I am a big fan of using technology-based tools to maximize creativity, particularly with groups. If I am truly stuck and in a rut getting off the computer works best for me. But in other cases, there are some simple, brilliant tools to help individuals and teams clarify, generate, develop, and implement ideas. Here are a few of my favorites.

Trello is a collaboration tool that is designed to organize projects. However, I like to use it as digital sticky notes, especially if I’m working with others and we are not in the same location. You can have multiple boards (like a folder, bulletin board, or Pinterest board) and in each board you have cards (e.g. the sticky notes). You type on each card and can move it around to a new board, reorder it within the board, assign it to someone on the team, and more. The best part is that the basic version (what I use) is free.

I first learned about Trello from my friend and colleague Brian Sibley. I hired Brian to help me clarify my communication in my consulting practice. Brian lived near Seattle. I lived in Wisconsin. We talked about getting together in person and then decided in order to minimize finances and travel time we would do the session via Skype. We were both a bit nervous that it might not work that well being 2,000 miles apart. In the end, it was excellent! Brian would pose a question and we would both brainstorm responses in Trello. We could see each other’s responses in real time. We could move the cards around, reorder them, edit them, drag them to different boards. It was awesome. Since then, I’ve used Trello many times when I want to collaborate and generate ideas with someone else. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

A big part of being creative is being able to implement the new ideas. Asana is a project management tool that helps you stay organized, on track, and be able to communicate with your teammates. We use it at Climer Consulting an love it. They have a great series of instructional videos to get you started. I have used it with two different teams and it has made a big difference, especially for projects with lots of moving parts or many different elements. Do you already use Asana? How has it helped you?

Focus at Will
Do you ever struggle to stay focused? Sometimes, despite my best intentions I get distracted easily. My mind wanders, I start checking email, I decide I should get up and put in a load of laundry or refill my tea cup. One thing that helps me stay focused is Focus @ Will. It’s a curated site with background music that actually stays in the background. As the site states, “Mainstream music lowers comprehension and creates distraction because it is designed to connect with you intellectually and emotionally.” Good point. At Focus @ Will they designed music in partnership with neuroscientists to help you focus. How cool is that?! It’s free for 30 days then requires a small subscription fee. If you want an intense, energetic music try the ADHD channel. If you are looking for something more soothing go with Water. Like the background noise of coffee shops? That’s an option too.

I recently shared this tool with a client who was struggling to focus at work. She is the HR Manager of a manufacturing company. Even with her office door closed, it’s loud. Machines are constantly buzzing and she found it distracting. She tried Focus at Will and sent me a note about how it made such a difference. She loves the Classical channel. I listed to UpTempo. What’s your jam? Here’s the link

Try out these tools and let me know what you think. Do they help you collaborate with your colleagues and be more creative together?

There is incredible potential in being creative together, if you can find a way to share ideas and get the work done together. These tools will help make that much easier. Good luck! Happy creating!

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