Online Tools to Work Smarter Not Harder

online tools

Ashley Demshki shares online tools surrounding time management and organization to get you and your team working smarter, not harder.

I love innovation and trying new things, especially when it comes to my marketing strategy. If not, I always feel like I am stuck in a wheel doing the same thing day in and day out. Where is the fun in that?

Regardless of if you’re like me or prefer to stick to your ways, I know there is one thing we can all agree on: working smarter not harder. For me, that comes down to time management and organization.

Here are my top three tips for how to work smarter not harder:

1. Utilize Online Tools for Organization

Paper calendars aren’t cutting it these days, especially with a remote workforce. Invest in — or try out some for free — online tools that keep you and your team organized.

Online Tool: Asana

Personally, I love Asana and the ease of creating multiple “teams” and “project workbooks” to keep tasks in order. To provide a quick overview, Asana allows you to add team members to specific projects and within those projects you can assign tasks, add notes, upload files, and approve items all in one place. With multiple team members not all needing to work together or be in the same project workbook, it’s easy to create different projects and customize the fields to your needs.

For example, I love using the Asana calendar view for drafting our social media calendar. I can highlight fields as different platforms, assign approved copy to student-staff to schedule or make direct comments/suggestions for edits to the post. With the calendar view, we are able to efficiently draft out posts in advance and keep track of important dates, holidays and university events without skipping a beat.

Online Tool: Airtable

Not ready for something that robust? Check out Airtable. Airtable allows you to customize your workbook similarly to Asana but with the free version you don’t get as many bells and whistles. Thankfully there are still some pretty cool features like field customization, color coding, ability to tag teammates in comments and even upload JPG and MOV files. The only downside is storage space. Too many files within the workbook or too many workbooks leads to a prompt of upgrading to the pro version for more space. If you’re someone that is just getting started and don’t need to upload a large amount of files, this might be the perfect place to start.

Online Tool: Dropbox and Google Drive

Lastly, taking advantage of storage sites like Dropbox and Google Drive, which are perfect places to organize and transfer large files between team members.

We utilize Google Drive so that sending each other large media files, like video blogs and animated graphics, takes less time and is easily accessible. Through organization of folders, we are all able to move files from one place to another — for example, from a draft folder to an approved folder — and even create folders to share with colleagues outside our marketing team to upload their content for us to use. This is convenient for everyone, allows for easy sharing of folders and keeps files all in one place.

If your university’s email system is set up through Google, you might have a great advantage in unlimited drive storage.

2. Keeping Everyone on a Schedule

Working smarter means knowing when your team is available, online and ready to collaborate. Creating a system that allows you to know that is a great place to start.

There are a couple online tools that can help:

Online Tool: WhenToWork

WhenToWork allows my student-staff to input their availability, block off when they have class, create a work schedule for the quarter and trade shifts with each other. When managing more than one student, this website comes in handy and allows you to view when shifts overlap to easily schedule team meetings and team projects. This site also allows you to input team members’ phone numbers and email addresses. This is really convenient when trying to contact remote members — no more searching around for their contact information. It is all easily in one place.

Online Tool: Google Calendar

Another easy tool? Google Calendar. Sync up a work calendar with your teams’ schedules. This way, you know when your students are in the office. With Google, you can even create different calendars for different people.

For example, maybe you just need a calendar that shows when your students are physically in the office versus when they are working on marketing pieces around the center or on campus. Keeping a schedule gives you the flexibility and ability to reach your team when needed without creating more work for yourself.

3. Reusing Content

With so many digital platforms, it is not crazy to reuse content.

When filming for YouTube, capture a few minutes of footage vertically to use for TikTok or Instagram. This is a great way to not only cross promote your platforms but also share similar, relevant information without having to brainstorm a new idea or organize a new set up. A lot of footage can also be edited in post production by taking a wider shot and cropping it to fit vertical dimensions using tools like Adobe Rush or Premiere Pro.

EXTRA CREDIT: Drexel University got extra creative with its marketing and created a music video, “Life Happens Within These Walls.” It showcases that the rec center has much more to offer than just exercise.

Not only does reusing content give you the freedom to focus more time and energy on new projects, but it also creates a consistent brand voice across all platforms. Shortening footage from a long form video to a teaser clip and changing the post caption makes a huge difference in terms of messaging while keeping brand consistency.

At the end of the day, finding what works best for your team might take some trial and error. With the fundamental framework of organization and time management, you’re already going to be leaps and bounds ahead of the game so you can focus on other priorities.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Ashley Demshki
Ashley Demshki serves as the outreach coordinator at the University of California, Riverside Recreation Department. Ashley received her B.A. in public relations and advertising from Chapman University in Orange, California. She began her career in the fashion industry, working on editorial and ecommerce shoots. Moving to focus on public relations, Ashley worked with numerous nonprofit and government agencies to help empower community organizations and the members they serve. She is passionate about student development and how recreation contributes to academic, physical and social success.

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