6 Useful Productivity Apps For Freelancers and Busy Professionals
September 5, 2017
We get bombarded with data every day. This could be in the form of email you receive, feed update you see on Facebook, or videos you watch on Youtube.
In this era of witnessing rapidly expanding data around you, it’s getting hard to be focused on the work at hand and be productive in what you do.
So let’s turn to the same technology that is making us distracted to try and be productive in our daily lives.
There are thousands of apps, websites, and browser extensions that can help you save time every day, I am listing the ones that I use frequently and have found to be really useful in being productive.
Google Apps is a powerful suite of apps that you can use in managing work and data. It includes:
- Google Drive – You can save files to Google Drive and then access it from anywhere. It acts just like your hard drive but since it’s a cloud drive, you can access it even when you’re traveling or don’t have access to your personal/work computer.
- Google Docs (Sheets, Docs, Slides) – Google Docs are really useful if you work with data and presentations and want to be able to access these from anywhere. With Google Sheets, you can easily record and analyze data. It comes with hundreds of formulas and other functionalities. Google Docs is a great tool if you need to take notes or prepare reports. Google Slides allows you to quickly create slides and share it with anyone instantly.
- Gmail: While Gmail is available for free for personal use, if you’re a small business or a freelancer, you can use your own domain to get a personalized email id. This allows you to use the familiar Gmail interface, while still looking more professional in your communication.
Asana is a great project management tool.
It works well for people who work from remote locations but still needs to coordinate with their team.
Using Asana, you can plan and organize your projects. It syncs in real time that makes it perfect for dispersed teams. You can also assign a specific task to a specific team member and he gets notified of the new task. This allows delegating and managing tasks extremely efficient.
Evernote is a note-taking app that you can easily use with your phone or tablet.
No matter where you are, you can easily note an idea, thought, or even an entire article using this app. You can also record your ideas and play it when you want to go through it later.
The best part is that all these notes are saved in the cloud. So you can access these from anywhere with an internet connection.
If your work involves creating snapshots, Snagit can save hours of your time.
It’s especially recommended for people who have to show a step by step process (for example if you’re a teacher then you can take images and explain it further using arrows, highlights, and notes). I often use it for clients when I need to document processes.
Pomodoro is a technique that emphasizes on working in the batches of 25 minutes, followed by small breaks of 5-10 minutes.
It works great as it requires you to concentrate on the work at hand and do it for at least 25 minutes. In these 25 minutes, you have to ignore everything (social media alerts, emails, phone calls, etc.).
You can get a free Pomodoro app on your phone or tablet, or can also use free online Pomodoro timers (just google ‘Pomodoro timer’ and you will find some good ones).
No matter what you do, writing is an essential part of it. Be it blog posts, articles, emails, proposals, you need to make sure your writing is error-free, impactful and professional.
ProwritingAid is a writers friend as it allows you to assess your written content on several parameters. You can instantly generate reports to check your grammar, readability, writing style, stickiness, etc.
These reports allow you to assess the written content and at the same time, helps you in becoming a better writer.
You can read a well written ProwritingAid review here.
5 Excel Functions that will make you a data wizard
August 18, 2017
Excel has a lot of features and functionalities that make it a very competitive business intelligence tool.
One thing that makes Excel stand out is its wide variety of Excel functions (while I must admit I am also pretty impressed with what Google Sheets has to offer in terms of functions).
There are close to 450 functions in Excel and there seems to be one for everything.
Now don’t worry about not knowing all these functions. You are never going to need more than a handful of these Excel functions. And most of these function are well covered online and you can find many useful online Excel training to make you proficient in it.
Here are my favorite five Excel functions that would help anyone working with data in Excel.
#1 IF Function
If is a basic formula that checks for a condition and returns a specified value when it’s met. For example, suppose you have a long list of numbers and you have to check whether it is greater than 50 or not.
You can easily do this using the IF function. Here is the syntax:
=IF(A1>50, “Yes”, “No”)
Here A1 has the value and the function checks whether the value is greater than 50 or not. If it is, then it returns Yes, else it returns No.
The power of IF function lies in the fact that you can use multiple IF functions within the IF function itself. This is called nested IFs.
#2 VLOOKUP Function
VLOOKUP function is highly popular Excel function that helps you look through an entire column and fetch the matching value from the specified column.
The V in the VOOKUP stands for vertical as it goes down the vertical column and looks for the specified value. There is also the HLOOKUP function, but VLOOKUP is the one you should focus on, to begin with.
#3 SUMIF Function
There is a basic SUM function in Excel that would simply add all the numbers in the specified range. SUMIF takes it a step further allows the user to add the values based on a certain condition.
