digital, life

The Oregon Trail Generation

This post originally appeared on the Swarm Agency blog on June 16, 2015 during my time as a project manager there.

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You may have heard a little buzz across your social networks lately about what’s been dubbed the Oregon Trail generation.

First written about back in April, I shared this post across my social networks, and being a part of this Oregon Trail generation, it resonated with my peers and me.

The Oregon Trail generation is a bit of an anomaly. We hear so much about Generation X, and a lot about Millennials, but for those of us born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, we’re sandwiched right in the middle, not feeling like a part of either generation.

Approximately 30-36 years old at present, born around 1979-1984, us Oregon Trailers grew up as technology was sprouting up right alongside us.

A few examples:

  • We may have carried a cell phone in high school, but the bulky Nokia I carried with the changeable faceplate was meant “only for emergencies” because of the high cost for mobile minutes in the late 1990s.
  • We grew up with PCs in the computer lab and at home, but it may have been an IBM PS-1 or the first Gateway PC, with dial-up Internet that took 10 minutes to connect.
  • As teens, we may have dabbled with AOL chat rooms, building a site on Geocities, or writing in our Livejournal, but modern social networks like Facebook and Twitter were still years away from inception.

I realized that along with me, several of Swarm’s key leaders also fall into the Oregon Trail generation: CEO Tom Ellis; Director of Client Services Jeremy Morris; and Director of Digital Strategy Jason Prance, just to name a few.

I believe that simply by being born and raised as a part of this micro-generation puts us Oregon Trailers here at Swarm at distinct advantage. Why? We understand what life was like before today’s digital age, but we were fortunate enough to have tech with us as we grew up in the 1990s. It wasn’t there from birth like it is for today’s kids, nor did we have to undergo the challenge of learning and adapting to digital as adults, like Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

I also feel that being an Oregon Trailer makes one truly enthusiastic about today’s digital marketing possibilities, because not all of today’s ammo in the arsenal was always available, and we’ve seen it evolve over time.

We can joke about outdated SEO tricks, or wax poetic about website projects we did a decade ago, now housed on the Wayback Machine, because we’ve been around just long enough to feel a little bit like digital old-timers.

So why not consult the Oregon Trailers here at Swarm for your next digital project? We’ll make sure to spend a couple minutes remembering the days of old spent in the computer lab playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego…. and of course, Oregon Trail.

career, digital

6 Tools That Help You Juggle Tasks

This originally appeared on the Swarm Agency blog on April 21, 2015 during my time as a project manager there.

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As a project manager for Swarm, it’s a must that I stay connected, communicative and productive at all times.

As a PM, not only am I helping to wrangle project timelines, agency resources, project budgets and hours spent on our projects, but I’m also entrusted to communicate with our clients throughout the lifecycle of a project, from discovery to deployment.

Aside from typical project management software, I’ve found there are a host of handy productivity tools to keep me on track, on time and on budget. Here are just a few:

  1. Evernote – Swarm has invested in an Evernote Business account. I love being able to search through client meeting notes and internal brainstorms quickly and easily. I can email meeting agendas directly from Evernote and share chats internally to agency stakeholders. It’s a lifesaver!
  2. Powerbot for Gmail – Powerbot allows you to save email threads, including attachments, to Evernote or Dropbox with a click of a button. Based on the contents of the email, Powerbot will even suggest which Evernote notebook it should be filed into. I tried this on a trial basis, and I’m about to pull the trigger on a paid subscription. Powerbot is also available as a bundle for Google Calendar, and is also available for Outlook and Yahoo Mail.
  3. Awesome Screenshot – Awesome Screenshot is a free Google Chrome plug-in. When working through projects with clients, I can take screenshots and quickly add annotations. You can then save the image locally, print it, or save on Google Drive, among other options.
  4. Boomerang for Gmail – I love, love, love this tool. Whenever a fellow Swarmer or client wants me to follow up something on a later date, or if I’d like to remind myself on a certain matter, I can schedule an email thread to pop back up at the top of my inbox. Not only that, but I can also compose and schedule an email to go out at a certain time and date excellent for reminding clients or coworkers about needed assets for a project! If you’re a multitasker who lives and dies by your email inbox, this is a very handy tool.
  5. Sidekick by Hubspot – This is a great and handy way to know when an email has been opened and read. Basically, it’s a stealthy “read receipt.” Sidekick is also building in some features to compete with Boomerang, such as email scheduling.
  6. Todoist – I splurged on a Todoist Premium account and haven’t looked back. I’m able to keep track of my to-dos in multiple projects, attach files and notes to to-dos, create alerts for to-dos via text, email or alert, search tasks and more. Todoist helps me keep on track for what I need to do for a project, whether it’s for work or for life: groceries, finances, volunteer activities and more.

These are just a few of the tools that help me slash through my to-dos and keep my projects on track. I hope you found these helpful!