Times have changed. In this day in age, the average person spends 32 hours a month on the Internet. With the world at your fingertips and the Internet with infinite possibilities at your command, it’s easy to be lost, or easily distracted.
A double-edged sword, new technology can either empower your time spent, or sap it like nobodies business. (You know the feeling of getting stuck in a chain of link jumping, funny cat videos, or inadvertent Facebook stalking).
Here are 7 apps you didn’t know existed, which will let you harness the possibilities of technology to improve your daily productivity.
1. Password Mayhem
The number of passwords the average person has, has grown drastically in the past years. So has the importance of the content they’re protecting. Nowadays, people are buying online, online banking, and storing important documents. Now let’s be honest – do you use different passwords for each account? Are they complicated enough not to be easily guessed (letters, numbers, capitals)? Do you have passwords taped to your computer screen? The majority of people don’t use many different secure passwords for the obvious reason that they’re difficult to remember.
The simple solution is a password safe. The premise is that all of your passwords are stored in one super-safe app, which is accessible by one password that only you know. All of your other passwords can be as secure as you can make them, because you can access your safe, and copy your password from there. There are several options out there, I like 1password, but you can check out EverPassword for a free app.
The benefit? Your accounts are safer, and you won’t waste time with password recovery every time you want to visit a site you haven’t been to in the past while. Major time saver!
2. Get your daily tasks in order
Everyone knows the to-do list. And you might love them. Usually productivity geeks do. So you might have a planner, a million sticky notes everywhere, and lists in all sorts of notebooks. But how effective are they?
I suggest Things. This is a glorified to-do list, but it’s also the most technically advanced, reliable, and easy-to-use. Not only do you get to enter your to-do’s, and have the satisfaction of checking them off, but the real trump that puts it past the others is the scheduling aspect of it. This feature allows you to create a to-do, and drag-and-drop it into the scheduling tab, and set it to be reminded to next Monday. Once you get into the hang of scheduling your to-do’s, every morning you wake up to a folder of your daily tasks.
The benefit? Not having to root through emails, strain to remember what you were supposed to do that day, or forget important things.
Pro-user’s tip: as soon as someone asks you to do something, put it into things right away. When all of your to-do’s are in one spot, then you know you’re not missing anything. This considerably narrows the window for human error. Things can also be synced to your iPhone if you’re ready for that next level of productivity.
3. Dealing with your inbox
Though there are many tactics to keeping on top of your emails, ways to make sure that you’ve dealt with everything accordingly, rarely do people think about the emails that they’re waiting to hear back from. This is often just as important, since many of our everyday tasks depend on some sort of correspondence. I used to have a “waiting from” list to keep up with this, but I recently discovered a great app that does this for me.
Boomerang is an app that can be installed into your inbox (if you use gmail). If you need to hear back from a certain person, when you’re sending out an email, you can choose to have the letter “boomeranged” back to you, if the person hasn’t responded to you in a certain number of days.
The benefit? You don’t have to use up memory space in your mind to remember to remind someone that you’re waiting for that contract, of that they forgot to send you the itinerary for an event.
4. Know your habits
Knowledge is power, right? So the best way to manage the time you spend at the computer is to know your habits. In Graham Alcott’s “How to be a Productivity Ninja”, he talks about attention management. Of monitoring when you’re at the height of your productivity, to assign yourself tasks based on your attention level.
The only thing I would add to this is also understanding your computer time, when you’re at the top of your game, and at which point during the day you’re being drawn to cat videos. I suggest DeskTIme for getting to know your computer habits, to make more informed computer-using decisions later on
The benefit? By knowing where your time goes, you can make more informed decisions about how you spend your time at the computer.
5. Escaping connectedness at the computer
One of the minuses of being so connected is the feeling of always having to check up on your things- emails, twitter mentions, blog replies, and so one. It can make concentrating to get something done quite the difficult task. To get away from your notifications, but still be working on your computer, I suggest Ommwriter.
Ommwriter is a writing tool that will take up your entire screen. You won’t see the clock, you won’t see skype notifications, or calendar reminders. Just you and words to be written. The added value to this app is when you put some headphones on, since it provides you with soothing, mind-clearing music to block out the outside world. Also, there’s a sound for each time you push a keyboard button – something that becomes weirdly satisfying, hearing the fruit of your work (this feature can also be turned off if it bothers you).
6. Don’t lose your pages
Have you ever experienced the situation where you’re browsing the internet for something in particular, but happen to stumble upon something completely unrelated, yet very compelling and interesting? Without the time to read it, you think to yourself “I’ll get back to this at some point”, but once you DO have time, then you’ve forgotten where you saw it?
Enter Pocket. Pocket is a web app that bookmarks the page you’re on with one click. You can set a tag like “fun, work, rainy day, etc”. Then you go the pocket website, and see all of your saved pages, neatly arranged into your tag categories.
The benefit? You never lose an interesting article again. AND, when you have those moments when you have an odd window of free time and you don’t know what to do with it, you can catch up on some good reading.
These apps all contribute to your productivity by influencing your computer use. However is also important to look after your physical well being to be at the peak of productivity. There are plenty of things you can do without apps, like drinking lots of water and fuelling up on healthy snacks.
I suggest an app that will take care of your productivity from a physical perspective, if you’ve been spending too much time on the computer.
Meet Fitster, the web app that will remind you to take regular breaks, but most importantly, offers physical exercises you can do at the desk to replenish energy and boost productivity.
The benefit? Never let your energy levels drop too low, balance your thoughts by circulating that blood, bring back your attention.
Give these a try, and I dare you to say that the time you spend at the computer isn’t more productive!
Author bio: Julia Gifford is a tech-savvy internet enthusiast who writes about productivity, personal effectiveness and happiness. For more time saving tricks check out http://blog.desktime.com or follow her on twitter @julijagifford