By Alyssa Aldersley, visit Buffer.
What does it take to be productive? It’s a question I often ask myself and to be honest I don’t have a great answer for it yet. One key discovery I’ve made over the past year or so is that I need to have great habits in place.
That’s why I’m working on a solid running routine and on a set wake-up time and sleep time. These things have been incredibly helpful for me and I know both Joel and Leo have discovered the same.
One other realization I had is that, as I now spend so much of my day working online, there are a heap of new apps being created all the time to help us all become more productive. Yes indeed, on top of Buffer, there are still dozens of amazing tools out there we use every day!
That’s why I thought of compiling a full list of 100 tools, tips and tricks for you to reflect a bit on your own productivity.
Of course, a sure fire way to fail might be to try and use all 100, which Joel pointed out to me when we discussed this post! So hopefully this can be a useful resource for you to dip in and out of, whenever you feel your productivity is in a slump. Here goes:
10 awesome music sites to get into your zone
When Leo recently wrote about Multitasking, one of the most interesting aspects was that music doesn’t actually contribute to us being distracted when we work. Stanford professor Clifford Nass mentioned this:
“In the case of music, it’s a little different. We have a special part of our brain for music, so we can listen to music while we do other things.”
In the comments, some people mentioned being able to listen to music as long as it was without lyrics, so you might like to give that a try?
Here are 10 great sites that allow you to easily get into the zone or a good flow with awesome music streams:
1. Incredibox – a big hit amongst programmers. Mix your own beats for rhythmic, lyric free, tracks before you get started with your work.
2. 8tracks.com – a popular choice with the Buffer team. 8tracks is a really fast way to pick a genre and start listening to some really awesome music.
3. 99Percent Music Mix – a personal favorite of Leo’s with an amazing playlist that is “designed to entertain without totally taking over your brain”.
4. Spotify – a super well-known app here. Really great for being able to find friends and their “Top Tracks”.
5. Herd.fm – a great way to discover new music, it learns from your iTunes and Facebook shares and presents you with fresh stuff!
6. SoundCloud - super easy to share sounds with friends by connecting your account to Twitter and Facebook. You can even add comments and likes to everyone’s sounds too.
7. Soundrop – an awesome music app that gives you pre-set channels, right inside Spotify.
8. Hype Machine - tracks some really cool music bloggers and filters all their info to you for easy digest. Making it super easy to discover new tracks.
9. 22tracks – a really cool curation site. Like a jukebox with 22 playlists, each filled with 22 tracks. You don’t even have to register so it’s an easy way to discover new music.
10. Sound Sleeping – an amazing and non-traditional one to finish up. If you like to fall asleep to music, this helps you to relax and fall asleep faster.
10 great (and little known) tools to organize your online information
We had a great post a few weeks ago from Matt Ragland on the top tools to help you organize the web. In today’s post, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail on some lesser known tools that can help you to become a lot more organized and efficient with your online tasks.
1. Blossom – an awesome web app we use daily at Buffer, both to keep track of feature development and also for personal goal tracking.
2. Draftsapp – a super slick and easy to use iPhone app. I use this one to capture quick drafts – whether it be a tweet, a list, a blog post – and then export it to a bunch of places across the web – from Dropbox, to Evernote and even to Buffer.
3. MindMeister – a really amazing solution to help you to brainstorm your most important tasks and capture as mind maps.
4. Kippt – a brand new approach to keeping your bookmarks. You simply share them as public streams and engage in an amazing feed of content in return.
5. Dragon Dictation – do you have great thoughts you speak out loud and forget to write down? Here’s an awesome app that does it all for you – simply record your voice and receive it back as transcribed text.
6. Zootool – another great solution that will save your bookmarks in a very visual and easy to glance page, well worth checking out.
7. IFTTT – after a recent makeover, it’s now a lot simpler to use. Easy to automate all sorts of tasks across the web and even offline. One of my ‘favorite’ tools for Buffering a retweet.
8. Trello – somewhat similar to the above mentioned Blossom, Trello is an awesome tool to help you track your progress, ideas and projects in one place.
9. Slice – if you’re shopping a lot online and want to keep track of your receipts more easily, I’ve found Slice to be very handy. Definitely gets onto this list.
10. Pipedrive – last but definitely not least is Pipedrive. An amazing tool to keep track of sales, moving you along a pipeline to close those deals.
