Free Tools for Organizing Projects

If you’re going to get things done around there, you’ll need a good set of tools. And while notebooks and documents on your accounts may be working, keep in mind one of the tests of managing an event is whether someone else can pull off next month’s or next year’s version without reinventing from scratch. Even if that person is you and it’s just a semester-long study group or this year’s spring break trip, this is a great chance to practice using some more collaborative tools. Many of these tools will even help you offload some of the work, making any time spent mastering them easily recovered in productivity gains. (If you read my book, you can get a lot more in-depth about why this matters.)

Here’s my short list of free tools that have value in the post-college world. Most have more elaborate paid versions, but as with Gmail, the basic, free versions should be more than enough for most people.

If you think you’re doing great as is, at least be sure you’ve got a regular backup system for your hard drive.

Slack lets your team work together, but also creates a wiki for new members and next time.

Evernote is great for projects and for organizing your academic life.

Google Forms is perfect for simple data collection: Signups, member contact info, RSVPs, basic surveys.

Wait, you do have a Gmail account, right? There is a pedigree among email addresses when you are job hunting and gmail is a safe choice while Google Docs and Sheets are great for shared information. If you’re a non-profit you can get a robust set of tools for free using G Suite—including having your organization’s domain emails run as Gmail (saves training, too.)

Just need some simple storage for key documents and images? Try Dropbox (likely not needed if Google Drive is working for your group). Firewalls making it tough for someone on your team to access those files. Try WeTransfer, emails a link that, in my experience, sails right past all security measures. (Practice good online manners and always write a note with some detail, so the recipient knows it’s really you and safe to download your link.)

Need a format for a budget? Templates abound online, but here’s one for Google Sheets. Check with your school, it’s likely the student council, intramural, or Panhellenic organizations have a template that works well for the approval process, and may include to-do lists that hit the school- or city-specific requirements for accessing facilities and permits. If they don’t, then consider going back when you have the time and finding out if it’s possible to get a committee together to develop one.

As always, I’m saying these things will help you do a better job now, but I’m also promoting the idea that you need to see the bigger picture. The more tools you can deploy in accomplishing things, the more you’ll see the possible ways people can collaborate in the working world. That world view will help you, even if the places you work don’t use these tools, or they have all been replaced in four years by new tools. And when you’re doing informational interviews, you can ask what tools they use in their industry or company and try those out, too. Even if a company uses something else, when an interviewer zeroes in on a bullet-pointed accomplishment on your résumé, you’ll really have something interesting to say.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply