When you’re pursuing a portable career as an expat, it’s important to keep your files, notes, schedules, and everything else in a form you can access from wherever you happen to be.
If you have a permanent office space, you can fill it with paper files. But if your workspace is less permanent, how do you keep everything you need without excess baggage fees?
You do it digitally, and mostly “in the cloud.”
If what you need is in the cloud, you can retrieve it even if your laptop is broken or stolen. Since I use a PC, my recommendations are all PC-centric (because that’s what I know and use!). Mac has its own versions of some of these.
I like to save current and recent files on my hard drive, but I back them up to the cloud. Cloud storage is easy to find. Each of the services here lets you share your files with people you select, and each of them has a desktop program and apps so you can use them with your PC, Mac, iOS or Android device.
If you have a Gmail, YouTube or other Google account, you have access to Drive. It’s free storage of up to 15 GB, and after that it costs $1.99/month per GB.
Copy also gives you 15 GB of free cloud storage, and adds another 5 GB when you invite friends to use it. If you need more storage, buy their Pro 250 plan for 250 GB at $9.99/month, or Pro 500 plan for 500 GB at $14.99/month. They also offer different plans for businesses.
This is Microsoft’s version of cloud storage, specifically aimed at users of the MS Office Suite of programs like Word, Excel, etc. They offer only 7 GB of free storage, but you can pay to upgrade to 50, 100 or 200 GB for $25, $50 or $100 annually.
There are lots of other choices. Some of you may notice that I’m no longer including Dropbox on my recommended list. That’s because recent company changes there make me question the security of their storage.
Calendars and Schedules
The easiest cloud calendar I’ve found is Google‘s. You can create multiple calendars — personal, work, travel, whatever you need — and view them separately or together. It’s part of your Google account.
Staying on Track
These to-do lists, project boards, and the like are cloud-based and sync across platforms. The basic tools are all free.
Trello looks so simple it’s easy to underestimate just how much it can do. I discovered it a couple months ago, and I’ve been using it for all my work-related tasks, as well as for generating ideas, keeping track of links and content I want to share, and lots more.
Here’s a helpful review.
I was a big Wunderlist fan for a long time. Then they made some changes, and it became less useful. Your mileage may vary, and it’s still a good program that’s worth trying.
Wunderlist lets you create to-do lists. You can have different categories, and organize the lists to some extent.
There are people who swear you can build an entire business using Evernote. I’ve been using it for years, and there are some features I adore. That said, I’ve found it more useful for organizing personal things like travel, than for business. But different tools resonate with different users, and Evernote might be it for you.
What I like best about Evernote is its “clipper — a little browser app that saves an entire web page or email on Evernote for you.
Here’s an excellent Evernote review.
Until recently, OneNote was only available for a price. Now Microsoft has made it available, free, in the cloud or on your computer, tablet and smartphone. Similar to Evernote in some ways, it’s organized more like a traditional loose-leaf binder and is very intuitive to use.
Do you have a favorite cloud-based productivity tool? What is it and why do you like it?