Bonus: Stride – Another amazing tool I only discovered recently for closing deals fast in an intuitve and incredibly well designed interface is Stride.
10 tools to provide the most amazing customer support
Tired of boring help centers and letting customers fill out “tickets”? How about we up our game a bit with customer support and turn it into something snappy and fast. Something you’ll love to use, both as a business owner and as a user also.
Leo wrote a post recently about ways to WOW your customers. Of course, having the right tools to do the job is equally important.
1. HelpScout – HelpScout gives you a shared inbox, where you can reply to emails super easily as a team – as a side effect it has become the most important support tool we use at Buffer.
2. Skitch – this screenshot tool from Evernote is extremely simple and lets you make annotated screen captures on the spot and send to your users. I use this daily to explain solutions better.
3. Cloudapp – together with Skitch, you have a killer support combo. Drag any “skitch’d” page onto Cloudapp to have screenshots with links available in seconds.
4. SupportBee – similar to HelpScout, this is a super simple email support tool that also comes with custom snippets and lots of options to add data about your customers.
5. HelpJuice – HelpJuice makes FAQ’s super smart and easy to use. No more endless search queries, but a tailored way for your users to find what they want.
6. UserSnap – this awesome tool combines Cloudapp and Skitch and lets your users send you screenshots without having to install any tools – super handy.
7. SproutSocial – here at Buffer we also use SproutSocial for smarter support via Twitter and Facebook. Grouping as a “smart inbox” of any tweets or Facebook comments that come in, makes it super easy.
8. Olark – this one’s very simple – live chat on your site. We’ve used this many times in the past and the insights you can get from users is incredible.
9. TextExpander – a tool I simply couldn’t live without. Save text snippets and have them expand as you type certain words. Super simple and extremely useful for fast and great customer support [and just about anything else].
10. KISSinsights – similar to Olark, KISSinsights allows you to gather real time feedback from your customers. What’s more, you can easily let them vote on any questions, so no writing is required.
BONUS – Desk.com – This is one amazing all in one customer support app. It helps you connect with your customers wherever you are, especially their full mobile app support is a big plus.
10 innovative and beautiful apps to get stuff done
I know what you might be thinking – there are more to do list apps than actual websites on the internet! Personally, I’ve been through a bunch of different tools to find ones that actually keep me coming back. Here’s a highly filtered list, after using dozens of different tools, of which to do list tools actually help me get more productive:
1. IDoneThis – this app takes a brand new approach. Instead of writing down what you need to get done, do things first and capture the ‘dones’, a real high-five at the end of your day when you realise all you achieved!
2. Teux Deux – a simple, and tiny bit quirky, app that let’s you jot down your to do’s on a beautiful white canvas. Instead of fussing over to do lists, you can just get on with your tasks.
3. Wunderlist – another awesome tool that convinced me with its stunning UI is Wunderlist. An amazing way to keep track of to do’s, as if it came straight out of Apple’s lab.
4. Streaks – a really cool app to track accomplishments. Simply mark each action that’s working towards your goal on your Streaks calendar – but watch out, miss a day and your streak starts all over again!
5. Clear – if your life is one big mess of Post-Its and scraps of paper, this super simple list app might be just what you need. Throw actions in and get them out of your head, perfect.
6. Oh Life - how’d your day go? Just reply to the email that comes through at the end of you with thoughts, events and tall tales and you’ll soon build up a really neat collection of life stories. Sweet.
7. Habit List – similar to Streaks above. If you want to hit the gym three times a week, this app can keep you motivated, giving you a buzz when you stick to your goals. Soon enough you’ll have formed a habit.
8. Astrid - recently named Lifehacker’s best to-do list manager, Astrid is a super easy way to keep on top of all you have to do and even better, it’s available for both iOS and Android.
9. Day One – a really simple way to journal. Quickly enter your thoughts and memories and have them backed up to either iCloud or Dropbox.
10. WorkFlowy – if you’re the kind of person who wants to be up with the next cool app, consider WorkFlowy. One of my own favorites, its really clean layout allows you to focus. Great for collaborating with others.
