Living an uncommon life requires the right tools because there are only so many hours in a day.

The good news is creating the life you want is not a matter of talent but rather how effectively and efficiently you can work toward your most audacious objectives. You can’t do everything on your own – and why would you want to when there are ways (many of them free) to do more with less time and effort?

Below are some of the tools I personally use along with others that might suit your own lifestyle goals and needs. This is just a very small snapshot of the tools that can take your productivity and lifestyle to a whole new level. To get one of the most comprehensive lists of tools available on the web, be sure to get a copy of Be Uncommonly Productive Part 4 (coming soon).

To an uncommon life,

kent healy

 

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Time & Task Management:

Wunderlist: Wunderlist makes it ridiculously simple to organize the many tasks and projects you have underway as well as those you wish to tackle in the future. Create as many lists and sub-points (to-do items) as necessary. Keep track of progress and priorities with reminders, notifications, notes, and red stars (for the most important items). You can create a new task for Wunderlist from your email inbox and mail entire lists to your inbox (or someone else’s). One of the greatest features is its ability to share your tasks and lists by email or invite your friends, colleagues or co-workers to work with you on a shared list.

 

Asana is an excellent outstanding and task management program for small and mid-sized teams. If you’re looking for something like Wunderlist, but need more capabilities, this could be your ticket to uncommon productivity. Frankly, I can’t imagine running my businesses without Asana. Asana does many things, here are a few: Create different ‘work-spaces’ for like projects. Decide who can see certain projects and tasks. Reorder and move items quickly.  Tags tasks with descriptions for easy searching and organizing. Create new tasks from email, and get immediate notification of status changes to tasks you’re ‘following.’ Reply to add a comment to the task in the task’s activity feed. Add or ‘assign’ a coworker to a task and they’ll be able to see the history of the the task or project to instantly get up to speed. See your team’s tasks and priorities with one click. Collaborate with your friends, your clubs, and your work team while also keeping private work spaces for you personally. Use Asana on the go with your phone or tablet. Sync your due dates in Asana to Google Calendar, Apple iCal, and Microsoft Outlook.

  • Platform: Web browser (PC & Mac), iPhone, Android, and iPad
  • Cost: Free
  • www.asana.com

 

Chrometa is an application designed to capture work time without manual data entry. The product can also track time away from your computer through automated and manual timers and reminders. You can categorize time by client/project, capture phone/meeting time, reconcile your time, create reports or invoices, export data, and sync data. Chrometa tracks all of your activity while on the computer including emails, web sites visits, and applications in use. This is extremely helpful when you want to know where exactly your time goes each day. You can sort your activities by application or tool, and Chrometa does it all automatically so there is no need to micromanage it.

  • Platform: Web – install to computer (PC and Mac)
  • Cost: Free trial, plans start at $19/month per user. Desktop-only version is free.
  • www.app.chrometa.com

RescueTime is a tool that allows you to easily understand and optimize how you and your team spend your time and attention. One of the most important things about RescueTime is that there is no data entry. You install a small application on your computer or your company’s computers, and the program tracks the software programs and websites that are actively being used. You can set up customized alerts and other rules that can nudge you when you’re spending too much time in certain programs or on certain websites. You can also specify ‘focus times’ that disable certain programs or websites to avoid distractions. You can also track offline time such as meetings and phone calls.

  • Platform: Application to install on your computer
  • Cost: Free Lite Plan, or 14-day free trial for Personal Pro or Organizational use
  • www.rescuetime.com

EveryTimeZone: If you need a quick and very easy way to get a snapshot of multiple time zones simultaneously, this is your new best friend. Avoid number crunching and mind-bending as you try to calculate different time zones. Just visit their website and see for yourself.

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Email:

Boomerang: After installation, you can write an email and schedule it to be sent automatically at the time you desire with the ‘Send Later’ button. There is an easy-to-use calendar time selector and text box that understands language such as “next Monday.” This is a priceless tool if you want a cleaner inbox but don’t want to lose track of important messages. You can use the Boomerang button to send messages out of your inbox to be returned when it suits you. There are also times you may need to follow up with someone within a specific time frame after sending a message. You can use Boomerang to be reminded if nobody replies to your email within a set time. This way, messages won’t slip through the cracks and you’ll never forget to follow up with people.

  • Platform: Gmail and mobile (iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry)
  • Cost: Free for 10 uses per month / Personal: $4.99 per month /Professional: $14.99 per month
  • www.boomeranggmail.com

Rapportive shows everything about your contacts right inside your Gmail inbox. It replaces the adverts on the right hand side with the sender’s biographical and links to their social media accounts. You can also store personal and private notes about each contact within the app. You can immediately see what people look like, where they’re based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests and you can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more.

