I often get asked about the tools and resources that I use to live a Laptop Life. Here's a list of resources I use that will be helpful in your pursuit of New Economy Freedom! Let me know if you have any questions about any of the resources below. Some of the links below could be referral links - but please be assured that I only refer tools I use myself.
I often get the question - “how do you like living in Oregon?” I don’t live in Oregon. I’ve never even been to Oregon, but all my mail goes there. Why? Because when we travel so much it’s very, very mean to ask someone that you know to use their address and dump them with the burden of sorting out your junk mail. Earth Class Mail does that for us. We have an Oregon address but you can pay for a swankier one (I think you can even get Park Avenue). You give everyone your Earth Class Mail address and all of your mail goes there. Earth Class mail will scan the envelope and present your deliveries to you in your web portal. You decide if you want to scan it, shred it, recycle it or ship it somewhere else. They also have check cashing and other more advanced features.
I know you have all probably heard of Vonage but you really can’t beat their phone plans if you need to call real actual phone numbers. The worldwide plan includes over 60 international countries including most of the ones that your outsourced contractors will be in. Plus - they work from any country with an internet connection. Which you can ship one to yourself and then send it on to somewhere else that you would like to be able to call the US for free - say your customer service support in the Philippines.
Grasshopper is a virtual telephone exchange. You can make your business seem much larger than it actually is by creating a traditional gateway phone menu. You can forward your calls wherever you like based on the numbers selected by your caller. You can really aid your internal processes by deciding what calls go where and how they get answered.
No Laptop Lifer can live without Skype. Not only can you talk to anyone and everyone everywhere for free - you can also bring a team together for a conference call and share your screen. When you sign up for the premium version you also get to choose a country where you can call actual phone numbers for free without having a Skype out number. Family dictates that we select the UK but if you have a large team in another country this is a great option if you don’t want to spend the money on Vonage.
You can sign up for Skype through the Laptop Life link here:
I use this tool to train my team on new processes, to build recorded webinars, to explain difficult concepts that require a visual reference to distant clients. Just start Camtasia and you can record whatever appears on your computer screen along with your voice. You can record your whole screen or just a portion and then afterwards you can edit out your pauses and mistakes, even turn up the volume on your voice track. This is a very important tool in my location independence toolbox.
This is another vital tool for working with my outsourced staff. Especially my technical staff and designers. Let’s say I am testing some software I am developing and I notice a mistake on the screen or something I want to change… I can simply take a snapshot with Sktich and then mark up the document with mark-up tools to explain my needs. Skitch is integrated with Evernote which is a dream - I know every note I take will be automatically saved in to my Evernote app (which is where I keep absolutely everything I think I will ever need again!)
Easy, peasy online banking. Transfer between accounts in a flash, pay bills, send electronic checks, send physical checks, etc… My favorite location independent bank for years now.
After much analysis and experimentation we have found that the cheapest way to get money abroad (lowest conversion rates) are when you withdraw the currency of the location you are in directly from an ATM. But unless you have this checking account ATM fees will kill ya. Charles Schwab refunds all ATM fees and charges all over the world.
It’s not cheap but if you have a business it pays for itself. You can check out the benefits online but my favorite are no international exchange fees, $200 airline credit, a cool wire transfer program that lets you do everything quickly and easily online PLUS earns you points, lounge access, pay with points at Amazon (so handy) and more. (Note: the lounge access got so crappy that we have dropped this card. I will update when we find something new we love).
The Capital One Venture has no international exchange fees and a cool rewards program. My card of choice outside of the Amex.
I am a huge fan of Infusionsoft and think that everyone should use it. There are too many benefits to list but if you are interested in a system that will help you build a list, run your entire marketing strategy (much of it automated) and also handle your internal processes check it out. If you are interested in the system please contact me directly. Trust me there is a lot to consider when choosing Infusionsoft so touch base with me first. I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns.
This nifty little website plays music tuned to your style of working and personality to help you focus and get in to that much desired state of “flow”. The free option is all I have used - can’t see the benefits of the paid as of yet.
Decide what websites/apps/programs you are allowed to access while you are doing certain activities and set them up with Concentrate. Click on your activity and Concentrate sets up your computer exactly how you need it, blocks what you need it to block and sets off a timer. You can add voice commands, reminders and other automation too. Great tool to keep you on task especially in distracting environments like airport lounges, ferry decks or Italian cafes :-)
I am a journaler. I will always be a journaler. I have tried lots and lots of journals and although I love the feel and experience of hand writing in my Moleskine I tend to find the ease of use of Day One much more convenient.
I also like to dump my brain at the beginning of each day and I turn to writing to work through problems. 750 Words is based on “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron (if you haven’t read it please do) and although it cheats a bit as Julia asks you to write long-hand 750 words is much more fun. Your daily writing is encouraged with fun and funky tokens and awards and there are some nifty reports that give you insight in to what you are thinking (aka worrying) about.
I run my business from Evernote. It keeps everything I have ever come across, thought of, talked about, etc… in one sweet location where I ca always lay my hands on it the moment I need it. It synchs with everything and I couldn’t live without it.
My entire company and every who works with us in any capacity is forced to use Google Drive and Google Docs. I don’t even have Microsoft Office loaded on to my Macbook Air. You can share docs and see changes instantaneously and you can synch everything you need to your laptop in case you are occasionally without an internet connection.
Social Media Management
A software application that manages your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts in one place; providing the means to schedule posts.
After experiencing a harrowing and terrible crash and loss of data when I didn’t back up (the kind that you think you will never have because you could never be that stupid) I have become a bit of a back-up freak. I back up on to my time capsule but I also back-up online using Zipcloud. Quick, easy, automated.
The one drawback of having everything in Google Docs is that Google has been known to (horror of horrors) mistakenly shut down Google accounts for no reason and lock you out of your own data. I know, I can’t imagine. That’s why I use Spanning. Spanning backs up all of your Google Drive and Docs - so that if the unthinkable happened you could refrain from having a nervous breakdown.