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5 Productivity & Security Tools I Use Manage My Time & Protect My Business

By Leslie Samuel
41 Comments

Time Management – It’s the thing that almost everybody wants to become better at. The fact is, there are only 24 hours in a day. If you’re someone like me, those 24 hours are split between work, family, friends, internet marketing and relaxing. That’s a whole lot of stuff to fit into 24 hours.

Being somewhat of an internet geek, I look to the web to help solve my time management problems, and I’ve found some valuable resources that help me on a daily basis. Some of them also help with security. What’s great is that most of the resources I use are free. So here goes my list of magical time management tools…

Tool #1: Remember The Milk

Such a weird name, but a tool I like very much. It goes like this – Your wife asks you to pick up some milk on the way back from work. You go to work and on the way back, you think to yourself – “I feel like I’m forgetting something”. You reach home only to realize that your wife is sitting at the table with a dry bowl of cereal and crying her eyes out and screaming – “You never listen to me!”. In steps Remember The Milk and your marriage is happy again.

Ok, sorry for all the drama. RTM is basically a to-do list, but not just any ordinary to-do list. It’s a program that allows you to sync your to-do list between your home computer, laptop, work computer, smartphone, and any other computer-like device. It’s very convenient because it’s available everywhere, and there are multiple ways in which you can enter items:

It basically makes it really convenient to add items regardless of which method you prefer. It can also send you email, IM and SMS reminders at specific times so that you never forget to do something.

RTM is Free to use on your computer, but if you want some of the more advanced features like being able to sync it with your smartphone, you need to upgrade at $25 per year (very worth it).

There are two ways I use Remember The Milk:

  1. Every night before I go to sleep, I think about the things I need to accomplish the next day. These are entered into Remember The Milk and then I check them off as I do them.
  2. During the day, if there’s something I remember that I need to do, I usually enter it into RTM first so that I can keep track of what needs to be done during the day.

Tool #2: Evernote

Over the summer, I was taking some education classes for my Master’s in Education. Because the classes are the entire semester condensed into 4 weeks, they are pretty intense, and there are a lot of papers to write. Well, I was writing one paper in particular and after doing a significant amount of writing, the program crashed and for some reason, I was not able to retrieve it. I know what you are thinking – Was it a PC? No, it was a mac, and yes, it failed me in my moment of need. Yes, even Macs aren’t perfect.

I was determined that this would never happen again. After doing some research, I found out about Evernote, and my life has never been the same (once again, I apologize for being so dramatic).

Evernote allows you to capture your thoughts, ideas, pictures and a bunch of other things into the Evernote program and sync it between just about any devices you own. Actually, I’m typing this blog post in Evernote right now and as I’m typing, it’s continually being backed up to the Evernote server. If I leave my computer at home – no worries. I have access to everything I typed on my iPhone and when I’m at work, I can pick up where I left off by opening Evernote on my computer there. It has virtually eliminated my worry of ever losing a document. It even allows you to email notes to yourself.

Evernote is free to use and free to install on all of your devices. However, you can get an upgraded account for $5 per month that gives you up to 500MB upload per month (as opposed to 40MB with the free version), the ability to add any kind of file, the ability to collaborate with others within evernote, and some enhanced security features.

I use the Free version and it does more than I need it to. Since I use it primarily for text documents, I’m currently using only 70KB of my monthly 40MB, with my 156 documents so far, which shows up as 0%.

Whenever I’m typing something I do it first in Evernote, regardless of what it is. If I need to make it look pretty, I take it out of Evernote and pull it into Pages (the mac alternative to Microsoft Word), do my formatting and I’m good to go.

Tool #3: Sugarsync

After loosing that one document, I also had a relatively brand new external hard drive fail on me. I lost a lot of valuable stuff on that hard drive, even though that hard drive was a “special” external hard drive that was built for rough handling. This got me even more paranoid and I started looking into something to minimize the stress of wondering if my hard drive will die.

I looked into a number of cloud-based backup services and eventually decided to go with Sugarsync, for some of the same reasons why I went with the other two programs. It allows me specify certain folders on my computer that I want to continually back up. Anytime I make a change to any of the files in those folders, those changes are automatically synced with their cloud servers, and I have access to those files from any computer anywhere in the world, and also from my iphone.

With Sugarsync, it’s set it and forget it. I specify what I want to sync when I first installed the program, and I never have to do anything again. It does all the work in the background.

Tool #4: Lastpass

By the time you finish reading this, you will probably think that I’m the most paranoid guy on the internet. A few months ago I had an IM conversation with a guy who told me about an experience he had speaking with someone via IM that wanted to show him how unsecured the internet can be. Within a few minutes, the guy he was speaking to was able to tell him the password to his email account, online bank account and some other personal info. I’ve also had a few incidents with people hacking into some of my accounts. It seems like the more your online business grows, the more you open up yourself to people with bad motives.

So I decided to leave my security to the professionals. I no longer determine what my passwords are, nor do I write them down. I use lastpass to manage all of my passwords and account information. This info is encrypted during every transfer which virtually eliminates (or at least reduces significantly) the chances that my personal info will be compromised.

With the free version, you can use Lastpass to manage all of your passwords, credit card info and personal information on all of your computers. For $1 a month, you can upgrade and have lastpass on also on your mobile devices like your iPhone, iPad or other smart phone, and it also comes with a number of other cool features.

Tool #5: Google Docs

Yep, good ‘ol Google Docs. Anytime I’m collaborating with someone by exchanging documents, spreadsheets or anything of that sort, Google docs is the one I turn to. It makes it very easy for multiple people to work on the same documents, to share financial information with partners, and do all that fun Collaboration stuff.

So there you have it – the tools I use. Hopefully they can be of some use for you.

Are there certain tools you use that help you be more productive? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Leslie – The Freebie Guy

About Leslie Samuel

Leslie Samuel is a blogger who believes that the internet can change the world. He runs an Interactive Biology website that Makes Biology Fun and teaches people how to grow their online business in his Learning With Leslie podcast. He also runs a Become A Blogger - A blog dedicated to helping people Change The World with their blogs. Follow Leslie Samuel on Twitter.

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41 Comments

  • Some of those tools I’ve never heard about. I like the idea of SugarSync especially if it does it automatically. Great post Yaro and thanks for sharing such great resources.

  • Nice list, Leslie! I cannot survive without Lastpass, I use it everyday. I also use Google Docs often, especially when I’m working with my outsources.

    I will take a look at Sugarsync, love the idea.

  • Have you heard of DropBox? If not, you should check it out ASAP. :-) Otherwise, great list! I personally prefer SimpleNote over EverNote, but both are great apps.

  • Great list of products, i ahve used some of them, will give the others a try, Sugar Sync sounds good.
    One additional product I would recommend also is Drop Box.

  • Thank You Leslie….great post. I love how the universe works and gives us what we need when we need it. My laptop is on her last legs (new one is on wishlist for 2011) so desperately looking for some kind of hard drive back up (I looked in local shops and budget doesnt stretch that far, but I would of found £ because my work is my life) so real glad to read your recommendations above. Thank you.
    And special thanks to Yaro for your free ebook “How to start an internet business”…I am new to the blog/internet scene and love your emphasis on the inner game, enthusiasm, self believe, trust, patience, persistent…all real good core values to build a life business. Have a blessed day and thank you both. Namaste Nx

  • I’d like tool number 5 which is google docs. I can’t live without it as I need it almost everyday because it’s convenient and you can access your documents or spreadsheet anytime of the day plus the auto-saved feature.

  • How can you be sure that lastpass will not use your info?

    • They make a pretty big deal of security. They definitely know more about it than I do. Your information is encrypted anytime there is a transfer of info, using some top-level encryption. I trust them more than I trust Windows :)

  • Great list of smart ideas Leslie, I’ve actually been searching for some more security as I’ve also had some security problems lately, so thanks a ton for the suggestion!

    Jeff

  • Great post Leslie! I am a Google Docs addict :-) You definitely have the discipline needed to master your time – a crucial (and difficult!) component to use along with these tools.

    Cheers!

    - Devin

  • I have Evernote on my iTouch and I love it! Helps keep me organized when I’m on the go and can’t carry around my laptop. I use the free version and it’s more than enough.

  • I’ll add three:

    http://www.preyproject.com. It’s free and it will help you find your laptop
    (possibly smart phone) if it’s stolen. I also listed the laptop on http://www.juststolen.net.
    The handiest tool (free) is http://www.hottnotes.com – desktop sticky notes. This is the best of a few that I’ve looked at.

    ART

  • There are some awesome tools in this list. Lastpass is something I use all the time. I think if I lost it I’d be locked out. I like remember the milk and google docs are just excellent. What would we be without productivity tools?

    Terry

  • I’ve read about most of them, and will definitely start using them.

    I am just not quite sure how evernote can make my life more easy…..
    And I am also a bit paranoid of letting lastpass handle all my passwords….

    will start with RTM and sugarsync

  • An alternative to Lastpass is 1Password. I’m actually analyzing it right now to do a comparison. It’s actually looking quite promising.