  • Platform: Gmail – Free, add-on for Firefox, Safari, Mailplane, and Chrome
  • Cost: Free
  • www.rapportive.com

Unsubscribe.com does more than you think. It’s basic but real convenient function allows you to easily remove and unsubscribe from unwanted emails with one click. This helps keep your inbox free of clutter. One of the other great things it does is protect you while connecting to third-party apps. Before installing other applications, you can view the developer’s reputation to protect yourself from phishing and virus scams. Unsubscribe.com can act as a secondary email firewall. It rates each new app you may choose to install and gives you the ability to choose to cancel installation if you wish. There is no detailed account setup required.

ConstantContact-logoConstantContact is what helps me create slick looking e-newsletters and manage my database of subscribers. ConstantContact provides email marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and social media marketing to help build rapport with your readers or customers. It also provides detailed user analytics.

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Business:

DropBox is one of my favorite applications of all time. I literally could not lead a life of constant travel without it. Essentially, it’s a service that lets you store documents, photos, videos, every form of data from anywhere and share them easily. DropBox is a file synchronization/backup service that can replace your standard ‘Documents’ folder on your computer. Everything saved in your DropBox folder and subfolders on your computer will automatically synchronize with ‘the cloud’ (DropBox’s server) creating back-up files for retrieval on any computer with internet access. But it gets better… You can also share selected folders with other DropBox users (friends, fellow students, or colleagues) based anywhere in the world. What happens when one shared user makes a change to one or more of the docs in the shared folder? The changes sync with the DropBox server and then subsequently sync with everyone sharing that folder or document. This allows each person to have the most updated document or file at all times (well, when connected to the internet). With DropBox there is no need to remember to upload or download the latest copy or to save files to your thumbdrive or CD/DVD. Anywhere you have internet you will have access to everything you need – even if you’re not using your computer (such as visiting an internet café abroad).

  • Platform: PC and Mac. Mobile app available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry
  • Cost: Free for 2GB then $9.99 per month for 50GB
  • www.dropbox.com

Evernote is the ultimate life organizer. Their tagline, ‘remember everything,’ is very appropriate. Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your notable life using your computer, phone, and the web. With Evernote, all of your notes, web clips, files and images are made available on every device and computer you use. Save anything and everything digital. Snap a photo, record audio and save it to your Evernote account. You can also save webpages to your Evernote account with nifty browser extensions, which will archive all of the text, images, and links associated with that specific webpage. Share your notes and collaborate on projects with friends, colleagues and classmates. Keep all of your itineraries, confirmations, scanned travel documents, maps, and plans, and much more in Evernote. Best of all, Evernote makes everything in your database searchable. With text and audio recognition, you can search many forms of data, including pictures, to find what you want, when you want it.

  • Platform: PC and Mac. Mobile app available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry
  • Cost: Free for 40MB Monthly Upload or $5.00 per month or $45.00 per year
  • www.evernote.com

Grasshopper is specifically designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses that want a telecommunication system like the big boys have without the cost and hassles. Grasshopper provides virtual phone system that can help you stay organized while handling many incoming calls. You can listen to the caller’s voice before answering (or not), create multiple extensions, and have certain calls forwarded to your home, office, or cell. You can also opt to receive voicemails and faxes via email. No hardware to purchase. Simply manage your Grasshopper account online.

  • Platform: Any internet browser. Your own phones are required.
  • Cost: From $9.95 to $19.99 a month
  • www.grasshopper.com

FreshBooks is an online software service that allows you to focus on your work, not your work, not your paperwork. They deliver fast and simple invoicing and time tracking services that help you manage your business. FreshBooks calls these ‘unaccounting’ services. These include: ease of use, time tracking, expense tracking, recurring billing, online payment collection, design and style that helps your invoices look professional (think Fortune 500), full management of your books without an accountant, secure and encrypted databases, information back up, availability 24/7 from any computer with Internet access. There are also Add-ons available that connect to your FreshBooks account, allowing you to create a workflow catered to your business mail invoices through the U.S. Post, and support tickets.

  • Platform: PC and Mac. Mobile app available for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile phones.
  • Cost: Free basic account. Free premium trial. Paid packages start at only $19.95/month.
  • www.freshbooks.com

Elance is an excellent website forum and worldwide marketplace for posting various projects, products, and services you would like to outsource. It’s also a place you can use your existing skills to look for short-term employment opportunities. As an employer, you post a description of what you need and Elance  members can bid on the project and explain why they are the best person for the job. The Elance  system has a helpful rating system that allows employers to write reviews of those they worked with. Elance also makes use of an escrow account so you can ensure the work is satisfactory before releasing your funds.

