Most of us use our electronic devices throughout the day almost without thinking. (For some they’re almost like an extension of our hands!) But chances are, we’re not even using our phones, tablets and computers to their fullest extent to help us get things done.
That’s why if you aren’t already taking advantage of these readily available tools, you need to be. Toss out-dated calendars and cumbersome filing systems and replace them with one of these (mostly free) handy apps or programs.
Here are 25 online time management and productivity tools to make you more efficient and less stressed.
Take your calendar everywhere with you for easy access.
Google Calendar is one of the handiest ways to keep your days, weeks and months at your fingertips. Cost: Free.
Cozi will help you keep schedules, activities and appointments all in one place, create and share lists in real time, and access and update from any mobile device or computer. Cost: Free.
Cloud/Offline Document Storage/Organizing
These universal filing systems can help you keep important meeting notes, schedules and project plans handy.
Dropbox and Google Docs allow you to create documents on your computer or another device and then store them in the cloud. These tools are vital for people who work on the same documents at home and at work, use multiple devices or share documents or photos with others. If your computer crashes, you don’t lose your documents. Cost: Free.
Evernote lets you store and access documents, photos, websites and more from any device. You can create folders, search by keywords or organize in various ways. If you’re working on a project, for example, you can create a folder and then save info you find on the Web and ideas you think of as you’re doing other things. For a more comprehensive look at note-taking apps, check out this page at Cloudwards.com. Cost: Free; $5 per month for Premium account.
Online Bill Pay
Make sure all your bills are paid on time by automating the process.
Finovera and MoneyStream are bill pay apps you could set up to avoid bill pay through your bank, if your bank charges for that service. You should be able to find setup instructions on the bank’s website, but you should ask your bank if there is a charge before getting started. Cost: Free.
Email Inbox Organizers
Manage emails by auto-sorting, “boomeranging”, archiving and auto-deleting. Some tools allow users to flag specific emails to auto-archive and remind you to respond.
Boomerang is a Gmail app that lets you set a time for emails to automatically send later. You can get it for Firefox, Chrome or Safari, and it also works for Google Apps. Download and see changes to your inbox that give you options for sending emails. Cost: Free.
FollowUpThen sends reminder emails or text messages to your inbox by sending a labeled email (such as firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com) for where you need recurring reminders or one-time emails. Cost: Free.
Online Newsletter Organizers
Whether those are newsletters from your favorite sports teams, industry news, hobby sites, there’s likely a ton of them. Get rid of them in a snap.
OtherInbox goes through your inbox and puts your emails into folders for you. Cost: Free.
Unroll.Me is an all-in-one tool for managing your email subscriptions. Once you input your email address Unroll Me will go through your emails and show an alphabetical list of all subscriptions that you can delete or combine to send one digest email rather than individual newsletter emails. Cost: Free.
Password and File Storage
Using a file or dedicated folder on your computer that stores passwords and personal documents makes you vulnerable if your computer is stolen. Store them online with a password or file manager.
LastPass and 1Password let you store all your passwords in one app, rather than try to remember all of them or stick to just one, which often can be a security issue. Cost: Both a free and premium version are available for these.
My Lockbox is a solution for users who want to keep some files away from prying eyes. Adding files to your locked folder is the same as with any folder, but when you ‘lock’ it, it will disappear. The locked folder is only visible when My Lockbox is open and unlocked. Cost: Free to download.
Still making chore and appointment lists on a little piece of paper that you’re sure to lose? (I admit it, I’m guilty.) Let your phone remember for you.
RemembertheMilk sets due dates for your tasks; prioritize them, search them, set reminders for them, and attach them to map locations; they can be organized in list format or by tagging. Once you create your to-do lists, they are accessible from Gmail, Outlook, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and iPad. Cost: Free; $25 per year for Pro account (includes mobile access).
Nirvana offers task management services, and it has a sleek interface for easy use, including departments, flexible tagging tools, reference list creation and filtering variety. Available on iPhone, iPad, Android and the Web. Cost: Free.
Stickies computerizes sticky notes with both text and images users can customize with different fonts, colors and styles and attach to websites, documents, folders, so the note shows up on those screens. They can act as reminders you can hide then alert on specific days. Cost: Free, for Windows Vista and Windows 7.
Todoist is a cloud-based to-do list and task manager integration with Gmail. It allows users to access tasks anywhere on shared formats and offers a distraction-free design for easier use. Cost: Free.
Do you constantly save web pages, links and online text? Use a bookmark tool to do it faster.
Google Notebook integrates essentially a Google Doc formatted specifically for note taking, commenting, labeling, and easily keeping several notebooks. Cost: Free with Google Docs.
Diigo helps you save bookmarks online. Besides storing all your links in a searchable online account rather than in your browser, it lets you highlight passages and create notes on the web page when you revisit. Tag your bookmarks and sort them into lists for research or personal use. Cost: Free; $20 per year for Basic account; $40 per year for Premium account.
Don’t re-write the same email over and over again. Use these tools to identify email most often used and create template responses.
Gorgias enables you to save time writing emails by creating your own snippets and templates. Increase your productivity with templates and keyboard shortcuts on Gmail, Outlook and LinkedIn. Cost: Free.
MS OneNote lets you enter information to create and save notebooks and responses to share with others. While OneNote is part of Microsoft Office, you can download versions of the suite for the iPhone and for Windows Phone 7, and use the OneNote web app to take and save notes on the go from any web-enabled device. Cost: Free.
Keep track of how much time you spend on your computer for specific jobs with an app to help you chart where your time is going.
Rescue Time keeps track of how you spend your time on the computer by putting your computer usage into graphs and charts. The Pro version gives more options, like specifying “focus time,” which blocks you from visiting distracting websites. You can also set alerts. The Team version appeals to groups who track productivity and trend reports. Cost: Free; $6 per month for Pro account; $8-$15 per user, per month for Team account.
Call, Messaging and Video Conferencing
It’s likely that half of what you schedule an in-person meeting to do can be done on a conference call or through video. Spend less time on email and in meetings.
Slack is a messaging app that collects all your team communication into one place. Cost: Free.
Skype video and call conferencing can help both you and your team manage time. Cost: Free.
Escape the Busyness Trap
How To Structure Your Day & Week, Get More Important Things Done … And Leave Work On Time, Guilt Free
Productivity has little to do with “time.” And multitasking is a myth … Find out why in our Escape the Busyness Blueprint.
It’s a 50-page, concise, step-by-step guide that equips you with research-backed productivity principles, time management secrets of highly successful people, and everyday tips and hacks you can put into action quickly to optimize every hour, day and week. What you’ll learn:
- The 7 key components of a productive work week – and how to install them into your schedule the right way
- 4 steps to design your “ideal productivity framework” based on your unique situation
- Proven prioritization principles that work
- 10 mistakes that kill productivity – and how to stop them
- 17 habits of highly productive people