Productivity Apps We Love

When I decided to write some posts about Productivity this month the idea of a listicle type post of apps to help with your productivity seemed like an easy post to write but, the more I thought about it, and the more I researched current apps, the more complicated it got. There are plenty of “top 10 productivity apps” type posts out there so why bother?

Instead of creating a “these are the top apps you should use” type post I’m going to give you a list, in no particular order, of apps the iwantmyname team use and those that I personally use and love.

productivity apps

Productivity Apps the iwantmyname Team Loves

As a full remote team, with members across 3 different continents, these are the productivity apps that keep us connected and on track.

  • Basecamp - We started using Basecamp here at iwantmyname in May. Now instead of having conversations, calendars, to-dos, project information, due dates and team discussions scattered across several apps, it’s now all in one space. To do items can be quickly assigned to team members and once checked off the rest of the team can be informed. Project timelines are easy to see, and overall communication and productivity have improved. The pricing of USD 99/month seems steep at first glance, but that’s a flat fee no matter how many team members, teams, or projects you add. Basecamp apps: web, iOS, Android, Mac, and PC.
  • Slack - although Basecamp is our go-to for project and team communication and organisation, we use Slack as our company water cooler. You can set up channels for any or all of the team, but it also allows 1 to 1 conversation by text, audio or video including screen sharing. Slack has a free tier along with paid options depending on your team needs. Slack apps: web, iOS, Android, Mac, PC and Linux
  • G Suite - our team uses G Suite for documents, spreadsheets, polls, as well as for email. For USD 5/month per user, it includes 30GB of cloud storage per account. G Suite apps: web, iOS, Android
  • Zoom - the team uses Zoom for video meetings daily. As a fully remote team Zoom enables us to gather together on video for meetings. Free for up to 40-minute meetings the video and screen sharing options work well no matter where the meeting members are located. Zoom apps: web, iOS, Android, Mac, and PC

Productivity Apps That I Love

In addition to my full-time role at iwantmyname, I have a side gig business and a busy household. I’m always chasing to-do lists and deadlines.
  • Agenda - Agenda launched about a year ago, and it's quickly become my favourite productivity app. It's a note taking app, but it adds dates, can link to your calendar. In their own words, "Agenda is a date-focused note taking app for both planning and documenting your projects". I use it for everything from making grocery lists, household to-do lists, vacation checklists to taking notes during meetings, outlining blog posts, and more. Agenda apps: Mac, iOS only for now
  • Microsoft Office 365 - I have the Home Office 365 plan which is 9.99 USD/month for up to 6 users and devices. For that price, I get the full Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook) as well as OneNote and OneDrive which has 1TB of online cloud storage per user. Microsoft Office 365 apps: web, iOS, Android, Mac and PC
  • Gmail - includes Google Calendar (which has reminders), Google Docs (documents, spreadsheets, slides), 15GB cloud storage for free but you can bump it up to 100GB for only 1.99 USD/month, photo backup. I use Gmail daily including the snooze feature. Snooze will allow you to schedule an email you've received to pop back up at the top of your inbox at a later time. I use it to remind myself to follow up on things that I don't want to bother putting into the calendar. Google Calendar allows you to create events with reminders for any future date - trust me, having a reminder that my plants need to be watered every 2 weeks is the only thing that keeps them alive! Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive (docs) apps: web, iOs, Android
  • Siri - While Siri can be useful to ask questions, what I use it most for is to take hands-free voice notes/memos and to set alarms and timers. Siri apps: iOS, Mac
    Not an Apple user? You can use Cortana, Alexa or Google Assistant to create voice memos, lists, set alarms, etc.

February is about Productivity

productivity

Here we are, a month into 2019 already. How are your goals for this year coming along? Often we start off a new year with great intentions and goals but within a few weeks we’re back to our old comfortable habits. When I saw the month flip into February a few days ago it was a bit of a wakeup call. The procrastination monster had me in its grip all of January but it’s time to plan an escape. Change is vital to productivity and growth—personal, professional, or otherwise.

For the next few weeks, here on the the iwantmyname.com blog, we’ll be talking about productivity, organization, and working toward our 2019 goals. For me, this means changing my old routines and habits and starting new ones, including starting a Bullet Journal, which is something I’ve resisted for years. If you are unfamiliar with the Bullet Journal concept, it is, an analog way to plan, take notes, and keep on top of your goals with a pen and a paper journal. I’ve resisted this because for 20+ years I’ve relied 100% on my tech devices for everything. Just holding a pen and writing for a sentence or two makes my hand cramp.

So, why go to pen and paper when it physically causes me discomfort? Science! Turns out there are studies that prove that the act of physically writing, even if it’s in point form notes, helps your trigger brain’s memory, creativity, and analytical functions in ways that typing it into a laptop or mobile device does not. I’ll be using a Bullet Journal for the next 90 days as an experiment (my hand just cramped at the thought of it) in an attempt to improve my productivity and creativity. I’ll be posting my results in early May.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in starting a Bullet Journal yourself, here are some resources to get you started.

