4 Tools for Increasing Productivity

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If you are reading this, you are probably aware of the importance of productivity. In today’s day and age a boost in productivity can help a long way in our personal and professional lives. Better productivity helps us adapt to expectations from a fast changing world. In this blog I share 4 tools that can help you improve your productivity.

Google Tasks

Author David Allen of Getting Things Done says that the most important aspect of improving productivity is to get your tasks and goals out of your mind and into a trusted system. For me Google Tasks has become the trusted system. It helps me manage my day to day tasks as well as broader goals. Since our work is no longer confined to our office desk, it is important to have a trusted task management system that is accessible 24×7.

Why do I recommend Google Tasks?

  1. There is a choice of apps on various app stores that cover various platforms and devices.
  2. Google provides browser extension for Google Tasks. So I can use while working from different computers.
  3. The data is stored on Google servers even though I can use any of the apps as the front-end.
  4. Most apps support reminders and multiple lists for better organization of tasks.

My recommendation is to have at least two lists. Keep one list of tasks for unprioritized bucket list of every think you want to accomplish. Then as you plan your day and week ahead, move tasks into a scheduled list where you must set deadline for each of the goals. I strongly encourage you to write as specific goals as possible.

Buffer (bufferapp.com)

Do you share updates very often on the social media? Do you read and share content from different apps to your social network? If so Buffer can definitely help you be more productive. The punchline for Buffer is that it is “a smarter way to share on social media”.

How does Buffer Work?

Once you sign up for a Buffer account (you can sign in with Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts as well), you add your social media accounts to Buffer. Then instead of posting individual updates on each social network, you post it to Buffer and let it broadcast the update to all the configured social network accounts.

Why do I recommend Buffer?

  1. I spend a good amount of time reading online articles. My main use for buffer is to share useful blogs and articles to my social network. Buffer is available as a smartphone app as well as browser extension. This allows me to use Buffer on different platforms.
  2. Buffer lets me schedule the updates. Even though I spend more time reading on weekends, I buffer and schedule my updates. Buffer broadcasts these updates at the configured periodic interval.
  3. It is very simple and intuitive to use. Just post your update to Buffer and it will take care of the rest.
  4. Lastly, for individual users (low to moderate updates) the free account is sufficient. And they have a paid account for unlimited usage at $10/month.

Dropbox (dropbox.com)

Dropbox is a cloud storage and file sharing service that gives you 2GB of free space for individual users. As with any cloud storage, your data is accessible any time and anywhere.

How do I use it?

  1. I mostly use this for taking work home. Many a times, if I have some unfinished work (documents, spread-sheets etc) in the office, I just save it on the Dropbox folder on the office computer. Once I reach home, I use my home computer (usually much better than office computer) to complete the unfinished work. This gives me a tremdous boost of productivity.
  2. My online book shelf – While we all have many documents and books in our digital collection, we probably are interested in reading a few of them at any given point. I store my complete collection of digital books on other storage services. But the ones that are high priority, I store them on Dropbox.

Why do I recommend Dropbox?

There are several alternatives to Dropbox such as Google Drive, Sky Drive, Sugar Sync and Ubuntu One. While Dropbox gives 2GB by default, other give 5GB free. Still I recommend Dropbox because of the following reasons:

  1. Dropbox apps are available for widest variety of platforms (mobile, desktops etc). It is available on Ubuntu as well where the only other option is Ubuntu One.
  2. Great user interface. It is as simple as it can get. So wonderful tool for first time users. On all platforms and devices the user interface is neat and clean. Note: I have not tried on iPad yet.
  3. Performance is great as well. I am using multiple cloud storage accounts and I find Dropbox to have really good performance (even better than Google Drive).

Evernote (evernote.com)

Last but definitely not the least is a widely used cloud based data capturing software. Evernote can store notes, web pages, photos and many other digital formats. The main difference from a conventional cloud storage is that in Evernote all your data is organized into notebooks instead of folders etc. You can also tag your content across notebooks.

How do I use it?

  1. Web Clipper is probably my favorite feature in Evernote. I use Evernote’s Clipper to extract the most relevant sections of a web page and store it for future reference. You can clip out Ads, sidebar etc and hence store the content that is most important to you.
  2. I use Evernote to record my learning. In meetings, discussions or while reading if I come across nuggets of information which contribute to my learning, I use Evernote to capture them.
  3. I prepare for meetings and discussion by jotting down ideas on Evernote.

Why do I recommend Evernote?

  1. The recurring theme of multiple platform and device support applies to Evernote as well. On Ubuntu the support is fairly limited and not that great.
  2. Evernote is well integrated with different mobile operating systems and the mobile browser. So content saving is very easy.
  3. The Clipper extension to desktop browser is really useful.
  4. The user interface is very nice and easy to use on all the supported platforms.
  5. The monthly free usage limit of 60MB may seem very less. But in my long usage of Evernote, I have never crossed it even once. So rest assured.