Whether you own your own business, work from home, are going to school, or all of the above, everyone is looking for a way to get more done quicker, better and with fewer resources. In today's busy world, technology has made it possible to easily increase productivity with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. Check out these seven easy-to-use apps or websites that will help you be more efficient at home and at work, improve your organization skills, and better manage your time.
1. RescueTime: Available for Android, PC and Mac
RescueTime forces you to ask yourself: Am I really spending my days the way I want to? The reason this productivity tool is at the top of the list is that it's designed to train you to spot inefficiencies throughout your day, manage your time better, and help you to avoid unnecessary distractions that may be preventing you from maximizing your workday. The app runs in the background on your computer's status bar and measures all of your activity throughout the day: applications, websites, documents, and other tools that you're using. It tells you how much time you've spent on each site, and you can view your easy-to-access dashboard that features graphs and timesheets of your activity. If you find that you're not as productive as you'd like to be, you can put RescueTime on Focus Mode, which will block any potentially distracting messages from popping up.
2. Manilla.com: Available for the iPhone, Android and at Manilla.com
Manilla.com is an award-winning, free and secure service that helps you simplify and organize your daily life by managing everything in one place. Using just one password, you can manage your financial accounts, bills, travel rewards, daily deals, magazine and Netflix subscriptions, and more. We send you reminders when your bills are almost due and when your rewards points are about to expire. We even provide unlimited online document storage forever, for free, so you have access to your bills and statements whenever you need them. While Manilla is a valuable tool for the busy consumer, it's also ideal for small-business owners who need one place to manage all of their company bills and accounts.
3. Task Rabbit: Available for the iPhone and at TaskRabbit.com
Task Rabbit is a service that allows you to outsource your to-do list -- literally. Need to pick up your dry cleaning? Go grocery shopping? Get computer help? Check Task Rabbit for a long list of people who will be willing to do it for you. The site is free to use, and then you pay based on your task. TaskRabbits bid on your tasks, and you pick the most qualified person for the job. This service is available in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Antonio, Seattle, and San Francisco.
4. 24Me: Available for the iPhone (Android app coming soon)
24Me is an iPhone app that not only acts as a digital to-do list, but it also provides the tools necessary to get your tasks done. The app is linked to Task Rabbit, so while 24Me will remind you it's time to do something, like pick up your dry cleaning, it will also let you use Task Rabbit to find someone to do it for you. 24Me lets you pay bills, greet friends when it's their birthday, and even share tasks with others.
5. Shoeboxed: Available for the iPhone, Android and Chrome
Shoeboxed is a web and mobile app that lets you manage all of your receipts right from your phone. To upload, all you have to do is snap a photo of the receipt. You can sort them by date, and they are automatically categorized for you into different groups, like meals, travel, office supplies, and more. The free version captures all of this data for the first five receipts, and then you can choose to either manually enter the data or pay a monthly fee for Shoeboxed to continue uploading the data automatically.
You know that feeling of convenience you get when you create a "rule" in your email account? For example: "If subject line says 'Daily Report,' then move to 'Follow Up' folder." Now you can get that feeling of convenience for almost anything. If This Then That is a service that lets you create what they call a "recipe" for all sorts of things in your life. Here are some examples:
- "If I'm tagged in a photo on Facebook, then send me a text message."
- "If I check in on Foursquare, then send an email to Sarah."
- "If I post a photo on Instagram, then add the file to my Dropbox."
The recipes check for new data as often as every 15 minutes, and you can turn them on and off whenever you want.
7. Fancy Hands: Available for the iPhone, Android (in beta) and at FancyHands.com
Using Fancy Hands is like having a personal assistant at the fraction of the cost. It's a website that provides virtual assistants who will complete any chores or tasks that don't require them to physically go anywhere, such as providing driving directions, making restaurant reservations, researching nearby clothing stores, discovering the least-expensive cable plan, and more.
Sarah Kaufman is the managing editor of the Manilla Blog and marketing manager of Manilla.com, the award-winning, free and secure service that lets you organize and simplify your bills and accounts in one place online or using the mobile apps. She does not own shares of any company mentioned here. For more information about tools that improve personal productivity, visit Manilla.com.