And, because I’m a digital/app lover at heart, next post we’ll talk about digital apps to help you improve your productivity and reach your goals.

Do you have experience with Bullet Journaling you’d like to share? A productivity topic or app you’d like us to write about? Joining me on my 90 day Bullet Journal experiment? Let us know and we’ll do our best to include it during our productivity focus over the next few weeks.

Meet new iwantmynamer Andray

When Andray was too young to know better, he wanted to grow up to be a monk and train at the Shaolin monastery in Henan, China. While his mom may have wanted to send him away once or twice in his childhood, the farthest away he got was the wuxing kung fu school three blocks away. Since then, he’s trained in capoeira, tae kwon do, and his current favourite martial art, Muay Thai.

Andray with his family

Now that he’s all grown up with a family (including twins, which keep him on his toes more than training ever did), Andray spends most of his time writing, as well as playing Super Smash Brothers on Saturday nights with his fiancée. The parenting moment he’s looking forward to the most, however, is when his daughters are old enough for him to take them to the neighbourhood kung fu school and sign them up for lessons.

Kia Ora from Canada

I’ve received a few job offers in my life, but none of them had ever been followed up with, “So, when can you come to New Zealand?” It sweetened the deal that I could catch the tail end of New Zealand summer after one of the most horrendous Ontario winters in memory.

photo of Wellington, New Zealand photo of Wellington, New Zealand by Melanie Baker

Turns out that was just the first of many welcome changes that came with working for iwantmyname. By the time I returned to Canada I was in love with New Zealand, with Wellington, and with the kind of company and coworkers I’d been looking for (or trying to build) for most of my career.

I’ve weathered a few boom and bust cycles in the tech industry, and I’ve worked for household name corporations and startups where we worked at folding tables and you could count all the staff on one hand.

Over time you get a really good sense of what works for you (me: autonomy, innovation, fingers in lots of pies…) and what doesn’t (me: grey cube farms, endless levels of bureaucracy, Lotus Notes…)

I recall Lenz and I getting a bit off-track in one of my interviews reminiscing about the foibles of startup life, and knowing that yeah, these folks get it. (I also learned that a blog post about a local brewery served as one of my references…)

I remember asking questions of one of the guys in the office, who didn’t have answers, because he was almost as new as I was. And now, just shy of five years in, I’m the old codger answering questions from the newbs.

photo inside the former iwantmyname headquarters in Wellington, NZ photo inside the former iwantmyname headquarters in Wellington, NZ

For us inveterate techies, the greatest working joy is to be able to build things, or make them better. I’ve gotten to do that consistently since I started.

I didn’t come to iwantmyname from the domains industry, but I’ve learned what the broader industry is often like, and have come to greatly appreciate why our founders wanted to do things differently. As we humans online become ever more data points and revenue opportunities thanks to social platforms and advancing tech, I appreciate it even more.

I’ve experienced the eureka moment of feeling competent regarding to the broader DNS ecosystem… and then realizing after another year that I was such a clueless (yet confident) newb the year before.

I’ve also used that hard-won knowledge to train everyone on support who’s been hired after me, which is satisfying. I’ve become comfortable being the The Adult in situations that need one, which is invaluable. (Though on occasion still comes as a bit of a surprise.) Happily, I also have the luxury of having total faith in the abilities of the rest of the support team.

I’ve learned plenty about hiring, that I have no problem working from home, that 15+ hour flights aren’t that bad, and that good folks will understand and pick up the slack when your cat dies. I’ve learned that there will always be messy aspects when building a business with a bunch of misfits, but that it’s never the end of the world.

I’ve learned tonnes about how people tick and how business works in various places around the world. I think it’s especially important for us North Americans to learn that not everyone’s like us, or wants to be, and that everyone knows useful things that you don’t (yet).

And I’ve learned how important it is continue to give back to those who helped you get where you are, and who will help you get where you want to be. So even as we grow globally — thanks, Wellington techies and customers! Imagine what could be if every tech scene had folks as passionate, fun, and helpful as you.

In the past, planning for a company’s future has typically been above my pay grade. Not so here. I appreciate being part of the company’s first ten years, and, along with sharing info from our customers, helping to build the next ten.

Domain for a last minute gift? Of course!

While giving a domain as a gift seems about as exciting as giving a package of paper as a gift, a domain can actually be a truly thoughtful gift for just about anyone on your gift list. I’ve listed just a few ideas below, but one thing I’ve learned over the last few years working in the domain industry is that buying a domain is a stepping stone to reaching a goal, realizing a dream or starting a new resolution.

Buy a domain as a gift

For the Bride or Groom to be

December is a popular engagement month and we see a lot of wedding and engagement domain registrations. Our own MJ registered joshandmj.com a few years ago when she was getting married. Getting a .com domain is always a great idea but we also have .wedding as a unique option.