10 quirky apps that are just cool and super useful
When brainstorming this article, I thought there needed to be a section about some apps which just don’t fit anywhere else but are still super handy and used by millions of people. I was on the look-out for 10 quirky and unusual apps, which you might never knew you needed, but once you try them you’ll soon see why they deserve to be here:
1. DragonDrop – this app just makes dragging and dropping even better. You can set down what you’re dragging and set off to find your destination without worrying about keeping the mouse button held down. Neat!
2. Alfred - an awesome productivity app for Mac OS X, saving you endless time searching your local computer and the web. Skip the mouse too by launching apps with keyboard shortcuts. Perfect. A big favorite with Tom A, our extensions wizard!
3. Pop – a super simple app with one single purpose, to capture your ideas on the fly. Nothing more. Simply open the app, capture and copy. Perfect example of frictionless iOS capture.
4. RebelMouse - recently stepping in to act as curator of all things social media, your activity can be viewed on a single URL allowing your followers to see everything captured in the one place, a little like this.
5. Gabi – new kid on the block, Gabi, is a lovely way to interact with Facebook. Instead of displaying everything, it only shows you the best: pictures with the most likes, statuses with the most engagement. Bang goes News Feed overwhelm!
6. Path - very much like a visual journal between friends, simply stay connected with those closest to you through a single feed. Super simple to share photos, who you’re with, where you are etc, with just the click of one button!
7. Pair - an app made just for two. And if you’re both online at the same time, you can ThumbKiss – you’ll see where your ‘pair’ is touching their screen so you can touch the same spot and make both phones vibrate!
8. Stamped – Simply ‘stamp’ what you like and give it a ‘stamp of approval’! Amazing for discovering recommendations from your circle of friends!
9. Fancy – Fancy is a beautiful way to curate a collection of things you love, and share your discoveries. When you find something you love somewhere on the web, Fancy it. Simple.
10. Growl - with all your notification preferences in the one place, you have full control over which notifications are shown and how they’re displayed. And who doesn’t like a little control!?
10 fast file sharing and storage apps
Dropbox, Dropbox and Dropbox. To be honest, that’s what I used to think about when it came to file sharing and storage apps. The good news, there’s a lot more variety in this space. There are apps which let you upload and share files faster than ever before, or focus extensively on security, giving you a huge amount of data for free and more. Check them out here:
1. Crate – A ridiculously easy file-sharing tool, with native drag-and-drop and easy sharing of a single file or a whole crate using a short URL, a great option for file sharing in the cloud.
2. Ge.tt – one of the simplest ways to share files I’ve found. Add your files and you share the link before the files are even finished uploading. Even better, you get stats about your files including views. How cool is that?
3. Kicksend – without size or resolution restrictions, you can share hundreds of photos in full quality directly to the desktops and phones of your family and friends – even RAW photos from DSLR cameras!
4. Box – a little like Dropbox, you can store all your content online, so you can access, manage and share it from anywhere. Integrating with Google App and Salesforce, you can also access Box on lots of mobile devices.
5. Cubby – Although currently in beta, Cubby is a top-notch option for cloud storage. With the ability to share unlimited amounts of stuff between your own computers, and unlimited versions of files with others, Cubby is pretty great.
6. ShareFile – A super easy way to share big business files with one person or a hundred. Just click to ‘send a file’, enter an email address and click to upload. Job done.
7. YouSendIt – share large files from any device with the comfort of email without the hassle of inbox limits. Send and share files quickly and securely, sign documents and access your content on the go. Easy peasy.
8. Google Drive – Google’s solution to cloud document storage and sharing – you even get 5GB of space free! More than just file storage though; you can share and edit them with full access to Google Docs.
9. SugarSync – a free service that lets you access, sync and share files across all computers and devices, with back up, sync and sharing of all your documents, photos, music and movies.
10. Droplr - You simply drag a file to an icon on your Mac, which is then uploaded straight to Droplr. Once complete you can then instantly share the file with whoever, wherever. Sweet.
10 top social media apps for getting more done
How do you go about getting all those tweets, Facebook shares and LinkedIn updates done every day? We compiled a list of the most powerful social media apps in the market to date, to give you an edge with your social media appearance. Most of them we use daily here at Buffer and they’ve helped us all a great deal to built strong social media accounts. Here are our top 10 picks:
1. CrowdTap – a social marketing platform that finds passionate consumers and helps brands turn them into influencers to drive word of mouth. Driven by a fun, social game that lets customers earn perks and rewards.
