Productivity Tools for Distributors - The Capture


Jen Vaughn is the Marketing Director for commonsku; commonsku is a next generation CRM, order management and social collaboration tool for the promotional products industry. Distributors are constantly being pulled in many directions at once.  Quotes, research, RFPs, meetings, new products, order follow-up, ringing phones, and the inevitable fires to squelch can derail the best of daily to-do lists.   I’m a confessed productivity app junkie and these three pieces of cloud-based software are always open in one of my browser tabs as of late. And they’re all free.


Evernote is software designed to help you remember everything.  It’s as simple as adding a note then using their search bar when you need to find your note again.  It will even search handwritten text in notes that you’ve taken pictures of.

To add data to the program you can send pictures, notes, documents, and even audio files directly to Evernote through an email address associated with your account.  Then you can create notebooks and use tags to develop an organizational structure that suits your needs.  You can even add several tags to one note if you want to file it in different categories.

To go more power-user you can install smartphone apps, browser add-ons, or a desktop app.  The browser add-on for Firefox or Chrome allows you to clip pages directly from the web as you’re surfing. The desktop install let’s you have a local copy of your information if you have to go off-line or have trust issues with cloud software.

I use Evernote for work notes, to archive receipts, to keep a business card database, and to keep a back-up copy of my writing.

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Springpad is another web-based capture tool.  Like Evernote, you can add a web-clipper to save and organize information as you surf.  The interface is different, and a little sexier, but still has the ability to create notebooks and tag your notes.

Springpad doesn’t have the handwriting search capabilities of Evernote, but it does have a task creation function, alerts and reminders, and a promising in-app look-up online feature.  They’ve recently completed a re-designed that sent waves through the tech community with comparisons to the user interface on Pinterest.

Springpad has mobile and tablet apps, but not a desktop feature so if you want a backup copy, you will have to login and download an HTML file.

My blog post ideas are saved in Springpad.  Their web-clipper chrome extension makes it super easy to tag products and ideas that I want to re-visit when I need inspiration.  I clip a lot of pictures so their sexier interface makes it nice to look through them.

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After a particularly painful computer crash, I moved as much from my local computer to online services as I could.  It’s one of the reasons I’m such a fan of the cloud.  Rather than constantly syncing bookmarks between browsers or computers I switched to Diigo to keep all of my bookmarks in one place.

Although it offers a lot more, like note-taking, I use Diigo for pure website bookmarking.

Like in Evernote and Springpad, you can organize your bookmarks by tags.  You can also organize them by lists or groups to help make finding them easier if you have a lot.  When you’re surfing the net and find an article that you want to read but don’t have the time, you can automatically assign it to a “read later” category and come back to it when you have time.

To make your browsing more efficient, you can take notes on your bookmarked pages by highlighting or adding sticky notes directly on the page.  Your notes can be private or you can make them publicly viewable by the rest of the Diigo community.

Diigo offers access via your laptop or desktop as well as via mobile devices.  There’s no offline version for your desktop, but they offer an export function if you want to keep a back up copy from your account.

I use Diigo when I go back-and-forth between work and home to make sure I always have access to my most-used websites.

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How do you capture and organize all of the information thrown at you in a day?