personal journals with bells on (because they are), but they can be shared, and they can be great
Roam Research started it all, Athens may just have jumped on the bandwagon, Obsidian has many fans, and Logseq is catching up fast (we use it because it’s local-first and uses plain old Markdown). Tools for networked thought, knowledge graphs, spaced-repetition, outlining – get used to a whole new dictionary, but also give them a try. As a place to dump, link and surface knowledge and thoughts, they are very, very useful.
And, underpinning it all for some time now, Notion. It’s where we write our manuals, our how-tos, it’s where anything that isn’t a snippet or a task (though even those are likely heading Notion’s way) goes to live. And be manipulated, and updated, and linked, and made-public to clients if needs be. It really is very good and it does feel like coming-home in terms of managing information.