There are a lot of collaborative digital tools out there. So many, indeed, that Tyler and I once spent a week researching and testing different ones to see which we liked best. Safe to say, we know just how much time can be spent thinking about what tools may work best within a company’s culture.
After a lot of experimenting, we found that the combination of Asana, Pocket, Sidekick, Hangouts and Google Drive works best for us. Here’s why we choose them and how we use them:
Emails take up too much time. Asana was created for collaboration without email, which is exactly what it accomplishes. You may have noticed that we didn’t list any email orientated digital tools above. Gmail isn’t listed because we don’t use it internally, Asana completely replaces it (excluding chat.)
Asana eliminates email by combining tasks, conversations, due dates, calendars and milestones into one slick product. The reason we think Asana works so well is that it hinges around tasks or action items. This task concentration contrasts the ambiguity of emails which are saturated with useless information and verbiage. Moreover, the process of generating an email is comparatively a lot more time consuming than generating a task in asana. To put it simply, then, Asana makes project driven communication faster and more effective by cutting out all of the otiose aspects of emails.
The tool also allows users to attach files, set deadlines, comment on the tasks, like an action, add sub-tasks, and mark the tasks complete, giving you all the necessary components to collaborate without any unnecessary frill.
Asana was originally built internally at Facebook by co-founders Justin Rosenstein and Dustin Moskovitz. Moskovitz was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate and the first CTO of Facebook. Rosenstein, a former Googler, had been working on an internal collaboration at Google before moving onto Facebook. At Facebook, the two tech stars put their heads together to design the original framework for the social network. In 2008, they decided to spin-off the company and give to businesses of all shapes and sizes. In November of 2011, Asana officially launched out of its beta.
Now the software is used by Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest and Uber amongs thousands of others. Even more, it’s free for up to 15 users, so you can give it a whirl without putting any cash down.
Pocket is simply great. We read a lot of articles at F&F and Pocket completely changes the way you read, store, and share articles online. Pocket allows you to store articles and access them, ad-free, on any device as well as easily share the articles with friends.
For us, we use Pocket as a way to read articles on the go without having to go to a bunch of different websites as well as simply storing all the articles we like for easy access later.
Pocket, originally called Read it Later, was started by Nate Weiner in 2007. After getting millions of users, he moved the company to Silicon Valley, got venture funding and rebranded it to pocket. So far the changes seem to be working as the company has received millions in backing and has 12 million users.
Sidekick gives you a notification when someone opens your email and tells you what device the email was opened on. That’s it. The simple app is extremely useful, when emailing clients, because it lets you know if your emails are being ignored, forwarded on to many people or being opened right away.
Sidekick is a Hubspot app. Hubspot is the leading company in inbound marketing, offering a suite of various marketing and sales software. Sidekick is offered for free as an inbound strategy from the company that literally wrote the book on it. Hubspot get you to their website to download the app, gets your email and thereby, has you in the top of their sales funnel.
The only problem we have with Asana is that it doesn’t have a robust chat feature. So, we use hangouts for all of messaging. Hangouts is embedded into gmail, making it incredibly convenient and it has apps for all the major mobile devices.
Hangouts is a free Google product that was originally launched in May of 2013 as a consolidation of Google’s enterprise and free messaging tools.
5. Google Drive
Google drive should probably be listed as second on this list, but its nearly ubiquitous, so we thought it would be a boring number 2. Boring or not, Google Drive is integral for being able to work collaboratively. The ability to share folders allows us to share all the files we are working on in the cloud, and access them anywhere.
To sum up, internally, all tasks are put through Asana, their files are stored in Drive, and their immediate conversations are executed in Hangouts. That’s how we do everything, it’s simple and it’s fast.