Feeling rushed and disorganised? These productivity webapps can help simplify your life. Do let us know if you like any in particular or have others to suggest.
Dropbox is a file-hosting service that stores your files in the cloud and synchronises them across your computers and mobile devices. Anything saved to your Dropbox folder (which can be selectively shared with others) on your computer is automatically synchronised with cloud storage. Easily access Dropbox from other computers and mobile devices and the updated files are there. Invaluable for collaboration and documents that need multiple edits.
Evernote allows you to take notes, photos, voice memos or webpage excerpts, tag them with keywords, dates, website names, etc., and then place them in cloud storage making them accessible across other computers and mobile devices. You can also set up alerts on your notes. With the free account, you’re allowed 60MB of uploads/month.
iAnnotate is a mobile app (iOS and Android) that allows you to annotate PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and images on your tablet. You can import the files from Dropbox; highlight, underline and take notes on the files; synch your files back to Dropbox; and export just your notes if you like.
Mendeley is a robust document-management system that also manages your citations and references. Use Mendeley to organise the articles and other PDFs on your computer so that you can easily find them by author or keyword. Best of all, synch your library with generous cloud storage so that you can access your PDF library on any computer or mobile device.
GoogleDrive is cloud storage that is part office suite, part file-synching service. Use GoogleDrive to create documents (including spreadsheets and presentations) as well as to store any kind of file from PDFs to videos. You get a generous amount of storage space with the free plan and you can set up a schedule to synch your computer’s files with the cloud storage.
Curating & presenting
The elder statesman of social-bookmarking sites, Delicious allows you to save shortcuts to favourite websites from anywhere and categorise them with tags. You can search Delicious to discover new sites, follow other users’ lists if they are shared and see your own bookmarks’ popularity.
Pocket is your own personal read-it-later clipping service, allowing you to save links to web pages that you’d like to read later. Great for when you’re short of time but really want to remember to read something. Add an extension to your browser to add things easily to your Pocket list. Use the Pocket mobile app to read your saved pages when you’re on the go.
Scoop.it helps you share the best of the web by curating online content. Easily bring together almost any kind of content on any topic from news stories to tweets to videos and share via a link on social media sites. Scoop.it’s content-suggestion feature is handy and its presentation is intuitive and engaging.
Organising your thoughts
Workflowy may not look like much, but its strength lies in its simplicity. It is an elegant to-do list creator which mimics the way you think naturally. You start by making a high-level list of ideas and then drill down to divide the ideas into smaller pieces, allowing you to maintain an intuitive outline of ideas without the list becoming unwieldy. You can subdivide your lists almost indefinitely, tag sections with keywords, toggle entries on and off and search across all levels. A great way to declutter your mind.
MindMeister is a simple mind-mapping tool that allows you to organise your thoughts and projects using linked text bubbles which change colour based on hierarchy. Handy toolbars make it easy to create, zoom in and out of, save, print, embed and share your mind maps.
Wunderlist is a very powerful yet easy-to-use and beautiful task manager that allows you easily to share information and work with others. Features include the ability to email to-do lists, in-app notifications, email alerts, Facebook integration. It also syncs with the cloud and has an excellent mobile app.
Asana is a very simple but powerful project task manager, as easy to use as a text editor and email but allows you easily to keep records and statistics about a project’s development. With the free version, you can support up to 30 users and unlimited projects. The 3-section dashboard is intuitive and lets you see and manage tasks and subtasks easily, and the fact it’s online and has a mobile app version means it is accessible 24/7.
Trello is another webapp for getting thing done, but with a very visual interface that feels a bit like managing index cards on a corkboard. Flexible and very intuitive, you put information on ‘cards’ (which can include tasks or ideas). You can then organise the cards into lists and easily move items within or across columns, customise list names and colours, attach images and other files. Each item can have its own check list, due date (which turns yellow as the date approaches), comments, and members who can see it. Trello is also great for keeping track of team projects, with real-time editing, task assignments and email notifications. A mobile version allows you to view and edit data on the go.
Seeing the big picture
Hojoki aggregates the stream from all of your cloud accounts such as Google Drive, Evernote, Twitter, Dropbox, Trello, Basecamp, etc. But even more handy, allows you to invite collaborators to see the stream and have conversations about the files (gathered in one place and not in email!) which can then sync back to the various services so no one is left out. Excellent mobile app as well.
Zapier is another webapp that helps to automate tasks between over 250 online professional and productivity apps. You can do really neat things with it such as create a Google spreadsheet row from Evernote notes, create a Google Calendar entry from most major project task managers or send WordPress comments to a Google spreadsheet. The list of possible things you can do is many, and the Zapier website provides lots of further examples.
DropTask is intuitive visual project-management software that allows you see with a single glance an overview of the status and workload of any project. The handy sharing feature allows you easily to delegate tasks, assign deadlines and track progress for projects. You can also integrate DropTask with various Google services such as Calendar, Tasks, and Drive.
