workstyle · Dec 22, 2015

Out of mind, cope with time

Crystal Chen
Content writer, food lover, and aniholic.

My helpful screenshot

It was on a Wednesday morning that I told myself, “This is it. You’ll travel to Hong Kong this Saturday to shop at Apple Store, J. Crew and Lane Crawford in the IFC Mall and be back in one day.” So, I booked the round tickets online on Wednesday, self checked on Friday, and left home with a shoulder bag (I remember it was a Longchamp leather bag) at exactly 7am on Saturday. My friends said I’m crazy, and my sister said, “You should’ve told me so we can go to Disneyland together!”

I wouldn’t call it a spur of the moment, an act of impulse, or even a crime of passion. Traveling alone and be back in one day was just something that’s been on my bucket list for at least two years and that I’ve never found the right time to do.

Unfortunately, not everything on my bucket list can be scratched off this spontaneously and easily.

Take developing a comic reader app for iPhone and iPad for example. It sounds simple and straightforward but for a writer who has little knowledge about designing and coding and who is only comfortable with spelling words such as Honorificabilitudinitatibus, it’s more like a daydream than a dream. And yes, I’ve checked out the how to write iOS apps guide on LifeHacker but there’s only so little I could grasp from it.

Simply put, I can’t do it alone. Not in a million years.

In my notebooks, I already jotted down ideas of what I imagine this app to look like, to do, and what kind of people it’ll serve, so I need at least a designer, a programmer and a marketing specialist to help me turn them into reality. In as little time as possible.

My helpful screenshot

This is where collaboration kicks in. As a small team of 4 people, other than my Moleskine and Midori notes that came straight from my brain, we still need to find the right tools to help us ease the pains of communication and collaboration, as well as being somewhat remote from one another.

Here are some tools that I (actually we) find helpful:

For Work

As a writer who needs a place to capture the sometimes out-of-nowhere ideas and come up with the masterpieces, I can’t imagine living without Evernote and Google Doc. You can never anticipate when a new idea might hit and when it does if you’d just be able to finish wrapping up a long-been-delayed blog post. The same goes for the designer with her graphics editors Photoshop and Illustrator and the programmer with his Xcode and IntelliJ IDEA.

For Tracking and Management

If one or more of your team members are working in a different timezone than yours, a good task tracking and management tool is especially important. What we’re using right now is Quire, which has integrated with Google Drive and GitHub, thus making a huge difference for me and our programmer Kevin as we rely heavily on them.

For Communication

Also, be it a 4-people meeting or a 1-1 conversation, we need a communication and video tool to discuss the macros and the micros of our iOS app. Skype is a quick and easy way to have team discussion, and Google Hangouts is an excellent choice for 1-1 chats, which happens a lot between our designer Amber and our marketing specialist Cher. A good communication tool is particularly important because we don’t want to waste the time that each of us has squeezed from our busy schedule wondering what is right and how it should be done on our own.

For Caffeine

Well, this one isn’t exactly a tool and it’s not mandatory. For someone who can only appreciate the smell of coffee, I drink tea - black tea and green tea with my favorite being the fruity and flowery Marco Polo from Mariage Frères - that I make in my 12oz DavidsTea Timolino, with a 2.5g of loose tea for 3 minutes and 45 seconds at 96 degree Celcius (no I’m not picky, it’s normal for making decent tea) at around 8am and 3pm everyday to keep me awake.

You may already know that working with others is never easy. And it’s something that every individual has to do at least at some points in their life. But with just the right setup and tools, everyone on the team can easily contribute to a productive team, and a big dream! I’d love to hear your experience collaborating with your team members. What’s going well and what isn’t?