Everyone told me that this year would fly by. I would blink, and it would be over. As we enter Trinity Term, while it is only technically 50% over, I consider it to be 75% as this will be the last term that I spend in Oxford, sitting in Saïd Business School, debating and discussing with my classmates. Summer term will be spent elsewhere during my internship, and therefore I realize now more than ever how important planning and efficiency has been to maximizing this year. Though I consider myself inherently extremely organized and type-A, there are a few tools and softwares that have been key to my success. Some of these tools are my tried and trues that I have used for years, and some I was introduced to this year. Nevertheless, here is a list of my top recommended tools and platforms to maximize organization and efficiency through the chaotic one-year MBA.
- Google Suite: I am generally someone who relies on Google Drive to create shared workspaces, and Google Sheets/Docs to create shared documents. Though there can be challenges when participants don’t already use Gmail, I have still found this to be the most user-friendly place to organize documents and folders.
- Calendly: This year, I chose to pay for the premium version of Calendly, after using the free trial for a few weeks and seeing how valuable it was and how much time it saved me as I scheduled meetings across disparate groups and projects and based on different timelines. Creating various types of events allowed me to avoid the hassle of sending available times to meetings, interviews, and coffee chats and allowed me to share free time in my calendar with the click of a button.
- Notion: This year I was introduced to a new note-taking app, which honestly, to call it this is an underplaying the capabilities and potential of the tool. Notion is an organized workspace with folders, notes, tables, modules, timelines, task boards, and so much more. It also has embed capabilities with many other new productivity tools in the space today.
- Slack: Coming from a culture where I used primarily text/iMessage to communicate with everyone, and now using primarily WhatsApp, Slack and Telegram, I have come to appreciate the directness and flexibility of Slack. It’s efficacy is highly dependent on the network effects, but it is incredibly nice to have all of my chat channels organized in one platform, by various topics.
- Notability: If you are like me and like to use an iPad to take ‘handwritten’ notes sometimes, then Notability is a great notebook app for iPad in which you can easily export the notes, translate your handwriting to typed text, and incorporate drawn graphs, images, and tables into your notes. It’s a great combination to Notion for me, and allows me to take an appreciated break from the typed notes.
- Pitch.com: I have always been obsessed with design and aesthetics, especially when it comes to presentations of any sort. Pitch.com has opened up an entirely new world of presentation possibilities for me, with amazing pre-created templates for many types of presentations including animated deck slides. It is a web-based presentation allowing you to share the link with anyone online including collaborators.
- Flaticon.com: In the same vein, having presentations with easy to interpret icons that make decks more digestable and understandable is key for me. Flaticon allows me to download many graphic illustrations to use for free.
- Adobe Stock Images: Adobe stock images also has many illustrations, though you require a paid account beyond 10 free trial images or templates.
- Adobe Creative Suite: I use Adobe Illustrator at least 3 times a week, either to create my own icons, flyers, templates, designs, etc. Though I have to pay for the Creative Cloud account, it comes with Lightroom for photo editing, InDesign for template designs, Illustrator for graphics, and more!
- Canva: Also a great site for logos, templates, images, and more that can be licensed. You can also hire professionals through Canva to create whatever you need.
- Data Studio: Though a large part of my career involved data visualization, so I may be more apt to create a dashboard for frivolous uses, Data Studio is a great free tool to create quick and easy to use dashboards that you can connect to data in Google Sheets, CSV, and other common file types. I have personally created my own travel dashboard in this tool to track my personal travels!
- Procreate: As mentioned, I frequently create my own graphics, icons, and illustrations for professional purposes. While I highly enjoy creating for-fun digital art in Procreate, it also has allowed me to design mock-ups for my startup app, as well as additional graphic images and advertisements for the clubs that I lead.
- Onepager.vc: Easy site to list your ‘elevator pitch’ for your startup. Includes your pitch deck, quick founder bios and photos, and a few key metrics that allow people to quickly understand what your startup is about.
- Squarespace: If you are looking to create a website for your business, or just for your personal branding purposes, Squarespace is an easy-to-create site that allows you to purchase your domain, create gorgeous website design, and even create your own email account based on the domain.
- CreateWithPlay: This tech is new to the market and something I heard about through my entrepreneurial network. It is best used on iOS and it is an app designer on an app! It is easy to create app mockups with this flexible and versatile tool, even with transitions and functionality behind buttons that lets you swipe, click, and interact with your mockup.
- Miro: This tool was introduced to me through the business school this year, and it has allowed multiple of our collaborations on teams to be much smoother through a large ‘canvas’ board that you can place stickies, frames, ideas, and wireframes using templates or your own designs.
- Balsamiq: Balsamiq is the tool my cofounder and I used to create our wireframes for our startup website, detailing the very basic iteration of our site and how users can interact with it. It is easy to use, and quick to understand. In the process of making designs, you can utilize preset templates and build a nice visual flow that allows you to think the way the user is thinking functionally, without being distracted with colors, shapes, and patterns.