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:
- From in the program on any of your devices.
- Email yourself items to your specific Remember The Milk email address
- Tweet the task to @rememberthemilk and it will show up in your task list
- Using the Gmail widget
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:
- 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.
- 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