For the Family

Considering a family website or even just a family email address? You can always try to get your last name in a .com form but you can also register .family, .email, .club, .blog, .team, .online and many other options. You can also get descriptive with your family name domain, while the domain smith.com or jones.family aren’t available you could try thesmithsofwellington.com or singingjones.family or smithjones.club

For the New Years Resolution-er or the New Entrepreneur

With the new year approaching we are seeing a lot of new registrations of .shop, .store, .photography and other entrepreneurial domains.

Paul from iwantmyname has a New Zealand based project creativeforest.nz which he’s set up to redirect to creativeforest.info.

Is 2019 the year your loved one is thinking of launching a new venture? One of my 2019 resolutions is to launch my own hand dyed yarn shop. I’m working on a Shopify store, which I’m still getting set up, Sea Witch Yarn. I also bought theyarn.shop which redirects to Sea Witch Yarn. Suggested domains could end in .com, .co, .shop, .store for a store setup. Other options, depending on the type of new venture, could be .blog, .consulting, .coach, .cafe, .restaurant, .design, .cleaning, and hundreds more which you can check out here.

For the Graduate or the Job Seeker

Whether the domain is for a website, portfolio, blog, or redirecting to another URL we recommend having your own domain as a job hunter. It doesn’t look professional when you use your old hotmail, gmail, or yahoo email address so keep that in mind as well. In my case I have merlenepaynter.me and merlenepaynter.info which are both set up to redirect to my LinkedIN profile. (Not that I’m job hunting! I’m very happy to work at iwantmyname.com!)

For the Creative

Some of my favourite domain extensions are for the creative types with .band, .rocks, .art, .photo, .photography, .photos, .pics, .pictures, .gallery, .design, .ink, .pub, .press, .actor

For the Pet Lover

A favourite topic for our team! MJ has a new pup Zeppelin.dog with a website for him. I have a 1 year old dog Ziggy.dog which redirects to an Instagram account. You can register .dog, .pet and .fish with us. Unfortunately we don’t register .cat or .bird but you can register .love and isn’t that the same thing?

For the Special Event

Birthday, anniversary, graduation, etc? We think .party is perfect, but there’s also .charity, .buzz, and .fun.

For Other Interests

I wasn’t kidding at the beginning of this post when I said there’s a domain for just about anyone. With hundreds of domain types beyond the usual .com and .net available the sky is the limit, and speaking of sky one of our team has the fun kittyfromouter.space

Just a few more ideas:

.cooking, .recipes, .beer, .fan, .fun, .,lol, .coffee, .hockey, .bingo, .bike, .football, .racing, .soccer, .wine, and .cool.

You can explore all of our hundreds of domain options and domain pricing here.

Coming up in January, I’ll be starting a series of posts with ways to use your domain and how to get your New Years Resolutions on track. Have any questions or suggestions for the January New Years Resolutions series or other blog post ideas? Please send them to hi@iwantmyname.com!

10 Years and celebrating small business

We shouldn’t have made it to 10 years. At least, that ’s what the statistics say about startups because most of them fail in their first few years. But here we are and it’s been quite a ride.

Founders Lenz, Timo and Paul early 2008 before launching iwantmyname Founders Lenz, Timo and Paul early 2008 before launching iwantmyname

In the last couple years, I’ve pondered a lot about what success means for iwantmyname. We never set out to become the next GoDaddy, but it’s simply intoxicating to see a company grow. However, everything comes at a price and for me that was burnout. The very thing I thought would never happen to me because, after all, I live in New Zealand, which in my mind meant my work-life balance was sorted automagically. Turns out I was wrong.

Enough

While I recovered from burnout, I read a post from Basecamp simply titled ”Enough,” and that’s when it hit me. What we do at iwantmyname is enough. We’re big enough, grow enough, and are profitable enough. But that’s not to say we’re done. In fact, our team just launched a new site design which lays the foundation for a new direction of the company. Will that elevate us to become a giant in our industry? Heck no, but it is enough to be a small business focusing on a particular niche.

Hail the maintainers

Another idea that helped me to accept and understand who we are as a company is the one of being maintainers. If you are not familiar with the concept, I recommend reading Hail the maintainers which explains why maintenance matters more than innovation. As a domain name registrar, we help maintaining a small part of internet infrastructure. There will be innovations how we navigate the internet, but the underlying bits and pieces will stay the same for many years to come and we want to help customers as much as we possibly can with maintaining their web presence.

A reminder that small is beautiful

Over the last few weeks, I helped my wife to set up a small online shop selling local products. Everyone talks about the importance of being global in the startup world, but going the opposite way and keeping it local was a profound experience and a timely reminder before our 10-year anniversary that it is all about helping small businesses and individuals succeed.

So let’s celebrate enough. Let’s celebrate the maintainers. And let’s celebrate all the small businesses that make a difference to local communities and let people make a living.

Happy 10th birthday iwantmyname!