6 Free Tools to Organize Your Digital Life
We’ve become extreme information consumers in today’s online world. Mobile adds to it as we read and save information to read later on our phones and tablets. For some of us, it’s our job, navigating social media and information sites. What’s a digital hoarder to do? Here are seven favorite tools that I use daily to help me stay organized and on top of my digital life.
The grandaddy of them all, Evernote’s goal is to be the repository for your digital life. And they’re doing a good job of it. I compose blog posts, scan receipts in, jot down my thoughts and goals, take notes at meetings, the list goes on. Information is saved as you type and synched across devices and online.
2. Google Docs
For functionality beyond Evernote, I use Google Docs. For spreadsheets, presentations (PowerPoint), and word processing. And I can quickly share (as a PDF or retaining the original format) and easily collaborate on all documents types.
3. Google Reader
Can you imagine having to visit all of your favorite blogs, websites and news outlets every morning to see what’s new and if anything interesting strikes your fancy? Me either. Instead I subscribe to RSS feeds and quickly scan the headlines in Google Reader several times a day. I keep my total subscriptions under 150 or else it gets unwieldy, and unproductive. So if I discover that a blog is no longer putting out content or publishing less than useful content, I ruthlessly unsubscribe.
4. Buffer App
I started using Buffer App last Summer and it’s become an invaluable tool. After installing the browser extension, I simply click on the Buffer icon anytime I come across a post, article or web page that I want to share on Twitter and it “buffers” it to go out at a scheduled time. You can set up the scheduled time – like once every hour for 12 hours (12 tweets a day) in the dashboard. Buffer integrates with a number of other applications including Google Reader so as you come across a post to share in the Reader, click on the Buffer extension and it’ll add it to the queue.
5. Pocket (formerly Read It Later) and Instapaper
Both Instapaper and Pocket allow you to save webpages to read later. Instapaper strips out the images for a quick and easy text-only read on your computer. The mobile app is $4.99 and well worth the cost, but since we’re covering free tools here, I’ll give the edge to Pocket which provides additional functionality – saving articles, blog posts, videos and web pages for later viewing on your computer. And it comes with a free mobile app so you can read the saved articles on your smartphone or tablet.
These tools have one thing in common – they’re cloud based, allowing you to access them anywhere and on a range of devices. But what about the rest of the files on your computer? Like photographs, work documents saved in MS Word, and PDFs. That’s where Dropbox comes in. And it’s as easy as pie (or Sunday morning) – simply install the app on your computer, assign a Dropbox folder and drag the files over.
The great thing about using these tools is that I never have to worry about my computer crashing or running out of space. It’s all stored in the cloud, on the apps, and in many cases, on my computer. I’ve just touched on the functionality of these tools. The best way to learn more is to use them and create your own enhanced productivity work flow.