2. Crowdbooster – full to the brim with analytics and recommendations to help you reach the key influencers in your network, determine which tweets resonated the most and figure out the best time to reach them. What’s not to love about a little insight!
3. Buffer - Of course we hope the tool we are working on here at Buffer is also a helpful one for you. Add Tweets, Facebook posts or LinkedIn updates via the handy browser extensions from anywhere on the web and queued up to be posted at a better time. Also check out the brand new integrations with other apps..
4. Tweriod – it makes most sense to reach out to others when they’re online, right? Tweriod analyses the last 200 tweets of up to 1000 of your followers and shows you when is the best time to tweet in order to reach them. Useful stuff.
5. SocialBro – similar to Tweriod above, SocialBro also provides incredibly powerful statistics for your Twitter account. A little knowledge can go a very long way and have a huge impact on your engagement.
6. seesaw – remotely working with others can be tricky but luckily there’s a bunch of tools to make it easier. A conference room and notepad all rolled into one, Seesaw makes the whole process of collaboration much simpler.
7. Bottlenose – a radical new way to keep up in real-time with everything on the web. When you browse, you see all the related messages next to it. Leave it running and watch as Sonar updates live to show you the latest action.
8. Tweetings – a clean, simple, easy to use Twitter client for iOS, giving you quick access to your tweets, mentions, favorites, as well as managing your lists. And with Buffer integration too, what’s not to love!
9. Hootsuite - super useful for keeping on top of your social media streams and my app of choice for desktop Twitter management. Simply organise who you follow into Twitter lists and add to Hootsuite as streams. Feed overwhelm becomes a thing of the past!
10. TweetCaster – Another great Twitter client with all the basic Twitter functions and Instapaper support. You can even color code your tweets!
10 best newsreading apps for your tablet and smartphone
Nothing works quite right if we don’t manage our flow of incoming information. In a landscape of hundreds of channels, that each provide us with information, I try to be extremely protective of where my news come from. The best way I’ve found to manage this is with some of the latest newsreading apps on the web. They range from read it later services, to rss readers or super intelligent newspaper apps which learn about your reading habits:
1. Prismatic - There is a new kid on the block with Prismatic and it is absolutely stunning. Prismatic for the web and iPhone learns which things you want to read and then shows you the best things from your social streams all in one place. Well worth checking out.
2. Reeder – an amazing Google Reader client. You can send articles that catch your eye to Instapaper and Pocket, save to Evernote, post direct to Twitter or send the link via email. You can add to your Buffer from the iPhone app too!
3. Instapaper – if you don’t have time to read long articles right away, Instapaper allows you to easily save them for later so you don’t just forget about them or skim through them. Love this one myself.
4. Pocket – similar to Instapaper, simply grab an article you’d like to read later but don’t want to add the entire site to your RSS reader. All your future reading items will be in one place, ready for when you have a few minutes to spare [and ready to Buffer!].
5. Mr. Reader – an RSS news reader for your iPad that synchronizes with your Google Reader account. Due to the large article preview and image thumbnails, it’s super easy to read articles you’re interested in. Even better, it has full Buffer integration.
6. Zite – a super smart, free, personalized magazine for your iPad that learns what you like and gets smarter every time you use it. A favorite of the Buffer team.
7. NewsMix – a social newstand that makes it easy to get, read and share news which matches your interests… the latest news is only a tap away!
8. Caffeinated – beautifying Google Reader on Mac pretty much sums it up, it seamlessly syncs with your Google Reader account without interrupting your reading experience. Just lovely.
9. Newsify - an elegant way to read and share the content of your favorite sites. This awesome Google Reader client brings the Flipboard/Zite style news layout together both things in one and makes it look simply beautiful. Grab it for your iOS app now.
10. RSSOwl – a free and powerful news reader which lets you can gather, organize and search news in a convenient, easy to use interface with a ton of flexibility.
10 best health and fitness apps to make your productivity spike
One of the most powerful ways to work more productively every day is if you feel healthy and fit. The web has advanced and produced an amazing set of new apps that help you achieve exactly this. Here are our top 10 health and fitness apps to help you make each day filled with energy and joy. The social element of these apps is extremely powerful and interesting. Check them out here:
1. RunKeeper – with GPS tracking for route and pace measurement, you can easily tracking your workouts, measure your progress and improve the quality of your fitness! My own running app of choice.
