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Top 5 Productivity Tools Every Solo Learning Leader Needs

I spend a lot of time thinking about and strategizing how to be productive and effective. I’m very mindful about managing my time and resources, especially as a solo learning team so that I can spend more time on strategy, design, and development rather than distractions and rework. Here are my top five tools.

Trello

Purpose: Managing projects, deadlines, and tasks
Price: Free or upgrade to premium.
Reason it works: I’m project- and deadline-driven, and Trello keeps me at the top of my game.
What it is & how I use it: Trello is a web-based project management tool that organizes projects using boards, lists, and various features. I love the way it visually displays all my projects. I like to organize myself by week and create “cards” for each project I’m working on that week. Within a card, I use checklists for all the tasks I’d like to complete for that project.

Watch my brief tutorial on how I use Trello.




Taj Meeting Notebook

Purpose: Record notes from all meetings in one place and index them
Price: $6.99-$9.99
Reason it works: I can record meeting notes in one notebook and reference them using the index feature.
What it is & how I use it: The Taj meeting notebook is designed specifically for meeting notes. I’m a huge notebook lover as I get more bang for my buck by writing down things for reflection, learning, and reference. Thus, I have used Cal Newport’s single-purpose notebook method for years before I ever heard of him (no shade, Cal).
However, I like to be able to quickly find and reference anything I’m looking for by knowing that it’s in one place. It has sections for attendees, the meeting objective, notes, and action items. Plus, the fantastic index page! Goodness, I love it so much. I can kick myself for not inventing it myself. I’m so irritated about that.

Google Forms

Purpose: Managing SMEs, collecting and analyzing data, and decision-driven meetings.
Price: Free
Reason: I had to save myself from meandering, unproductive meetings with SMEs and other stakeholders.
How I use it: I often work with large groups of SMEs to discuss and identify educational needs for the medical community we serve. I’m determined to have focused meetings that produce decisions, owners, and deadlines, so I often create Google Forms with questions that will drive the discussion I want and lead to decisions. I provide access to it, set a deadline for completion, and then use the data to get the outcomes I listed. It has a 98% success rate for me.

Want to learn more from me about how I work with SMEs to get results? Attend my session at DevLearn on November 7, 2024.

Peek 360 by Articulate

Purpose: Communicate with and consult SMEs about learning design.
Price: Included with Articulate 360 Subscription (Individual and Teams)
Reason it works as a solo team: I’m busy with project management, design, eLearning development, and other priorities, and so are my SMEs, so having constant meetings, multiple emails, and phone calls can be hard to schedule.
What it is & how I use it: Peek is Articulate’s screencasting tool, and I use it as much as a communication resource as a training tool. I use Peek to record my screen to explain something lengthy, difficult to email, or conceptually complex to my SMEs or clients. For example, one of the SMEs for a course included an explanation that seemed to contradict an earlier concept, making the assessments for that section confusing. It was easier and more efficient to record my screen, hone in on the content, and demonstrate the issue with the content. I emailed her the recording, and within the hour, she told me I was right and sent an updated version. My SMEs and clients love the efficiency and have shared that they like referring to the recording as they develop course content.

Grammarly

Purpose: Review, proof, and edit my writing; offer revisions for my (apparently) passive voice-prone prose.
Price: Free for basic, $144 for premium.
Reason it works as a solo team: I don’t always have access to copyeditors or proofreaders, and sometimes my clients don’t either, so I rely on Grammarly to close that quality assurance gap.
What it is & how I use it: Grammarly is an online AI writing assistant that offers grammar, spelling, language, and overall writing assistance. Many people use or have heard of it, and for good reason. Frankly, I think it deserves as much reverence as ChatGPT and, indeed, as much as AI image generators, which require a lot of prompting. Not Grammarly!
For example, I use Grammarly’s browser extension, which is perfect for editing when I'm developing courses in Articulate Rise. I'll get spelling, proofreading, and revision recommendations as I design. Like all AI tools, it’s not perfect. However, it's incredibly helpful if you don't have a human editor or proofreader.
 

These five tools contribute massively to my productivity as a one-person team. While I've used most of them for years, I started tracking my quality and outcomes related to the tools and processes I used, and I noticed that they were intertwined. The tools I use and how I approach my work have a strong relationship. Try using one of these tools, and let me know how it worked for you.



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Hey, I'm Kandice

I'm a learning expert with tons of experience managing, designing, and developing learning programs as a solo learning leader. I love sharing my ideas and thoughts on how I do it and manage to enjoy it...most of the time. 

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