We’ve all got those must-have tools and gadgets that we’ve come to love, trust and couldn’t live without.
Anything from our trusty laptops or desktop computer, to our mobile devices and software solutions.
As much as we hate to admit it, we need these pieces of technology in our life. Without them, our VA businesses could be in a bit of strife!
For me, living and working from various locations worldwide, it’s been hugely important to find tools that make life easier.
That enable me to work from anywhere, so my clients don’t even notice when I’m a few thousand miles further away.
Tools that combine necessity with accessibility and ease of use.
But these tech tools aren’t all about working on the move, they’re beneficial regardless of location.
So here goes – my top 5 tech tools (and perhaps there’s a little gem in here for you to):
Tech Tool 1. VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must-have for any digital nomad.
Or in fact, anyone who travels whilst working – whether that be simply logging into a public Wi-Fi network to check email on your Smartphone whilst travelling back from a meeting, holiday, or the shops.
Which is why it’s got my Number 1 spot.
For me, a VPN has two major benefits, and one main negative.
Benefit 1: It keeps your data secure.
Major plus point, and why it’s a must for anyone who accesses any of their private accounts when using public Wi-Fi networks.
Want to know about VPN’s? Check out this article which explains the mechanics and benefits of a VPN in greater detail.
In that article, my preferred VPN was Private Internet Access. And whilst good when I was located in France and Spain, it wasn’t so good when I moved out to SE Asia.
So now I use Express VPN.
More expensive than my former choice, at $99.95 per year (as opposed to PIA’s $39.95 per year), but for me, it’s definitely worth it.
- Faster connection – Using a VPN will slow your internet speed down. There’s no getting away from it. But some are better than others. Express VPN is hardly noticeable at all, except when the country Internet speed is slow to begin with – but that’s hardly their fault!
- More location choice – Not necessarily more locations overall, but the choice of locations that are best for where you’re currently based, will vary. Express VPN suits my needs better for SE Asia and Central America.
Benefit 2: It allows you access to country-only websites or restricted websites.
The digital nomad VA’s among you will like this one.
Recently I worked from Vietnam, a communist country that restricts access to certain websites – often social media sites.
Which could have caused a big problem for me carrying out any type of social media work for my clients.
With my trusty VPN, this problem was eliminated.
I simply set my VPN to Hong Kong (being closer than the UK or USA) et voilà, I could access all websites without any difficulty.
Work could carry on as normal.
Oh and as an aside, this also comes in handy when I’m out of the country and it’s Strictly Come Dancing time-of-year. I set my VPN to the UK and get instant access to BBC iPlayer … couldn’t be without it!
Tech Tool 2. Skype / Google Hangouts
I use both depending on who the client, or prospective client, is – which is why they essentially act as one tool in my book.
At the moment, and because I’ve been using it longer, Skype probably has the edge for me.
But I’m becoming a fast advocate of Google Hangouts too.
Now, no matter where I am in the world, I can liaise regularly with clients. Receive new business calls. Carry out tasks that require phone calls.
All I need is an Internet connection.
My work doesn’t suffer. My clients don’t know any different. And my business doesn’t stagnate.
As for Google Hangouts, I find the video connectivity better.
Rarely does the picture or sound quality alter. There’s very little delay, whereas Skype can often have a few seconds delay, depending on where I’m located.
And you can have up to 10 people on the same call without any additional cost – perfect for status updates if you have a larger team working on one project.
Tech Tool 3. LastPass
It really is hard to put these into any priority, since they’re all my Number 1!
LastPass is another trusty tech tool I could not live without.
The more I travel, the more security conscious I get. Let’s face it, I need this job to sustain my lifestyle, so whatever I can do to make my data and more importantly, my client’s data secure, I’ll do it.
Password protection is a must-have.
Regardless of having a VPN, hackers are plentiful. And they’re finding more and more elaborate ways of gaining access to your accounts and passwords.
Of course the best way of them not finding your account information is by storing it in your head. But if you have more than one client, that becomes impossible – even if you could do it for your own details.
LastPass takes away the worry of remembering passwords, or thinking they’re not completely secure. And unless you have encrypted your passwords, regardless of how good you think your digital hiding place is, hackers can still find them.
So remember just one master password, in your head, and LastPass will do the rest.
Tech Tool 4. Google Apps
Email, online storage, video conferencing, calendar, documents, social media, and more, all in one place. Accessed via one account.
Seriously, this is a definite must-have.
And not just for those who move around with your business.
I didn’t think switching to Google Apps would really make much difference, but it does.
Being able to access all my emails and files from anywhere and from any device is incredible. And I don’t mean having Outlook connected to all your devices – your laptop, desktop, mobile phone and tablet. I mean being able to log into your email and access documents from anywhere and any computer.
Okay, so if you don’t move around too much you may not see the major plus point.
But imagine you arrive at a hotel. Your mobile phone has run out of juice, your laptop is locked away at the bottom of your bag, and you need to access an urgent email and file to send to a client, ASAP.
Simply log into your Google App account using the hotel’s computer and in two minutes that email with file attached can be winging its way to your client-in-need, so you can relax.
And my second favourite thing about Google Apps is the additional storage it gives.
Keeping everything nice and tidy. I don’t have to think about using additional cloud storing solutions, or having to pay for more storage. Google Drive can be accessed via my main account, giving me easy access to everything I need to run my business.
Tech Tool 5. Asana
Last but very definitely not least, is Asana.
Where would I be without it? Probably drowning in pages and pages of to-do lists and not able to pack any clothes into my suitcase!
For me, this is one of the simplest project management systems around.
Yes there are definitely slicker ones out there. But if you want something that allows you to manage separate clients, their tasks and collaborate with team members easily – Asana‘s it.
And there you have it – my top 5 tech tools.
What are yours?