  • Platform: Web
  • Cost: It is completely free to register, post jobs, and hire on Elance. Elance makes money when the work is delivered and payments are made through Elance. Learn more here [http://help.elance.com/entries/34733-how-much-does-elance-cost]
  • www.elance.com

iphone_app_logooDesk is very similar to Elance but typically attracts workers willing to accept lesser pay. Prospective employers can post jobs for free, and freelance workers (“contractors”) may create profiles and bid on jobs, also for free. The company collects 10 percent of the payment. Payments are made through oDesk, which handles many bookkeeping tasks for the transaction. In addition to the marketplace aspect and the payment/bookkeeping services, the company uses collaborative software, “oDesk Team,” that allows employers to see a provider’s progress (via screen-sharing and screenshots) while he or she is billing time.

  • Platform: Web
  • Cost: Contractors get 90% of the advertised rates and oDesk retains the remaining 10%. This is true for all payments, whether they are hourly rates, fixed price jobs or bonuses. oDesk does not charge registration, membership, job posting, application, or interview fees. Learn more here.
  • www.odesk.com

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Communication:

skype-logo1Skype allows users to communicate with one another by voice, video, and instant messaging over the internet. Users can call other Skype users worldwide for free. Phone calls may also be placed to traditional landline and mobile telephones for a small fee via a debit-based user account system. Skype is also great for videoconferencing, group conference calling, group instant messaging, screensharing, and file transfers.

  • Platform: PC and Mac. Mobile app available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry
  • Cost: Free Skype to Skype calling. Small per minute fee for calling landlines and mobile phones.
  • www.skype.com

Mootly: Share comments, ideas, pictures, and other files with a specific group without the hassles and confusion of long group email threads. Easily create new topics, or ‘moots,’ and invite people via email. Create multiple moots to organize different projects or teams. Moots are private so only invited people have access. Add or remove someone at any time.

MeetingBurnerLogoMeeting Burner is the best free screensharing program I am aware of on the market. It’s not only free, but it’s also faster than a lot of the expensive screensharing services out there such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc. They have also integrated conference lines and Skype, real-time instant messaging with participants, one-touch recording and sharing, as well as user analytics. This is priceless for teams working remotely.

Dabbleboard is an online collaboration application that’s centered around the many diverse uses of a typical whiteboard. With a new type of drawing interface that’s actually easy and fun to use, Dabbleboard lets you share complicated ideas in a visual form. Finally the whiteboard enters the digital age!

  • Platform: Web
  • Cost: Free personal account with Pro and Group accounts starting at $8 per month.
  • www.dabbleboard.com

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Misc.

skitchSkitch & Jing: Take pictures with your mobile phone or screenshots on your computer and mark them up with special notes and indicators such text boxes, arrows, highlights, circles, or rectangles.

VLC Media player: Time is of the essence, but there are so many great speeches and videos to watch online. VLC media player allows you to watch videos at twice the normal speed without voice distortion so you can learn more and save time. Once you get used to watching video at 2X speed, it actually becomes difficult to revert back to normal speed.

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Web:

GoDaddy_LogoGoDaddy: If you want a website, you’ll need a company to help you purchase the URL and maybe even set up a basic website interface. GoDaddy can do these things and more. It’s an internet domain registrar and web hosting company that also sells e-business related software and services. As ClickFire writes, “GoDaddy Hosting provides dozens of free add-on applications through their Hosting Connection platform, yet it is worth understanding that these free add-ons are free anywhere else as well, including popular software such as WordPress and Drupal. The advantage that GoDaddy presents is that they offer automated installation of these applications, which does provide added convenience and ease of use.”

  • Platform: Web
  • Cost: Varies depending on plan and purpose. Basic Economy plan starts at $4.99 a month
  • www.godaddy.com

Want more?

To get an additional 75+ more tools, one of the most comprehensive lists of tools available on the web, be sure to get a copy of Be Uncommonly Productive Part 4 (coming soon).

Have suggestions?

Have some more great tools we should all know about? Feel free to post your suggestions in the comment section below.

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Uncommon TIPS for uncommon results:

  • Assume there is a more productive way to do what you do and follow that assumption with another: There is probably an app or program designed to help you better handle a productivity challenge and/or achieve your goals more effectively. Find it. Perform Google searches, search the ‘productivity’ section of app stores relevant to your device, etc.
  • Perform a Google search for “plug-ins” and “add-ons” for your Internet browser to see what nifty tools are available for your needs.  I mentioned a couple above such as Boomerang and Rapportive, but there are thousands more that will help you lead an uncommon life.
  • If you’re looking for great deals on internet marketing or tech-related products and services at a discount, check out my friend’s incredibly popular daily deal site: www.AppSumo.com
  • Do you like the intention or idea behind a certain app or product, but you’re left unsatisfied with it’s performance or cost? Then visit www.alternativeto.net to see what other related tools are available to help you accomplish the same objective.
  • If you use Gmail, here is a must read LifeHacker article: Top 10 Gmail Labs You Should Enable

For many, many more tips on uncommon productivity, grab a copy of Be Uncommonly Productive here.

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NOTE: This page will be updated periodically with new tools, books, and tips. If you have suggestions to add, please post in the comments section below.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”