How to Stay on Track – 3 Free Internet Productivity Tools I’m Using Right Now

How to Stay on Track – 3 Free Internet Productivity Tools I’m Using Right Now

How to Stay on TrackI wouldn’t say I’m ADD, but I’m certainly not one of those people who was born with the natural ability to stay focused on one project for hours on end. Even when I’m writing articles and blog posts, I tend to jump around – right now, I actually have four different blog posts open that I’m working on simultaneously and I’ll probably finish them all at about the same time.

But it’s okay that I’m somewhat scatterbrained – I have systems in place to ensure that the stuff that actually needs to get done, gets done. If you’ve ever had the sinking feeling that you’d get more done if you could just turn off Cute Overload, read on for a few of the free productivity tools I recommend…

1. Remember the Milk – I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve tried just about every online task list manager that exists today. I’m very particular about the way I record tasks, and I’ve found that Remember the Milk strikes the best balance between being too simple to be useful and too complicated to use regularly. Plus, I love that it has an iGoogle gadget so that I can see a summary of my to-do list every time I open Firefox.

The way you schedule deadlines took me a little time to get used to, but otherwise, I highly recommend it as a bare-bones task manager that includes all the info you need without a bunch of extra details.

2. Leech Block – If I could get back all the hours I’ve wasted checking Facebook, I swear I’d be a millionaire several times over by now… This is where Leech Block comes in handy. It’s a Firefox app that lets me “lock down” certain websites for a period of time I specify so that I can get down to business without the temptation of mindless internet surfing.

I’m way too embarrassed to share the list of sites I have blocked (just a hint – it involves a weirdly high number of US ladies figure skating sites and just about every site on memebase), but I definitely recommend giving the tool a try if you’re having trouble tuning out all of the adorable kitten pictures on the internet and actually getting work done.

Oh – and one super, “level-up” productivity hack you should try right away… Leech Block lets you specify the site that your browser redirects to once you’ve used up the time allotted to each block of sites. Can you see where I’m going here? Set it to Remember the Milk as a not-so-subtle reminder to get back to work.

(A confession – I didn’t come up with that trick on my own, but I can’t remember where I read about putting the two sites together. If it was your site, mad props to you – you’re a productivity genius! Let me know who you are so that I can attribute this tip correctly.)

3. Google Documents – For an internet business owner, I’m weirdly slow to adapt to technological changes. I still don’t have a smartphone (I know, right?!), and it took me years to figure out what “the cloud” is and why I should care. But now that I’ve discovered the power of Google Documents, I’m a total convert.

The reason I love Google Docs is that I always have the projects I’m working on with me. Whether I’m on my home computer, the computer at my day job or killing time at the library, all I have to do is log on to Google and start writing. There’s no waiting for MS Word to load and no wondering where I left the latest update of each document I’m working on. Brilliant!

Do you have any other great (preferably free) productivity tools or tricks to share?  If so, share them in the comments – I’m always on the lookout for more ways to be efficient!

10 Responses to How to Stay on Track – 3 Free Internet Productivity Tools I’m Using Right Now

  1. Jon says:

    Great tools, Sarah! While I am a huge fan of reducing clutter and over-indulgence in tools there are some that are MUSTS.

    Google Docs is fantastic. One of my JV partners and I do weekly talks on Skype while live editing a spreadsheet in Google Docs. We volley ideas and set goals for the week and it’s always a powerful session.

    Remember the Milk looks interesting. I haven’t heard of it before and just checked it out. Could be a great replacement for Desktop Notepad/Excel files for such lists/reminders.

    Thanks again!

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  3. […] a lot of these things can be pretty easy to figure out if you’re good about keeping an up-to-date to do list.  For example, I can log in to my Remember the Milk account and see that every Monday, I try to […]

  4. pen says:

    Pen and paper. Ubiquitus, never runs out of battery and can be shaped in any way depending on how I feel, what I need and/or the fase of the moon. I agree editability/quering of paper can’t go a long way but it makes up for the times you have to (re)start with a …blank sheet.

    I find leechblock lesser than my escaping skills, I prefer to work where there is no internet when I’m not disciplined, which is almost always, but then again that is not a solution on some occasions (such as yours). Another usefull trick is to slash my broadband connection and make do with expensive 3g to restrain myself.

    I don’t have an antilogue for Google docs, perhaps something as ancient as a usb stick.

    And the most ancient productivity tool is starting early, first thing in the morning, working your ass off all day, taking a break to figure out a seemingly optimal path, sleep and then redo.

    Sometimes longer breaks are required though 🙂

  5. […] tasks with Remember the Milk – You guys know I use Remember the Milk to track to-do lists, but did you know that RTM has an iPhone app?!  I’ve already entered […]

  6. Danny Graus says:

    As usual, it helps my spirit to know that there is at least one person out there who’s just like me ;0) I have a picture taped to the side of my computer screen. It’s a picture of a cartoon squirrel with a rifle sight on it and the letters “DTS” in the bottom corner, which stands for ‘Death To Squirrels’. This little mantra represents my insane ability to find any and all distractions around me. Thanks for offering up some practical tools to help me win a few more battles!

  7. I’d give a shot. It’s a simple to do manager that works for me.

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