7 Productivity Tools You Should Not Be Without


I have many roles or hats that I wear in my life on a day to day basis.  The lists of hats include husband, father, homeschool dad & tutor, entrepreneur, blogger, youth children’s church teacher, and youth sports coach.  That doesn’t include the many friendships and other family relationships.  Needless to stay I stay busy and I stay on the go.  I am assuming that I am not the only person who wears many different hats. Being productive and staying on top of all that I have to do can be challenging at times.  The advances in technology, especially mobile, have helped me tremendously.  There are a few tools that I lean on heavily to help me stay productive and manage my time.  Below are 7 Productivity Tools You Should Not Be Without.

1) Evernote

This is one of my favorite apps.  Evernote allows me to easily capture information anywhere using the device or platform of my choice.  I capture my ideas, pics, voice memos, online articles/blogs, practically anything.  Many times I will be in the middle of something or somewhere without computer access and I’ll have a business or blog post idea.  With Evernote I can jot it down in the app on my mobile phone to reference later in case I forget the details.  One of the best features is it is cloud-based so no matter what device or platform my info is captured in, it all syncs.  I can access anywhere I access my Evernote account (mobile phone, notebook, desktop, Windows, Mac, the web).

Whether you are just getting started with Evernote, or have been a long-time user, I suggest you buy Brian Kelly’s awesome and very practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, Second Edition.  It is very much worth the money, and worth setting aside a couple hours to work through the 95 pages.  It will save you many hours and even days of learning Evernote and help you get the absolute max out of Evernote.

2) Gmail & Google Calendar

I have multiple email address (5 that I access daily) for personal use, business use, family use, and junk. Gmail enables me to have one central location where I can access and organize all my email.  And just like Evernote it is cloud-based so I can access it no matter that device or platform I am using at the time. When you have a Gmail account you automatically have Google Calendar.  Google Calendar helps me do the same with my appointments and events.  Personal, business, family, and many other calendars are accessible via Google Calendar.  I can view them all together or one at a time.

3) Remember the Milk

I have learned over the years that I am more effective when I can access the things I need to accomplish wherever I am, and I am more likely to bring them with me if I don’t have to bring extra items (paper, pens, planners, etc.).  I have tried many different Task Management tools, and Remember the Milk has been the best.  Accessible from the web and my mobile device, RTM basically allows me to do all the task management functions you can think of.  One added benefit is that I can also view, edit, and complete tasks from within my Gmail account on the web.  I spend a lot of time there so I really value that feature.

4) Google Voice

Our family has gone without a home phone/landline for several years.  Google Voice has easily filled this “void” and does much more.  It gives me one number for all my phones.  A number that is tied to me, not a device or location.  So instead of having a personal number, a work number, a cell number to give to people I give out one number to all.  This one number can be programmed to ring at a home phone, an office, a mobile phone, or any other number.  I get to choose which phones it rings to, based on who is calling and all messages are saved in an email like inbox.  Voice messages are translated to text and can be read or listened to via multiple devices and platforms.  In addition I am able to send and recieve free text messages.

5) Google Docs

I create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations all via Google Docs.  It is a great tool for collaborating with others and it supports real-time collaboration and tracks changes.  This allows me to create a document and share with others who may have input for this document.  I’ve used it to share and collaborate on docs with my wife, business partners, and even my daughter’s homeschool writing assignments.  And like all the other apps listed it is cloud-based so I can access on my mobile phone, notebook or any computer that has web access.

6) Dropbox

Dropbox allows me sync/backup virtually any type of file as well as share files with others.  I use Dropbox to backup non-Google Doc files, as well as share files with partners & business contacts that do not use Google Docs.  I used to use USB/thumb drives to back-up and transfer info to other computers or devices that I used, but with Dropbox all I have to do it save it to one of my Dropbox folders and it is accessible on all the devices that I set up and/or the web.

7) YouVersion

I read my bible frequently and try to memorize scripture often.  As a Christian, I believe the Bible provides me with direction, encouragement, and answers to many challenges I am faced with.  I want to have it with me at all times for reference and/or to share with other people.  Carrying my physical bible with me is not always practical.  YouVersion’s Bible App allows me to do that.  With the app no matter where I am I can search for specific verses in various translations, take notes, highlight key passages, as well as follow one of the many daily reading plans available.  I use it so much that I even use it, via my mobile phone, each Sunday at church instead of carrying my physical bible.

A major benefit to all the apps listed being cloud-based is that I am no longer tied to a specific device, operating system, or platform.  I currently use a Windows PC, access the web using the Google Chrome browser, and use a mobile phone running Android.  If I want to change to Apple’s iOS, a MacBook, or even a Windows phone I can still use the apps.  Just the same when I decide to purchase a tablet,  all the apps are “mainstream” enough that I will still be able to use them and not adjust my workflow much, if any.

All of them have helped me manage the organized chaos of my life.  I suggest them because I use them and I think they will be around for a while.  New tools and apps come out daily, but some don’t last.  I want to feel that the apps I am using today will be around for me in the next 5, 10, or more years.  I can’t guarantee that, but I believe the tools on this list have a good chance to be.  And the absolute best part of all of these tools and apps is they are all FREE!!!

What tools and apps do you use for productivity and time management?

Feb 22, 2012