THREE GREAT COLLAB TOOLS

Many of us have worked on projects with folks from all over the internet before and despite it being a good experience in general, communication issues can arise easily. Different issues such as wrong prioritization or losing track of what needs to be done all the way to “misplacing” information can be some of the most detrimental challanges one may face during a project which isn’t well planned and organized.

I would like to introduce 3 very simple to use tools which can make collaboration easy and most of all easy to integrate with new partners or collaborators. One of the primary criteria is that they are all cross-plattform compatible, running on Linux, Mac and Windows. They will serve three major functions:- Share information
– Plan
– Keep Track
dropbox
www.dropbox.com – First in our lineup and possibly the most essential is a nifty tool called dropbox. There are a few like it out there, but a great free 2GB in online storage space is hard to beat. Personally I like to use it for a variety of things, besides sharing files across the internet with collaborators.

There are many features that one won’t even think about once you have gotten used to it, but they will come in handy sooner or later. In it’s primary sense, as long as you have internet, dropbox will pretty much replace your USB stick. Pop a file in your folder, off you go, login from your webinterface, download. Done! You have a work computer and a home computer, but sometimes work from home? No problem, install dropbox on both computers, everytime they connect to the internet, your files are synced.

Share your files with collegues. Create a new folder in your dropbox, rightclick, go to the dropbox menu, share… enter email address. Now whom ever you share that folder with can either access it from the web, or install dropbox on their own computer.

 And to top off some of these nice features, dropbox backs up your files chronologically and lets you restore any version up to 30days. File versioning made simple and never lose something again if you are on the lazy side of backing your stuff up. I could go on, but have a look for yourself and just give it a try.
mind42
www.mind42.com – Number 2 in our lineup is mind42. A great addition to your toolbelt for quickly jotting down thoughts and linking them up to an understandable “map” of what is going on in your head. Mindmapping is a great brainstorming technique but also a great way to plan all aspects of a project. If you aren’t familiar with it, have a quick read over the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map It is also a technique which has helped me during my time at university to cram lots of knowledge into my head in a short time and actually make sense of it.
Mind42 is already a great tool in itself, but what makes it even greater is that you can share your mindmaps with anyone you like. You can assign just viewing rights or give them editor rights and go crazy with your collegues. Stefan Schuster, creator of mind42 has put up a good screencast for you to see how it works:

Now to complete the 3 step process, actually getthing things done, we get to our last tool:

rtm

www.rememberthemilk.com – Last but definitely not least is rememberthemilk. Think share-able dynamic to-do lists updateable from anywhere. It is quite great and fast to use, but instead of going on with lots to read, you just need to see how it works and Sam Soffes took a video a while back that shows nicely what it has to offer:
But there are even more features like Apps for your iphone, winmo or blackberry devices. Want to geotag your to-dos to organize the ideal route? It’s possible. You get a tagcloud representing the most occurances of tasks which you have tagged with descriptive words. Say you have to do a lot of stuff for the move next week, this will be reflected by a huge “move” or “newflat” tag or whatever you tagged them with.

Verdict

Obviously everyone has their preferences on how they like to organize things, and if you have an ingrained system, which works for you, I would recommend to stick to it. But in the case that you are still looking to organize yourself better or more efficently, you should give this combination of free tools a try and see if it does the trick for you.
Have a successful _____ ! (fill in “day/week/month/year/life” to your liking, I wish you the best) :)
Alexis Sotir

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