Tricider is a useful tool for brainstorming and voting. You can ask a question or collect ideas and then invite friends or colleagues to vote on their favourite or engage in a discussion. Great for crowdsourcing and brainstorming or just making a group decision, Tricider has a very simple interface and does not require registration. You can respond with either your name or anonymously, so it can encourage people to be uninhibited and creative. Best of all, your email inbox stays uncluttered with confusing and lengthy email threads.
MeetingBurner instantly makes webinars with the click of a button without needing to download any software (you must have Flash though). Free for up to 10 meeting attendees and lightening fast, you just send a link to your meeting to various people who then click into the meeting. MeetingBurner also makes it easy to schedule meetings, view past meetings and customise settings such as the meeting room name and weblink.
Social media management
HootSuite allows you to manage all of your social-media streams from a single dashboard. You can filter your steams based on groups and search terms so that you stay on top of the postings that matter most to you. Has excellent mobile app and some smart built-in analytical apps as well.
Use Brook to stay on top of your Twitter feed. Brook sends you a daily email with the top Tweets from the people you follow. You select the people whose tweets you want to follow, and Brook sends you a daily list with the best tweets from each person. Brook definitely helps you stay more productive with Twitter by allowing you easily to get the best content in your news feed.
Buffer allows you to queue up content for your social media networks (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and schedule when it’s distributed. You can specify up to four times per day (and customise each day of the week) to ensure maximum exposure to your followers. Install the browser extension and just click a button to add a webpage, image or video to your Buffer. Buffer also integrates with many other news and curation sites.
Rebelmouse pulls together all of your social content output (such as blog posts, Tweets, LinkedIn updates, Flickr pictures or Tumblr entries) into one beautiful magazine-like page. It’s easy, automatic and always updating. It’s a great way to maintain a website front end or be your main personal presence online.
BlissControl helps you easily to manage your social network settings, all from one place, such as your profile picture, password, email address and settings, design and 3rd-party permissions. It also helps you to delete a social media account and recover your password — all without requiring your login on the native interface for any of the services it supports.
PrintFriendly removes images and unwanted text from webpages before printing. It also allows you to whittle the text of the document down to just what you’d like to print, as well as easily save a PDF of the document or send an email copy of it.
A very simple tool, LightShot allows you easily to make, save and share a snapshot of your screen. Once installed, just click the feather icon in your tool bar, select the desired area with your mouse, and then click the intuitive buttons to save, share on social media sites or delete and start again.
PhotoPin is a search engine for Creative Commons photos that you can freely use as long as you attribute your source. The interface and presentation of images is lovely, and you can search by keyword and category. It also provides the code for the exact wording and icon of the creative commons licence. Make sure to scroll past the sponsored images at the top of the search results which are not free.
PicMonkey is a fast and very cute web-based image editor. PicMonkey does not require registration and easily allows you resize or crop images and add filters, frames, text and other cute features.
Pixlr is an easy-to-use online photo editor with many advanced features (such as you might find in Photoshop or Gimp). There is also an app for iPhone and Android called Pixlr Express which has many of the same tools.
Yapp allows you to make your own app for an event, conference or party. It’s extremely easy to use, and you can have a very professional-looking app up and running in minutes. You can include a schedule, news feed and Twitter feed, photographs, contacts and other important information. Changes to the app happen dynamically and you can even push notifications to users.
Personal work habits
Mailstrom helps you clean up your email inbox. You enter the connection settings for your email (easy for accounts like Gmail, but you may need to contact IT if you don’t know your institutional settings), and it then swiftly sorts your email into categories, such as by sender and size, allowing you easily to delete unneeded or unwanted messages. This is an excellent tool for reducing bulging accounts and achieving that elusive ‘inbox zero’ nirvana.
HabitForge is a very simple tool for starting and maintaining good habits. You create a reminder with a question about whether you’re accomplishing a new habit of your choosing, and it’s emailed to you daily. Every three days, it sends an email (also created by you) with a reminder of the things in your life you’d like to change with the new habit. A counter set to 21 tracks the positive times in a row you perform the habit, with the counter going back to 0 for a lapsed day (under the assumption that it takes 21 days to forge a new habit).
Based on the Pomodoro technique, Focus Booster helps you focus in short bursts of 25-minutes on one task with breaks of varying lengths in between. The duration of the work-bursts is customisable, and the software displays a handy timer that discourages ‘cheating’ on time-wasting activities.
StayFocusd blocks time-wasting web sites for set periods allowing you to get work done. An extension to the Chrome browser, you customise the sites StayFocusd blocks and for how long. Tighten the program with a puzzle challenge and use the ‘nuclear’ option for total cold-turkey lockouts.
Whichbook helps you decide what book to read next. You decide where on a continuum of qualities you’d like the book to be (e.g. ‘optimistic’ v ‘bleak’ or ‘conventional’ v ‘unusual’) and let Whichbook make recommendations. Click the cover art to borrow from your local library or buy from suppliers like Amazon and Audacity. You can also search by author and title and add items to make your own customised lists. Fantastic for discovering new books and authors.
Calm.com is a relaxation resource which provides you with a guided relaxation of either 2, 10 or 20 minutes with calming words and sounds. That’s it. Just put on your headphones and chill out. Ahhhh…