Tools to Get Things Done

by Ashley Whitney, CIC - Vice President - Harbor/Brenn Agencies on February 19, 2010 · 10 comments

Ashley Whitney, CIC is Vice President of Harbor/Brenn Agencies. This is Ashley’s first post for Insurance Ecosystem. I am looking forward to many more. As VP of Harbor/Brenn, Ashley is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency. She is also a busy Mom, active insurance industry participant and MBA student. Welcome Ashley by reading her post and commenting.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with your life? Have you ever forgotten to do something because you have so much running through your mind? I have found over the last several years that there’s just too much information out there for my mind to keep in order. Between phone numbers, and website passwords, and school schedules, and work schedules, not to mention appointments and due dates, I often remember things after I really needed to remember them.

Overwhelmed business lady.jpg

Here are few of the (free or very cheap) tools I’ve put in place to keep me on track.



I love this program, and I don’t even use it to it’s full capacity yet. Evernote captures and organizes my notes, then syncs them across desktop, iPhone and web so I can access them anytime, anywhere. I have notebooks set up for family, work, school, and lists. There are so many uses for this program I can’t possibly list them all. I recently found this site that provides tips for Evernote uses Evernote itself has a great blog with tips and tricks

Remember the Milk


I have started paper to-do lists so many times, my problem has always been remembering to look at them. Remember the Milk is a free online service ($25 a year for some of the pro options) that reminds you of your to do items. You can be reminded by email or text (I like text), or just use the online application. They have an iPhone application that’s free for 15 days to try it out. The iPhone app is included in the pro version.



At last count, I have log ins and passwords to almost 200 different websites. That’s a LOT of passwords and usernames to remember. I downloaded and purchased the Pro version of Roboform about a year ago, and I can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner. I originally heard about this program from various user’s group classes, but never looked into it for myself. I am still kicking myself for the delay.



This is my new newspaper. Tweetdeck is a free program that combines your Twitter stream (can have multiple accounts), Facebook updates, LinkedIn, and MySpace accounts into one very pretty interface. Using this program I can keep track of all of these social media sites without having to go to them individually. The free iPhone app syncs with the desktop application as well. If I wanted to, I could post to my personal twitter, the agency twitter, and my facebook page all with one update. The only downside, no support yet for Fan Pages on facebook. I’m hoping that is coming with the next update.

All in all, it’s very easy to get overloaded with information these days. Utilize the tools that work best for you to make sense of the chaos. These are just a few that work well for me. What tools do you like to help you get things done ad keep you on track?

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  • Ashley, Great stuff… How much time do we waste trying to remember what we're supposed to be doing. These seem like wonderful tools to help get that time back (which I currently do not use).

    ryan H.
    My recent post You May Not Know You Don’t Have Coverage

    • Thanks Ryan,

      Let me know if you start using any of the programs, and what you like or dislike about them.

      I can't quite decide if time management is my problem, or over committing the time I do have available. Either way, all of these help me try to manage it. 🙂


  • Wayne Joubert

    I'll have to check out a few of those, Ashley. Of course, you already know I am a Hootsuite fan. Kind of like the MSU vs. Uof M thing. Thanks!

    • I've seen all the updates you've been posting with Hootsuite! 🙂 Everyone definitely needs to use the program that works for them, and I've heard very good things about Hootsuite. I do like that you can pre-schedule tweets using the program. for those that want to take a look at it.

      Wayne, what's your favorite aspect of the program?


  • Wayne Joubert

    Certainly, one is it being (like TweetDeck) a dashboard for all my social media sites, which allows me to post concurrently to many sites…the danger is I'm going to have to begin displining myself to route certain messages to only certain sites instead of everyone. (You know how theese tools excite people at times!)

    But I especially like the RSS/atom feed that allows me to direct any RSS feed to any social media site. For example, whenever there is a post on the MAIA blog or a new job posted on the MI Future Insurance Jobs Board, I have it set up so HootSuite automatically sends it to any of the FB pages (fan or personal) or Twitter accounts I have selected.

    I also like the URL reducer that it uses. No more heading to Tiny URL anymore.

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  • I use Seesmic to manage Twitter and FB accounts, similar functionality as Tweetdeck but I like the search and follow features better. One of my other favorite productivity tools is Google Alerts since it puts keyword and brand monitoring on auto-pilot, providing real-time search results of your agency or competition's. name
    My recent post Is Social Networking Alone Enough for Insurance Marketing Efforts?

    • Nick, thanks for your texts. I recently went back to Tweetdeck from Peoplebroswr. Looks like I might prefer Seesmic. I was having problems with it on my old PC but I think that was my old PC. I use Google Alerts too. Great tool to know what is going on.
      My recent post Best Practices Documentation

    • Hmmm, it's frustrating that my comment has disappeared after logging in. Ok, take two.

      I tried Seesmic at one point, but I can't remember why I stopped using it. It's great that there are so many third party programs for Twitter – everyone can find something they really like. I also use google alerts, in fact, that's how I realized Pat posted something about me last week – it showed up in my google alert email. 🙂

      Another tool I use on a daily basis, but for some reason forgot to include in my post?!, is Dropbox. Nibby Priest just wrote a nice post about it today – you can check it out here.

      • Remember that technology is in permanent beta. But I really like that you did take two. You really have to watch out now. Google seems to find everything.

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