  • Thanks for recommending these tools, Leslie. I’d been using Google Docs for awhile but these others are new to me. Going to try out Remember The Milk first. And Macs aren’t perfect? Who would’ve thought? :)

  • Jon

    Evernote seems very interesting, I had similar problems with my PC… and off course google docs is great as well, you don’t need MS Word or excel any more!

  • Ed Kemper

    Nice post. I use Google Docs and Evernote from your list. I app I really love and recommend is Instapaper. Instapaper allows you to tag articles to read later.

    When I run down all the RSS feeds I subscribe to, plus the newsletters, I can skim right down them and Instapaper the ones I want to read later.

    I can then read my news right from my iPad, or any other system.

  • I don’t want to use programs any more that save passwords especially on line ones. I used one once and on the second day of using it, my old site got hacked. Seemed like coincidence to me. The rest I will take a look at because I could do with some time management tools.

  • I am very disorganised (which is probably why I don’t make as much money as I should) and I think Remember The Milk could be the perfect tool to help me. :)

  • These are some fantastic tools I’ve been using last pass since I can’t remember…..and Google docs is a must. I’m going to take a look at remember the milk because I can never keep everything I need to do in one place. Thanks for the tips~!

  • Hi leslie, another great interesting post. I was aware of evernote, but not of sugarsync, they both really appeal to me after my laptop crashed about 4 months ago. I do back everything up now, but these 2 options would be great because my back ups are at home.
    Will check out Last pass also.
    Yaro, you should change this blog to the Yaro and Leslie Blog. ( Meant in a good way)
    Pete

  • Humm A friend of mine actually suggested to me about “Dropbox” and now that I am seeing your suggestion for Sugarsync, I am kind of liking the 5 GB free that they give you! So much better than the 2GB provided by Dropbox! Gonna have to tell him of my discovery, ahaha! :D

    -Jean

    • Why not try both as I am doing. That is 7 GB back up free.

  • Awesome list Leslie. I’ve been looking for a tool like Evernote. I will give it a try bro. Thanks a lot for sharing. keep rockin!

  • I never heard about these above tools. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Thank you for the great post Leslie,
    You are right that Anyone can’t do Time Management easily without a lots of knowledge and exprience or site like these.
    I personally liked Evernote and also using it from a while.

  • Are there any books or suggestions for time management. I prob shouldnt be on the internet! That could be one issue! But, I have a 20 month old child and work and I also want to include going to the gym. I feel like there arent enough hours in the day? Maybe there are but Im doing things slow and relaxing rather than doing what I need to do. Any suggestions? Stories? Thanks!

  • Hey yaro great work done after collecting these productive and security tools and posted here on this article because we the bloggers and webmasters always seeks to have working with all on the stress less functioning tools.

  • Leslie,

    I personally use Evernote and I agree that it is a good way to quickly backup documents and small pieces of text. I appreciate how you shared the ways you apply each tool in your daily activities.

    Julius

  • Leslie as usual once again you have won the battle. These are not only good tips rather these are keys of our treasure locks. These keys give us the feeling of protection.
    Thanks
    Saif

  • Super list of useful tools, Leslie. Evernote, in particular, seems very useful as far as linking between the many different devices we all use today. Good to see GoogleDocs in there as well. Still use it regularly.

  • When you are not executing all of your tasks on your own I can recommend Organisemee (www.organisemee.com). In Organisemee you can assign tasks to your contacts. When they accept the tasks, this task it part of your contacts task now, and he needs to accomplish it. For sure this works also vice versa – you can get tasks assigned.

    Also Organisemee offers a strong reminder function – even with free SMS reminders.

    This task management / todo list application also has an even cleaner interface and and is also easy to use like RTM.

  • I live by Evernote and have been using Google Docs for a while. Just learned to love Remember the Milk. Had some issues syncing my things together with my Blackberry a few months back, so I haven’t 100% recovered from the “damage” there.

  • Hello Leslie
    great post by the way .
    I am familiar with google docs but only just getting to know the others you listed.
    I have some experience with drop box though but will try out sugarsync and evernote . By the way your blog is awesome leslie ! and Yaro you rock ! (you really are the blog mastermind )
    I have been following you closely for a while now and iIcan feel my online business savvy growing in leaps and bounds .
    Thanks for giving out so much .Looking forward to earning more from my blog now
    cheers

  • I use the evernote app on my iPhone/iPad, it’s great for jotting down ideas when you’re on the go.

  • very interesting subject , great post.

  • Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!

  • Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any recommendations? Thanks!

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