I once read that when a colleague of Einstein’s asked him for his telephone number, Einstein reached for a telephone directory and looked it up. “You don’t remember your own number?” the man asked, startled. “No”, Einstein answered. “Why should I memorize something I can so easily get from a book?”
I decided to adopt this philosophy (not that I’m comparing myself to Einstein) but… I find it invaluable, to have key tools besides my memory to rely on! Just recently I was having a conversation with several Event Planners about some of our favorite tools, and I learned, that many of them are still using excel spreadsheets exclusively for their project plans.
I wanted to share a few great sites that I find immensely helpful and have learned to love. I hope that you will become as infatuated with them, as I am!
SmartSheet.com is a very user-friendly site, and it is ideal when a lot of people or departments are involved in a project or event. You start by creating the overall plan, assigning goals to key people or departments, and entering date ranges for everyone to stay on task and on schedule. SmartSheet.com allows you to share the spreadsheet with others and everyone will have the ability to make live edits to the document. This way the key administrator receives regular updates about the assigned responsibilities of each person involved in the project. My favorite part…? It also allows you to schedule notifications (to be sent to appropriate parties) based on deadlines, so you don’t have to repeatedly ask the same question… e.g. how is your team coming along with the PR plan and when do you expect it to be completed? Team members can also share their progress, goal dates, and issues with the team immediately. Smartsheet is web based, which means it’s easily accessible. I use this tool a lot and it has helped me to really stay on top of deadlines. It also helps me manage more efficiently.
Fresh Books is another great tool. Fresh Books, as their website says is “painless billing”. I use Fresh Books because it allows me to track hours of each project whether they are billable hours or not. It allows me to keep track of time spent on the project and differentiate who is doing what, and at which rate. Also if there is a fixed amount of hours assigned to a project, Fresh Books automatically generates a notification to me, if we are getting close to that set amount. This allows everyone to better distribute our time, and save money. It’s also possible to send invoices and updates directly to your clients.
On a personal level, I’ve become a fan of Mint.com. This site allows you to monitor multiple bank accounts, stay on budget, track expenses and it sends you a reminder when certain bills are due. If you want to create a financial goal, you can input the information so you can track your progress.
Times have definitely changed, and so have the tools, that are available to us today – I don’t have a phone book any more, but who needs one?
Do you know of any other tools that have been a great help to you?