A great deal of my work happens collaboratively and with people who don’t live where I do. In fact, it’s up to about half. In general, it’s not uncommon to schedule virtual meetings with others who live in different time zones all the over the planet.

Luckily, technology is making it easier and easier to write, produce and conduct business meetings. It would be impossible to get things done if it weren’t for the help of a few specific tools. I’d be strapped with endless mp3s, e-mail, and doc drafts which would clog up my systems, take up valuable computer resources, and hinder productivity.

Here are 5 of the online apps and tools that I use all the time. Most are web based and provide apps for use with a computer, iPad and/or smart phone.

skypefacetime 1. Skype  and FaceTimeSkype and FaceTime enable you to talk and collaborate with people who don’t live in the same city or even country.  It’s basically a virtual boardroom. It allows you to:

  • see each other using 3-way conferencing
  • share documents
  • chat

Both Skype and FaceTime can be ‘iffy’ during certain peak hours because bandwidth usage is maxed out.  I tend to use FaceTime (a Mac specific app) because it’s more reliable.

dropbox 2. DropboxDropbox is a virtual “file cabinet. ” How it works: create a folder and put it into the Dropbox and invite others to have access to it. The person at the other end clicks on a link to accept and then you both can see the files and update them. Everything is kept in the “cloud” so there’s no misplacing folders and files on desktops or waiting for the right time.I use this to collaborate on songwriting, music recording and production, and business stuff with virtual assistants.   You can either install and use the desktop app, the web version, or both.It’s pretty simple, extremely reliable and is thoroughly integrated with most Mac apps.

evernote 3. EvernoteI’m using Evernote as a replacement for all my paper notebooks. It’s not dissimilar to Dropbox, only it’s designed for people to add memos, to-dos, e-mails, audio, photos… anything you would write in a notebook. So, instead of having a bunch of clutter on your desktop, you can integrate everything into Evernote. You can have endless notebooks for any subject and there are good search and tag functions, to make it easy to find things. I actually use it to write my blog drafts and then send it off to others with one click for editing and publication. I upgraded to the Premium version because I wanted the ability to view my notes offline. I keep notebooks for songwriting, production, blogs, marketing etc… Once you get the gist of it, you’ll realize the endless possibilities.

google 4. Google Calendar/DriveGoogle offers a plethora of free apps for organizing and collaborating; from Google Drive (previously Google Docs), Google Calendar, to Google Mail. Create a free account with Google and you’ll receive a free e-mail address to access these online tools. I personally don’t really like the look of the interface, but for free, it works just fine. This allows you to work and collaborate in real time on documents and projects.

text-message 5. Text MessagingYep, I know this one is pretty basic. But it’s faster and more efficient than e-mails.I use text messaging all the time. I even use the text app on my  Macbook Pro so I don’t always have to be running back to my phone to check my messages.

There are more and more programs and tools coming into the marketplace. In fact there’s a deluge. I can’t keep track of half of them. Let me know what you use. I’m still waiting for a functional app which lets you collaborate in real time. There have been a couple out there, but they haven’t worked that well.  With improvements to bandwidth I suspect there will be some great solutions sooner than later.


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