For example, if you want to add all the sales value for a sales rep named Paul, then you can do that by specifying it as the condition.
#4 MIN/MAX Functions
MIN/MAX functions – as the name suggests – would find the maximum or the minimum value from a given range. These are really helpful when you want to find out the outliers in your data set.
#5 COUNTIF Function
COUNTIF function is similar to SUMIF. It counts the values in a given range when the specified condition is met. For example, if I want to find out how many times did Paul made a sale, I can specify the condition to be Paul and then count the total number of occurrences.
These are my top five Excel functions. It’s something that I use on a daily basis. This is no way enough to get the work done and sooner or later you will have to learn some other awesome functions as well, however, this should be a good starting point if you’re a beginner in Excel.
7 Skills That Can Land You a High Paying Jobs
August 17, 2017
Everyone wants to climb up a few rungs of the career ladder and earn a bit more money. But it can be difficult to know what exactly employers are looking for in order to land you that highly paid job of your dreams.
I have been working in a 9 to 5 job (happily I must add) and in this article, I am listing the skills that I believe are important in helping you land a high paying job.
Now the list is definitely not exhaustive, but in my experience, these are useful skills whether you work in the sales department or in a zoo.
Communication is one of the most important skills that employers are looking for.
Now communication takes a whole new shape when you aspire to enter the corporate world. There are written and unwritten rules you need to know and abide by.
In a higher paid job you will need to be able to communicate with your peers, with those that you manage, and with those above you in order to make sure that each and every part of the business is running smoothly.
Communication can be face to face, via phone, emails or conference calls/chats. Often, you will get a limited time to put forward your point, and the skill to structure your communication make or break the deal.
We live our lives on the internet and on our phones and produce more data than you can shake a stick at.
This can leave businesses struggling to cope with and analyse the vast amount of data they’re left with. If you have a head for understanding complicated data, then you can expect to earn more and get higher paid jobs, as analytical skills are useful in all areas of business.
If you can track, build, and analyse data then make sure that you advertise this to your potential employers, because it is a valuable skill in many areas of a company, and data specialists are highly sought after.
While analytics is a broad term for a skill, you can start with mastering simple tools such as R, Excel, or Tableau.
Presentation skills are one of the most important skills that employers are looking for, as presentation skills show confidence and a comfortability of public speaking. Presentation skills mean that you can present to clients and potential clients in a way that will convince them to work with the business, but you can also hold yourself in a respectful manner, and this is highly revered by potential employers who want to bring in more business.
Presentation skills mean that you can present to clients and potential clients in a way that will convince them to work with the business.
An important skill here is to work with PowerPoint. It amazes me how this single software has completely changed the way businesses work. We are all so used to PowerPoint that it has become synonymous to presentations in the corporate world.
4. Project Management
Project management skills allow you to show that you can take on larger projects, plan them, and manage your time properly in order to get the job finished in time, and finished to a high standard.
Project management opens up doors to a huge range of managerial roles, as it shows employers your ability to organise and manage yourself in order to fulfil the requirements of a project properly to satisfy clients and bosses.
5. Technical Skills
If you can get your head around new technology then you have a major advantage over a lot of people who are competing for the job that you want.
For example, if the new world demands node JS and you’re stuck with PHP, you may struggle to get hired in the new world. My point here is that you should be proficient in the technology in your space.
Your employer will value technical skills that are applicable to the job, but will also favour those who can grow and develop with new technology as it emerges. This gives the businesses an edge on the competition if they can get their business onto the newest technology as fast as possible, so make sure to mention any technological skills or qualifications that you possess to really impress potential employers.
One good thing about technical skills is their diversity so as long as your prospective employer can spot any such skills in you, the job you are interviewing for will be as good as yours.
Multitasking is another ability that is held in very high esteem by any potential employer, especially for bigger and higher paid jobs.
These jobs typically have a lot of responsibilities attached to them, and if you want to succeed you need to be able to do several things at once and keep on top of it all.
If you can show employers that you have had to organise several jobs at the same time then you are much more likely to gain the higher job roles.
7. Teaching and Mentoring
Companies love people who can teach and transfer their skills to other members of the work team.
If you can teach others about the skills that you possess then you are much more valuable to a potential employer, as employers love to develop their workforce in order to create a more productive team of staff by using their own workforce, rather than external companies to teach new skills.
The current job market is constantly changing, and it is never easy to know what exactly employers are looking for in order to tick all of the boxes that potential employers are looking for. We hope that this list has helped you to better understand the key areas that employers are looking for a candidate to fill, as this will make it much more likely for you to win the job of your dreams.