Time Saving Tools to Increase Productivity

I’ve read a lot in recent months about trying to eliminating the time consuming tasks that overtake your life. Part of it is to make life easier, but more so, it’s to allow you to focus on more important tasks.

For this final post of the year, I want to take you inside my world and show you how I work. Some of these resources are common, and others you may have never heard of. So here are a few of the tools I use to eliminate some of my biggest time eaters, in no particular order:

DropBox: In my opinion, there is no better cloud storage solution than DropBox. It allows me to access my files from my MacBook Pro, iPhone or any other computer through DropBox.com. This is very important because I used to hate making unique to-do lists for tasks I had to do on my MacBook when I got home. Now I can make the changes from virtually anywhere. Right now, I primarily use DropBox to backup my files, but I’m close to using it as my pseudo hard drive. The 22 gigs of storage on my account is plenty for the time being but I will likely look to increase down the line.

TalkTo: This is an app I learned about just a few weeks ago. It basically is a resource assistant and personal assistant rolled into one. What TalkTo does is eliminate the need to call a place of business for information or reservations. Instead, I text that business. What happens then is a TalkTo rep gets the message and contacts the business for me, before texting me back. The best part is it is all free! When I was looking for a six-foot Christmas tree one day after Thanksgiving, I had TalkTo reach out to two area stores to find out what they had in stock. What I received back was a thorough response, identical to what the TalkTo rep heard from the store. The response came back in five minutes, but I didn’t have to leave the dinner table or sit on hold and I had my answer.

OmniFocus: This app is a bit pricey, but for an organizer like myself, it is worth it. OmniFocus is a to-do app that let’s me group all of my tasks by project, dates, locations and more. Since I have it on both my iPad and iPhone, I keep both in sync wherever I go. There is a desktop version, as well. Everyone has their own method of staying on track – the pencil and paper method will always be number one in my book – and this is mine. I try to assign every task a due date, so it doesn’t ever get lost, and receive notifications when the deadline is coming near. While it may have too many tools for some, it is a great help to my life.

IFTTT: This is the one I use the least of the bunch, but it still saves a minute here or there. For anyone familiar with rule based systems, IFTTT is exactly that: If this, then that. The service syncs up with all the popular online resources and social networks to streamline tasks. For instance, if I’m tagged in a Facebook photo, this service will add that photo directly to my DropBox account. If I want to save every tweet my app, LetterSlider, is mentioned in, I can have it write them to Evernote. It’s almost perfect for over-organizers like myself who want things documented.

Evernote: I’m writing this post in Evernote right now. For a similar reason as DropBox, it’s because I’ll be able to access it from my computer, phone or Evernote.com. Evernote is helping me eliminate the stacks of paper in life. I put thoughts, lists, future emails and more here. Plus, it saves all versions, but this is a paid feature. I know I’m not using Evernote to its fullest potential, but when I so I’m sure it will be even more amazing.

Unroll.me: How cluttered is your email box? My personal one is not bad. My work one, however, is a cluster of random mailings. Too bad Unroll.me only currently works with Gmail. What the service does is scan your email box for all the random emails you receive. From Groupon to Macy’s to Kayak, it finds it. You then have the option to unsubscribe or add it to your roll. Here’s where it gets cool: The roll is a daily email that contains all the new messages in your roll. So instead of 20 random messages, you get one to scan. As for what happens to all those actual messages, they are tagged with the Unroll.me label. Set up a Gmail filter and all messages with that label can reside in that folder rather than your inbox.


Do you have a favorite time-saving resource? Let us know!

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