Schedule Smarter in My Gmail?

Assistant.to
It’s Monday.I already scored in my digital pursuit to make my cloud work life, simpler. When the Marketing Coordinator at Evernote emailed me this morning to schedule a brief chat, I noticed she was scheduling me with  Assistant.to from TryBetty.

Now, if you are like any other professional juggler, hmm, worker, scheduling can be a time drag. Think double bookings, time zones, or just plain misguided guessing.

But if you work at Evernote, you just might have an inside track on something easy. I completed my appointment with Assistant.to in seconds and then immediately headed off for my own trial run.

The verdict: It’s wonderful. Simple. Free.

Who Is This For:

If you use Gmail or Google Apps for Business, you are the target client. It’s great for business users who want to easily schedule appointments via email without fussing back and forth over mutually agreeable times.

The great thing is that your email recipient does not need to sign up with Assistant.to. The recipient does not need to be a Google Calendar or Gmail user. You do, however.

In order for Assistant.to to work, you must be using your Gmail client within Google Chrome. No problem, right? Everyone has more than one browser open on a desktop computer.

You can use this Gmail plugin if you intend on scheduling appointments with one person.

What Does It Do:

Assistant.to is an email based scheduler that appears in your Gmail. Send an email like you would normally do. The scheduler is now integrated to your email system.  It seamlessly monitors your Google Calendar so you never have to worry about double bookings and time zones. Your recipient can use any calendar system, like Outlook, Google Calendar or iCal (Apple Calendar).

Once your recipient selects a mutually convenient time to meet, Assistant.to will send an email notification of the selection to both you and your recipient.

The Downside:

Assistant.to is not for group scheduling or scheduling with two or more recipients. Maybe soon, however. More features are expected.

Also, if you are like me and use more than just Google calendars, like iCal, Assistant.to will not consider your appointments outside of Google. That raises my f*&% -up probabilities.

The Bottom Line:

I love the interface and the ease of use. I am going to integrate Assistant.to in my cloud workflow because this cloud service is just what I need for my simple scheduling tasks. In the meantime, ScheduleOnce is still the Swiss Army Knife of schedulers for professionals or consultants on the go

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Expensify: Expenses On the Run? Fun?

Expensify - Expenses Made EasyI hated doing my monthly expenses when I worked at Fortune 500 companies. I had to sleuth through my bags, my luggage and my car to retrieve all the expense receipts and match them to my credit card statement. I would waste an entire day, usually under managerial “threats”, trying to reconcile my statement and my expenses. Heck, I just hated it just as much I hated accounting.

One of the benefits of running your own firm is that you get to choose the tools that make work, fun and mobile. Online accounting Freshbooks is an example of a great resource to run your business anywhere.

What about expenses? Can it be fun and simple? Enter Expensify with a tag line that reads “Expense reports that don’t suck”. Imagine a simple way to capture and digitize on the run, your travel, business mileage, restaurant receipts and billing.

What I like about Expensify: With the Expensify app, I simply need to pull out my phone, take a picture of the receipt and the Expensify will upload the data. It then matches the receipt information to the expense.  I can also email all my trip information, travel plans and digital receipts to my Expensify email account and save me the burden of having to locate my receipts after the trip. Finally, Expensify syncs with Freshbooks, Dropbox and my Evernote account. All my receipts are uploaded to my primary cloud server (such as Dropbox) so I do not have to scatter my receipts all over different clouds.

Pricing: I also like Expensify’s activity based pricing. For example, a Team plan cost $6 a month. However, my consultants can register for free. This is useful when you are working collaboratively with a independent group of consultants on behalf of a client. Your consultant can submit his time billing and expenses to you with the SmartScan technology.

Expensify works with various banks and credit card companies in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and most European countries.

Yes, it is possible to make expense reports on the run. Online solutions like Expensify make it easy to run your business, anywhere, anytime.

3 Tips on How to Use Evernote for Business Pros

Evernote for Business

Evernote for Business

Do you ever get the feeling there are too many apps and software to learn in this wired life? For many of us, the cloud and digital technology are not making our work easier, but rather adding a whole new layer of performance anxiety. I actually suffer from “FOMA” (fear of missing apps).

Fear not. As a newly minted Lean Analytics “Udemy graduate“, I learnt to keep the workflow simple. That was hard for a lawyer. Basic and repeatable steps. Learn. Then iterate. Ok, let’s apply this to Evernote.

Why Evernote? It’s the Go-To Swiss Army knife of all apps. It’s “Remember Everything”. I would add “Find Everything”. I use Evernote to gather:

  • my research, reports, news, including information stored on the web or as a pdf document
  • business cards
  • my handwritten notes
  • my reminders
  • all my scanned receipts, ebooks, membership information
  • manufacturers’ warranties

Evernote is free but if you jump in as a Premium subscriber (which I am since 2011), all your notes (including your handwritten notes) becoming searchable, even offline.

In the video below, I will show you 3 tips on how to use Evernote in business. This video if for knowledge professionals, like lawyers, business advisors, consultants, who are always on the run.

Specifically, I will show you how to use Evernote to:

  1. collect and highlight all of your web and pdf research (and find it, even if you are the most disorganized person in the world)
  2. scan your business cards with Hello Evernote or Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner (or any scanner for that matter – but it’s just so damn easy for the Evernote ScanSnap)
  3. set your Reminders

Review of Canva.com: “Amazingly simple graphic design” DIY online services

Simple Graphic Design

Simple Graphic Design

Admit it. You used to read lengthy novels, the whole Sunday New York Times, and heck, even Ulysses. Without pictures. Now with tablets and smartphones, it is pretty tough to capture our interest unless there is a picture or a graphic to bring us in. If you present information to an audience, you know the power of images or blog graphics to enhance your content. Does that mean we all need to learn Photoshop or Illustrator? Thankfully, no.

Canva to the rescue! I have been testing this “amazingly simple graphic design” service for the last week. Within minutes of setting up my account, I was able to create logos, graphics without knowing anything about graphic design. Canva is an online cloud service to create great looking images and designs for your presentations, blogs, reports, Facebook and Twitter covers, business cards, posters and invitations.

I created the blog graphic for this and my previous post. I was even able to create really powerful looking presentations with easy drag and drop features. On the fly, for free!

Canva also provides premium graphics for only $1, which is unbelievable.

Obviously, if you are thinking of creating a logo for commercial purposes, you will need to negotiate the ownership of your commercial proprietary rights with your designer. Canva may not be your solution in this case.

I now consider Canva as one of my go-to-tools for enhancing the visual appeal of my content. Now you know my secret. Give it a try as well.