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There are so many new start-ups popping up every day and quite a large number of them try to help us live a more productive life. The question is, which ones should you use? If you end up using too many, they’ll have the opposite effect – that being you’ll end up being less productive!
Productivity sites differ vastly; some offer note taking facilities, others offer to-do lists whilst others provide time tracking facilities. The list of services which try to assist us to be more productive is nearly endless! Here are some of my personal favourites, hand-picked from the jungle of tools and services that are out there.
- My favourite way of storing notes is to set-up a version of MediaWiki onto my domain. MediaWiki is an open-source wiki script which powers sites such as the Wikipedia and Wikia. The advantage of using a wiki is the fact you can easily edit your notes and you can also categorise them and link them together through wikilinks. Another feature which you probably forget is that it also employs a version system, so you may revert to a previous note if you make an error.
- Another way of simply storing notes is to use an online sticky note service such as Webnote (no registration required) or StickyTag. The former service is very minimalistic but not very attractive whilst the latter focuses a lot more on design but requires registration.
- If you require a more complex solution, such as one which allows you to upload and download Word documents you might wish to consider using an online office suite such as Google Docs or ThinkFree.
- Many sites provide to-do lists, but my favourite has to be Orchestrate. The site is aesthetically attractive with plenty of Ajax and allows you to have multiple task lists each with different tasks on. Orchestrate is now part of 8apps, which also includes three other applications.
- Nutshell is a site which has a simple to-do list and note taking facility. It also has a search box. This isn’t anything exciting but it is quite straight-forward to use. It used to be much more unique when it was Wallnote which was designed for you to add an online to-do list to your desktop via. ActiveDesktop. However, this service was stopped as Vista has no ActiveDesktop support. If you do wish to have an ActiveDesktop to-do list you could consider simply uploading a HTML file to your website, updating it and putting it on your desktop through ActiveDesktop.
- Remember The Milk is a feature packed to-do list manager. Not only does it allow you to have multiple lists, but you can put deadlines in and view tasks on your mobile. Also, it allows you to place tasks onto a Google Map.
Time tracking/project management
- Basecamp is probably the most popular time tracking/project management tools but charges up to $150/month. They do offer a free package, but that restricts you to one project. On premium package, 37signals’ Basecamp offer file storage space too which ranges from 250MB to 50GB depending on the pricing plan.
- 14Dayz.com is a time tracking site which is cheaper than Basecamp but still restricts people greatly on their free package with a maximum of three projects. It doesn’t offer as many project management features, such as file storage or chat, sadly.
- SlimTimer.com is a quick and light-weight tool for time tracking and making timesheets. Unlike others, it includes a stop-watch and works through a to-do list. While it can’t be used for extensive project management, it’s great for tracking simple everyday tasks.
- I have to admit when it comes down to calendars I’m old school. I use my PocketPC to manage it, which probably isn’t very wise in the event it got stolen etc! The most popular online calendar is probably Google Calendar. Being a Google product, it is of high quality and only requires a Google account. You can even have it installed on your domain through Google Apps!
- Yahoo! offers a ‘competing’ product even though it is much more web 1.0! The interface isn’t thrilling nor does it use Ajax like GCal. However, it integrates with software like Outlook and Lotus and PDAs running PocketPC or Palm operating systems.
- Kiko offers a similar calendar product to GCal. It uses Ajax and supports things such as RSS, vCards and SMS. They also offer an API.
When it comes to Web 2.0 tools on the market that help you manage your life, there’s a very wide range of choice. In the end, it comes down to is what you as a user can get most familiar with and fit into your everyday life — it may be the worst thing in the world, but if you can use it to get productive, that’s all that matters.