Tools to Shine – Some Essentials

Have you tried assembling an IKEA piece of furniture? One tool is often part of the package, but did you notice how much easier the endeavor can be when you have additional options in your toolbox?

Just as you thought you did not need it, that right size screwdriver is looking at you, ready to be of use. The better your gear, the more efficiently and effectively you can work: combining your tools with your skills, you are on the road to remarkable accomplishments!

You will find that some instruments are like base colors: they fit into any kind of scenario, blending into your project effortlessly and contributing to a successful end result. Other instruments are really specific to certain areas of work or type of projects.

Over the years, I have developed my own list of preferred tools for the different parts of my work. A few are specific to language services activities, but a good number are of generic application. Like your base colors, they can be of use in a variety of business and life settings.

Here are my most used and favorite ones:

  1. Contact management: Outlook. The address book has become a powerful tool, allowing the storage of comprehensive contact information including the attachment of files. It has a strong search function allowing to filter the content by keywords.
  2. Web site and blogging: wordpress.org developed into a popular tool across markets. Its ease of use allows even beginners to set up a simple site and blog. Look for the many available templates. Updating your site and blog is made easy; this platform also has the capability of handling an online store.
  3. English dictionary: it’s a matter of taste, you can find online versions of classic print dictionaries like Oxford, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster, as well as aggregators that gather their information from a variety of sources, like Dictionary.com. My favorite right now is Merriam-Webster.
  4. Review and proofreading: Grammarly. Built in spell checks catch a good amount of errors, but not nearly as much as this product. The free version allows for a browser add-on that checks all your writing for typos, grammatical errors and even contextual issues. The premium version has an MS Office plug-in, gives style improvement suggestions, and even detects plagiarism! It is easy to use and can be enabled or disabled while writing.
  5. Images: pixabay offers a wide selection of free stock images. It has a great search tool allowing to filter the database for what you need. Still need a little tweaking? If you are not a Photoshop owner and user, picmonkey can get you quite far. This free tool can adjust image sizes, change coloring and focus and make the selected image fit your needs.
  6. File management and transfer: Dropbox. This service is free for less than 1 GB of storage. It allows to develop a complex folder system and to attribute selective access to each individual one. Great solution when sharing information with specific clients on a private basis. In addition, it is a tool to sync files across devices and it keeps a 30-day version history.
  7. PDF viewer, editor, and converter: Foxit Reader can be used to view PDF files, convert and annotate them. It allows to fill out forms and sign them. The Reader version is free.
  8. Online back-up: Carbonite is an affordable and easy to use cloud-based backup No more needs to purchase hard drives and schedule backups for your computer. Folders and files are updated continuously as you modify and save them. Your backup can be accessed through your Carbonite from other computers if needed.
  9. All answers: find an answer to any question you might have on Quora. Type it in, it is very likely that it is there already if not, another Quora user will provide it.

This is just a current list of handy tools. These kind of applications are in constant development, as a result, the list is too. There are also many more out there and new players joining the market regularly.

Though I use most of these tools daily and I find that they all have a key purpose in my business activity, there is one that I am always looking forward to using: pixabay. The beautiful images posted by photographers around the world give me a mental break when needed, while I still feel that I am doing some research for future posts.

What is inside your box and what is your favorite tool? Please share by leaving a comment below.