9 Digital Tools for a More Productive Office

If you’re looking for ways to make your apartment community’s office more productive, you might want to take a look at some of the free or nearly free digital productivity tools that our staff at the iLS network utilize on a daily basis.

sample trello board1. Trello. If you’re the type of person who lives on to-do lists, then Trello will become your new best friend. The free web resource makes to-do lists three dimensional. The basic setup centers on a “Trello Board” which can have an unlimited number of lists. Individual items are listed on cards, and cards can have notes, attachments, and their own to-do lists embedded within.

The key advantage to Trello is the flexibility it offers the user to organize data. Within seconds, you can move a card from one list to another or rearrange the order of lists. Give it a test drive by clicking on the image to your right… within a few seconds, you’ll be rearranging cards and adding lists. It’s super simple and intuitive.

2. GoToMeeting. If you work off-site, GoToMeeting is a must-have for communicating with your remote team. Unlike Skype, GoToMeeting delivers high quality graphics, so users have a crisp view of the content on your screen.

3. Skype. The benefit to Skype over GoToMeeting is that it takes a few seconds to initiate a call. We tend to use Skype for quick calls amongst colleagues. It’s a bit cheap-looking to use with clients.

4. Doodle. Our team is super involved in the apartment associations of the communities we serve. Being “involved” means organizing lots of meetings. We have found Doodle to be a great resource to let a large group of people set meeting days and times. Once everyone puts in their availability, it’s really easy for the organizer to determine the final day and time. The transparency built into the process has the added benefit of ensuring that no one feels slighted or left out if they can’t make the final meeting date.

5. Evernote. If you have a stack of random note pads with meeting notes from the past year just sitting on your desk, then you might want to consider Evernote. The free resource is a great way to record meeting notes or random thoughts that you might want to access again at some point in the future. Your content can be organized by date, notebook, and tag. And your data will sync across your desktop, tablet, and smart phone in near real-time.

6. Microsoft Exchange from Rackspace. I’m a big believer in the concept of "you get what you pay for," and I’m an even bigger believer in exceptional customer service. At some point, Gmail just doesn’t cut it anymore. Businesses like apartment communities need a more complete, robust, and integrated solution like Microsoft Exchange for email, calendars, and contacts. Not only is Rackspace’s Exchange incredibly economical, but their 24 hour tech support is world class. Nothing beats calling a company’s support line only to have your call answered by a techie sitting in Austin, Texas. There’s no “Press 1 for this” or overseas call center… just a guy who sounds like he’s in his living room sitting around waiting to help you.

7. Google Analtyics. It’s a bit of a stretch to call Google Analytics a “productivity tool,” but I would definitely make the argument that utilizing the information within Google Analytics can save you and your team a ton of time. My strong suggestion is to stop guessing about traffic sources and conversions. Plug Google Analytics into your website and learn how to use it. Don’t just delegate it to your “web guy” or a college-aged leasing consultant.

Snipping Tool

8. Snipping Tool. I take screen captures at least a dozen times per day. Windows’ Snipping Tool lets me choose precisely what portion of my screen I want to capture, and it will allow me to save, email, or copy & paste the image. If you’re on a Windows’ machine, you most likely have the program already installed. Just go to your start button, and type the word “snipping” into the search field.t option. Unlike Wordpress.org, the “.com” version simplifies the process for you, and you can be up and running literally in seconds with a very small learning curve.

9. Wordpress.com. If you’d like a personal or a blog for your apartment community but you don’t know where to start, Wordpress.com is a great option.  Unlike Wordpress.org, the “.com” version dumbs down the process for you, and you can be up and running literally in seconds with a very small learning curve.

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