Three Productivity Tools for Online Teachers

Three Tools to Help You Be More Productive in Your Teaching Business

Three Productivity Tools for Online Teachers

Last month, I went app crazy.

I signed up to take free trials for different CRM (client relationship management) software, email tools, and a host of other applications. Some of those turned out to be not that useful, but others stuck. And below, I share with you three tools that will help with your productivity, and in one case, your online security too.

Let’s start with the one I had used a little before my app discovery month, but now it’s the first place I go to when starting work. I also made a video for this one.

Asana

Click here to check out Asana

Known as a tool to help you communicate with your team (or students!), I use Asana as my project hub. In short, I use it to:

– Write down all ideas I get over the course of the day
– Keep track of my progress with certain projects
– Write down all the tasks I need to do
– Set deadlines for these projects and tasks

So, let’s say that you are new to online teaching and want to build a website. Well, you can use Asana to organize this project, and to help you stay on track.

Here’s a quick video showing you Asana being used in this hypothetical situation, and also how you can use it to collaborate with your learners (turn on HD and go full screen with this one!):

I hope that gave you a good idea of how you can use Asana; and there’s a lot more to Asana that what I showed you (including Chrome extensions and forwarding tasks from your email).

I highly recommend this app for all online teachers who want to be in control of their projects, and also for teachers who want to collaborate with their learners.

Setting deadlines for your projects (and holding yourself accountable) means that you make progress with your goals – and this is where I believe Asana really shines.

And the best thing: it’s free!

LastPass

Click here to check out LastPass

Having unique and strong passwords for your multiple accounts is necessary these days. But it is impossible to remember strong passwords, especially if you have one for PayPal, personal and business email, your website login, and a host of other accounts that we all use.

LastPass is an application that I had heard about, but for whatever reason, just put off getting it. And now, I can’t believe I went so long without it.

In a nutshell: it allows you to generate very strong passwords and save them all in your password vault. With the browser extension, LastPass automatically fills out the sign in fields as you enter the page. Or, you can simply click the links from your vault to get automatically signed in.

This has not only dramatically increased the security of my online accounts, but it also saves me time having to fill out fields to sign in (or to go through the whole forgotten password process when I can’t remember a password).

One more thing – it’s not just for passwords: you can save other private information securely, like passport numbers, card numbers, pins, social security numbers, and similar data.

It’s free for use on a computer, but there is a small yearly fee to link to to your other devices.

Evernote

Click here to check out Evernote

Just like LastPass, I had wanted to get Evernote for a while, but put it off. I’m glad I did a little research and started to use it.

Evernote allows you to save anything in one place. As I use Asana for my ideas and project planning, I mainly use Evernote to clip the different articles and resources I come across.

So, imagine you teach IELTS online: with Evernote, you can save all your resources and use the following tags: IELTS reading examples, IELTS tips, IELTS exercises, IELTS listening test etc. Then, when you open Evernote, you just have to search for the relevant tag. This is a great way to build resources and have them all in one place (and synced online allowing you to have access to these resources anywhere).

I also use it for recipes, itineraries, and for inspiring articles (or articles I want to save for later).

There’s a lot more you can do with Evernote, and if you want to learn more about it, this is a good place to start.

Over to You

Do you use any of these apps? If so, what tips do you have?

Leave this comment, or any comment you have about this article, below.

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  • Irishfisherman

    Jack, I have been using Evernote for a while and find it a wonderful app for accessing my files when I am not at home, plus if you sync from a mobile device the file can be accessed from any other location making it versatile and useful tool.

    • Thanks for your comment – I tend to read articles that I’ve saved just before bed on my phone. Great username, BTW!

  • Deb

    hi jack! yes, i have been using evernote for about 6 months. it has made a dramatic difference in organizing the vast amount of esl information i gather. it is like a file cabinet on your desktop. love it! i use remember the milk for project management. never heard of asana but will give it a look.

    • Just checked out your recommendation – it seems to go well with Evernote.

  • Sandy

    Hi Jack. As you know i’m a massive fan of Evernote. I use it for everything from recipes, clipping webpages, and wine lists to brainstorming, project management and jotting down notes on the run. You can also take a photo and put it straight into the app which is great when i am out and about and see something useful for a class. I store these in specific notebooks and then you can group the notebooks into ‘stacks’. So i have a ‘stack’ for kitchen (wine, recipes etc); ESL (ideas, blogs, etc.); teaching (lesson plans, warmup games) and so on. I also use it to take notes in courses etc. Can honestly say I would be lost without it!

    I have also just started using Lastpass as my usernames and passwords were getting a bit mental…. 🙂

    • Thanks Sandy. Taking notes on courses is another great way to use it – thanks for the recommendation.

  • Hi Jack,

    An excellent post. I use Asana for some business purposes but never considered the functionality for use with online students. Than you for another great idea.

    • Thanks James. I think using Asana in this way can add value to the lessons – I do it with one student, and he really likes it.

  • I’m a big fan of Evernote. I would literally be lost without it. While the web clipper is great and the tags make everything easy to find, it’s really the tip of the iceberg!
    I have a notebook for each student and a note for each class, so I can see the entire history of my student at a glance. Because you can attach files and send email to evernote, all important information and communication is there as well.

    The biggest thing for me is the GTD aspect. Literally all of my email is filtered through evernote, and it has dramatically influenced my productivity. I highly recommend reading “The Secret Weapon,” which details the GTD method using email and evernote together: http://www.thesecretweapon.org It explains it in a few videos, but truthfully I prefer the text format found here: http://www.thesecretweapon.org/the-secret-weapon-manifesto/manifesto-part-1-the-issue

    • Fantastic advice on how to use Evernote to keep a notebook on each student – I love that idea. And thanks for the link too, I’ve saved this to Evernote to take a look at later!

  • RH

    Thank you for for sharing about Asana. I’ve started to outsource some of the work I have and this looks like it’s going to simplify everything for us!

  • Kristen Hammer

    Jack, thanks so much for sharing this. Couple of questions: is Asana really free? It looks like you can start for free, but this might be one of those numerous sites that give you a 30 day trial or something similar. Also, I use Password Box to store my passwords and its really not working that great. I found out later that there is a limit. After 20, you have to pay. And we all know that the number of sites we have to sign up with a new password are never-ending!! Is LastPass the same in that there is a limit? And have you had any glitches with it? Thanks so much!

    • Asana is free for up to 15 users – then you need to start paying. I haven’t come across any restricted product features, either.

      And LastPass doesn’t have a limit, as far as I know.

  • Viviann

    Great to see there is a recommended resource for Evernote. I’ve never got the hang of it but will try again with the information posted here. 🙂

  • Cara Leopold

    These are great resources – have signed up for Asana and Evernote (had already heard so much about this). I’ve been using Diigo for book marking sites and organising them, but Evernote sounds much more powerful. I also wanted to make a little ebook for one of my students now that we’ve done 10 or so sessions together to bring together some of the key vocab, grammar and pronunciation we’ve worked on, so I’ll see if I can put Chris’ tip below into action i.e student notebooks. Great little Asana tutorial although the interface has changed a little since you made it-seems to be more aesthetic than functional though.