Free Software to Make You More Productive

Photo by Carl HeyerdahL, License

As our lives get busier and busier, we find ourselves running out of time to do any more. Therefore we must find ways to achieve more in the time we have by increasing our productivity.

Technology has already helped to achieve a lot of this. A computer on every desk, a smartphone in every pocket, and the Internet just about everywhere we go make it possible to communicate and do work just about anywhere. There are many other ways we can squeeze even more work out of our time—a lot of them using tools and software. Here is a pick of some of the best.

Pomodoro Timer

We would all like it if we could just focus whenever and wherever we needed to, but our modern lives are filled with more distractions than would have been thought possible just a few years ago. Opening a browser to start doing some research often turns into hours of scrolling through social networks or a lot of money spent at one of your favourite ecommerce stores.

One solution to get this focus back is a Pomodoro Timer. This is a tool that allows you to set a countdown timer that usually starts at 35 minutes. Whilst the clock is ticking you should be focusing on work, and once the timer has run out you are permitted a short break of around 5 minutes. This helps to create discipline by rewarding work with short periods of rest to browse the internet, scroll through social networking sites, read the news, or play a mobile game that allows you to complete a round in just a couple of minutes, such as a themed slots game. A whole range of pomodoro timers can be found online, with web-based timers, browser extensions, and mobile apps.

Time Tracking Software

You may also find that using a piece of time tracking software like Toggl may help you to be more productive, as it will show you how long you are spending on specific tasks. Applications like Toggl can be used as a browser extension or via a mobile app, both of which are free. This can be a “marmite” solution; some people enjoy the pressure of a timer, whilst others find it makes them more stressed. You should therefore find a solution that works for you.

Manage Your Tasks With Trello

Manage Your Tasks With Trello

Photo by Kelly Sikkema, Public Domain

Trello is a task and project management application that takes the traditional to-do list, reinvents it, gives it a face lift, and teaches it many new tricks. Trello lets you collaborate with others, helping you to share your workload and stay up to date with the progress of tasks.

Instead of just lists, Trello creates a digital version of moving cards or Post-It notes on a whiteboard. It gives you “boards”, each with columns. Each task is a “card” that can be dragged from column to column, helping you see the progress of each task. Within the card, you can create a traditional to-do list, upload files, and communicate with your co-collaborators. This means that all of the communication for the task is kept within the card, so you never lose information.

Dropbox

Remember the days when you had to share files by email or copy them to a USB memory stick, CD, or even a floppy disc? Keeping track of versions would get difficult as multiple people began making edits—so much so that large organisations had to employ people to manage this task full time. Dropbox removes this problem.

Whether you’re working on your own or within a team of people, Dropbox can make you much more productive. When installed on your computer, Dropbox gives you a folder where you can save your files. Everything within this folder is backed up to “the cloud”. The benefit of this is that you can access your files from any internet-connected device, whether it be your phone, tablet, or another computer. Sharing files is accomplished by simply adding another user to a particular file or folder or sending them a link to it. Once someone has access to the folder, any changes you make will be automatically received by them, meaning no more emails or full-time Document Controllers. A free version of Dropbox gives you access to 2GB of storage, whilst various paid subscriptions provide as much as 2TB.

There are many ways we can make ourselves more productive by using free software tools. This is particularly important in our busy, modern lives where each minute is precious. These tools will help you collaborate, work from any device, and stay focused on the task at hand.

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