2. StrongLifts – the “No B.S. Strength and Muscle-Building” strategy. Try Mehdi Hadim’s 5×5 program of doing 5 sets of 5 reps for drug-free strength and muscle building. A personal favorite of Leo’s.
3. Nike+ FuelBand – set personal goals, access coaching tips, find and share routes, challenge friends and tell the world how you’re doing – track all your activity and compare results over time.
4. Fitbit Endomondo – the wristband is with you every step of the day, motivating you to make small changes that add up to big results and with real-time activity stats, you’ll know exactly how close you are to your goals. Andy carries his FitBit everywhere.
5. Fitocracy – Is it time to be fitter and look better naked? Bringing a little gamification to your fitness routine, push boundaries, beat challenges and show your friends who’s boss. Game on!
6. Endomondo – Track workouts, challenge your friends and analyze your training. You can track your running, cycling and a heap of other sports – it’s fun, social and motivating.
7. Couch to 5k – a super simple running plan to get new runners off the couch and running 3 miles in just two months. Each session takes about 30 minutes, three times a week, which just so happens to be recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness!
8. SkinnyO – start or join challenges to make it a little easier to stay healthy. Compete with your friends to lose weight and track progress with awesome graphs, personal diary, badges, reputation and more. Created by our very own Tom Moor!
9. Weightbot – super simple – just set weight goals, watch your progress and view interesting analytical data about your weight changes. Compared to a lot of similar apps, it’s really refreshing and enjoyable.
10. Nexercise – an iPhone app that uses gamification and social media to make fitness more fun and rewarding. Measure your workouts to earn virtual medals, points and rewards as you go. The more you work out, the more likely you are to earn a Nexercise grand prize.
10 all time best articles to help you boost your productivity
To round out the top 100, I wanted to share some of my favorite articles on productivity. If reading about all these apps has got your juices flowing, and you’re feeling super keen to kick your productivity up a gear, you might find even more inspiration here:
1. The 10 Laws of Productivity - Written on The99Percent blog, one of my favorite productivity blogs, there are some very valuable lessons here on how to align your productivity with your day.
2. How to be Insanely Productive and Still Keep Smiling - Written by the master of productivity, Leo Babauta of ZenHabits, this article touches on some great points. Productivity is not just about getting more done, it’s also about developing a happier self.
3. 7 Things Highly Productive People Do - Based on the amazing book from Stephen Covey, here’s a post that sums up what highly productive people do when working online.
4. The Truth About Sleep & Productivity - “Working overtime doesn’t increase your output. It makes you stupid”. It hit me out of the blue a few weeks ago – take care of your sleep, nothing is more important, and this post tells you why.
5. Why Boredom is Good for Your Creativity - Another insanely interesting post about where creativity comes from, namely from moments of boredom and honest curiosity. A great guide on how to get there.
6. Ask The Entrepreneurs: 16 Ways to Master Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur - Entrepreneurs are known to be self-starters and need to find ways to stay motivated without a boss or someone telling them what to do. Here’s a great guide on how to get to that stage.
7. 10 Bad Habits You Need to Break to Be More Productive - Craig Jarrow comes in with this all time hit on 10 habits you had better stop doing to increase your daily productivity. This post, as well as his blog in general, are an awesome resource for getting more done every day.
8. 10 Weekly Ten Minute Practices to Boost Work Productivity - This is a post I particularly enjoyed. It doesn’t take a huge change in life-style to become more productive. 10 minutes per week is all it takes and this post tells you how.
9. The Tao of Productivity - Here’s another amazing post from Leo Babauta that had to be included here. I’ve always thought I knew what the term “productivity” means, this post definitely turned this upside down – a great read.
10. 5 Ways That Exercise Increases Your Productivity - Here’s another fantastic post from Craig on how he uses exercise every day to increase productivity. The refreshing part about this post is his new perspective on “why”. We all know exercising is good, what is often hard is to make it a habit with a strong belief behind.
Phew, that’s it; our big list of tips tricks and trips to help you get more successful and efficient when working online. Of course I wouldn’t recommend trying and implement all these tips at once, it’s more a chance to see this as a resource and pick a new tool or tip every so often, as soon as you feel your productivity is dipping.
This list is nowhere near complete. How do you stay productive and efficient when working online? Are there any tools or tips you are using that we missed here? Let us know below!