Video Series: Managing a Remote Marketing Team
Day 10 - Tools
For many people, working from home is a new experience, but since I’ve been doing it for more than a decade, I thought it’d be helpful to share some of the tools that I personally use and recommend, the first of which is Notion.
Notion is really cool multi-purpose tool that can be used individually or with your team. Notion is really helpful for keeping things organized, taking notes, managing projects, et cetera. There is so much Notion can do and so much control that you have with how things are structured, organized, and laid out. I highly recommend checking out Notion.
In addition, collaboration is really important and nowadays, everyone is becoming even more familiar with Zoom, which is a great free tool for running meetings face to face or using just audio features. In addition, Slack is another highly recommended tool for text-based communication. It allows you to time-shift and send messages to your team and keep that communication organized and documented.
In addition, the Google Suite, G Suite, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, are all essential for collaboration, or you can use a tool like Dropbox and Dropbox Paper, which offers some of the same functionality.
It’s essential also to have a whiteboard tool, particularly if you want to draw things out. Working from remotely or from home, you don’t have the whiteboard in the office that you can stand up next to and point to things and draw things, so having a whiteboard can be really useful. For this, I like to use A Web Whiteboard, awwapp.com, or a great tool is Miro, M-I-R-O.
Miro, in addition to being kind of a whiteboard, has lots of other features and functionality to let you put virtual post-it notes, make diagrams, et cetera. It’s worth checking out Miro. They have a huge template library which can really springboard your team for different initiatives you’re working on, projects, campaigns, strategic planning, et cetera.
Finally, for the collaboration aspect, password management is essential, especially in a marketing team, there’s so many accounts and credentials you have to remember and use, so having a password management tool is critical.
I personally use Dashlane, and I also use LastPass with a lot of different teams to have access and credentials. Either tool is great. LastPass has wider adoption, but personally, I like the ease of use and UI of Dashlane.
Now, everyone is doing video these days, and so it’s important to understand how to make your video most effective and clear in terms of sound and quality of picture.
First, a key to good video is having good lighting. If you can use a window or if you can get some additional lights in your home office or in your home, lighting makes all the difference. Even a low-quality webcam can be improved dramatically through good lighting, so make sure you have really good lighting in your room.
Next, there’s a really good tool that I use called Krisp, that’s Krisp with a K, K-R-I-S-P, and Krisp helps you reduce and remove background noise. It uses some AI technology-type stuff to filter out background noise and makes your sound way more clear and crisp.
If you have kids running around in the background or dogs barking or your neighbor’s making noise, Krisp is a great tool to use in conjunction with a really good microphone to completely eliminate or minimize background noise.
Also, when it comes to video, screen recording can be really helpful, so a tool like Loom or Screencast-O-Matic can allow you to record your screen, which can also even record your video as well of yourself so you can have that inset in the video.
Recording your screen is great because you can walk someone through a process or an issue or a demonstration by sharing things that are on your screen, whether it’s a website or a document, et cetera.
This is another great way, just like Slack, to time-shift because I can record a video on Loom, for example, and then send it to you and you can view it when you have time. It doesn’t have to be real time. I can record it at night, I can record it in the morning, and then when you have time to get to it, you can watch the video.
Sharing videos among your team is really helpful to time-shift and work in parallel. In addition, using screen recording software helps you document processes or tutorials on how to do certain things. These can be used for later or to onboard new teammates, et cetera.
Finally, time management is a key item that you need to be aware of when you’re working from home. It’s easy to lose track of time. There’s a thousand different distractions.
Here are a couple of good tools here for time management:
The first is to use a Pomodoro timer. If you’re not familiar with Pomodoro, it’s the idea of working in short bursts of work separated by very brief periods of rest. You might work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break and then repeat. That’s the essence of Pomodoro. There’s a lot more to learn about it if you want to look it up online. Having a timer to track these periods of work and periods of rest can be very helpful.
Personally, I use an app called Focus Keeper. There are a million Pomodoro app timers, so find one you like, how it looks, how it works, the sounds, et cetera, but it’s important to have this because it can keep you on task and also enforces that you do take breaks and get the rest that you need. When you’re working from home, it’s easy to go into work mode and work longer than you should and we need those breaks and that rest period.
In addition, there’s another great app called Freedom for your computer and freedom will help you block out time-wasting apps, websites, et cetera. This is probably the best I’ve found. It’s impossible almost to stop it, so once you start a work period and it starts blocking websites and apps, I can’t really get out of it. You have to restart your computer. It’s good at what it does, but you can make a list of time-wasting apps or websites, et cetera, and then you can run a work period for 20 minutes, an hour, three hours, whatever you want to do and it’ll block all of those websites, all of those apps, even things like Slack.
You can have it block and the app won’t work at all. Freedom is a great way to keep yourself focused and to eliminate the noise and distraction that’s online in addition to letting you make progress on the task at hand.
Finally, personally, I like to listen to music sometimes when I work, but other times I like to drown out the background noise by using background noise generators that provide calming sounds or relaxing sound effects.
One of my favorite is called RainyMood, and it just plays rain sounds in the background, you can imagine. It’s very calming, relaxing, and it helps me focus on the work that I’m doing. Another good one is called Noisli, and that one has more customizing options so you can have a coffee shop or waves at the beach, et cetera.
Both of these apps are really good in addition to something like Spotify. Music can help your mind relax and takes away some of that stress of the work and helps you focus and get in that state of flow.
Your action item for today, very simple, go through these apps, tools, and find one or two that you can add to your tool set. Having the right tools can help you maintain your focus and boost your productivity dramatically, so I hope you find one of these helpful.