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Time Management

10 Time-Saving Web Tools

Who wants to spend time sweating the small stuff when there’s more important work to do? We highlight 10 web apps to streamline your daily tasks.


When we think about how to be more “productive” in pushing bold ideas forward, much of the challenge is clearing out the clutter. Figuring out how to do the stuff we don’t like (e.g. admin tasks, finances, email) more efficiently, so we have more time for the stuff we love – the meaningful work that moves the needle on our creative projects and our businesses.

The good news is the future of the Internet is “less about the searching and more about the getting,” as WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson wrote in a recent cover story. We now have tons of web apps at our fingertips that can minimize the amount of time we spend on the less glamorous details of making ideas happen.Here, we highlight 10 of our favorite web apps for streamlining crucial (but not particularly fun) day-to-day tasks, so you can get on with the important stuff.

1. Hipmunk: Book flights painlessly.

Kayak.com was the go-to flight booking service until Hipmunk came along and added their genius “agony rating” to the mix. It uses a new algorithm to factor in both the price and the pain of the trip (direct flight? two layovers?) to rank the flight results. You can also conduct and compare multiple flight searches simultaneously.

2. NudgeMail: Hit the snooze button on distracting emails.

NudgeMail is a simple way to postpone responding to certain emails, while also ensuring you’ll be nagged to deal with them later. Just forward the email to NudgeMail indicating when you want it to be sent again in the “To” field (e.g. monday@nudgemail.com, feb12@nudgemail.com, etc), and it will magically return to your inbox at that time. There’s no signup necessary, and it works with almost any email client or mobile device.

3. Xmarks: Sync your bookmarks across multiple devices.

Supporting all major browsers, Xmarks provides seamless bookmark syncing with an incredibly robust set of additional features, like password syncing, public bookmark sharing, and data backup and restore capabilities. And if you upgrade to the $1/month premium account, you can really go wild with uber-nerdy features like “open tab syncing.”

4. Ge.tt: Upload and share large (or small) files efficiently.

With Drop.io out of the picture, the remaining file sharing platforms all have issues: they cost too much, they’re too complicated, or they’re filled with schlocky ads. Ge.tt is clean, simple, free, and you don’t have to sign up for anything. You can even share your file link while the upload is still underway.

5. Track This: Track your packages with email, SMS, Facebook, or Twitter.

Have you ever found yourself ceaselessly refreshing the UPS, FedEx, etc website to try to find out when your package will arrive? Track This saves you the trouble by shooting you play-by-play updates from any of the major mail carriers via email, text, Facebook, or Twitter so you can rest easy (and updated).

6. Readability: Read blog posts and articles in an ad-free environment.

With roll-downs, pop-ups, and video ads, you sometimes need the focus of a zen master to read a mere blog post online. Readability cuts through the noise by zapping ads and creating a peaceful, distraction-free reading environment. The basic account is free; to get “read it later” and mobile functionality, it’s $5/month.

7. Billable: Create an invoice in 30 seconds.

For some creatives, invoicing is a task on par with going to the dentist. If you fall into this category, Billable is a (brain)dead simple and insanely efficient web app for generating invoices. Just fill out their online invoice template, and save it as a PDF or print. Don’t expect any bells or whistles though, Billable is not about customization, it’s about getting it done.

8. DaisyDisk: Find out what’s hogging your disk space.

If you’re a sucker for a sexy infographic, you’ll love DaisyDisk. The app scans your disk at light speed and then generates a gorgeous, color-coded, interactive data map that shows you what’s eating up all the space on your hard drive. While computer whizzes might be offended by its $20 price tag, it can definitely save some time for the less tech savvy among us. (Mac only.)

9. About.me: Build a personal website in about 2 minutes.

These days, not having a personal website is sort of like leaving the house without your pants on. But not everyone needs a rich portfolio site or a custom-coded blog. About.me makes creating a personal “splash page” a no-brainer. You just slap up a photo, include a short bio, and decide which social media accounts you want to link to (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pandora, etc), and you’re in business.

10. Evernote: Put everything you want to remember in one place.

This app isn’t new, but we’re mentioning Evernote again because it’s really the ultimate platform for brain-dumping. Whether it’s meeting notes, a blog post in development, a snapshot, a receipt, or a paragraph from a website, you can plunk it into Evernote, add some tags so you can find it later, and you’re done. Since all of your stuff lives in the cloud, it’s always backed up and accessible from any computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

What Do You Use?

What web apps help you streamline your daily tasks?

Jocelyn K. Glei

A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with how to make great creative work in the Age of Distraction. Her latest book is Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done. Her previous works include the 99U’s own bestselling book series: Manage Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.

Comments (64)
  • mwilbert

    Evernote is cross-platform. It is certainly not Mac only.

  • 99U

    Thanks for catching that. Fixed now.

  • Lesly Simmons

    I use Grand Perspective for mac to see where my hard drive space is going. Works great, very visual and also free.

  • Lukas Podhola

    Absolutely Dropbox .. on my pc, mac, ipad and iphone. It’s cool to have my files everywhere.

  • Rohan

    I use TeuxDeux to maintain a simple to-do list of tasks – http://iphone.onedayoneapp.com

  • Natali Alinskaya

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    Best regards, Natali, CEO of iscsi windows vista

  • tannerc

    What a great list of tools, I’m using (or have at least used) all of these at one point or another. I’d like to add Dropbox to the list as well, perfect for backing up and syncing files effortlessly.

  • Charlotte

    As mentoined by the others dropbox! and lastpass it’s so relaxing to use one password to access everything and i lve the fact that i can easily download a list and clean my computer of the passwords saved by browsers ehm yeah i think it’s a great tool.

  • Sachin Rekhi

    You might also want to check out Connected, which makes it super easy to manage your contacts. Automatically keeps them up-to-date by integrating with your address book, email accounts, social networks, calendar, and phone.

    http://connectedhq.com

  • Jeremy K

    Some good suggestions, but there are several free solutions that can manage most user needs w/o sacrificing functionality. I’ll suggest these alternates:

    For #4: CloudApp http://www.getcloudapp.com/ – super simple file sharing, drag & drop the file to the task bar icon (Mac) & auto-copies a url link onto your clipboard to paste anywhere you need.

    I’ll second Dropbox also well for file retrieval and sharing.

    For #8: Jdiskreport http://www.jgoodies.com/downlo… – not the graphically smooth & bold interface as DaisyDisk for sure, but does the job – for FREE! (Mac, Win, etc.) Not sure on speed comparison, but have found this to be fairly quick, and a great utility too for narrowing down HD hogging files.

  • Scott Belsky

    Jeremy – CloudApp is good and extremely simple, good addition.

  • Alex G

    I also recommend:

    http://todoist.com/ – Todoist is an online task manager that’s useful, fast and easy to use.

    and for group work (requiring more set up time)

    http://wedoist.com/ – Wedoist – Online project management

  • stijn

    Lately ifttt.com (currently invite only) saved me huge amounts of time with a few simple tasks I do not need to worry about anymore. Simply by automating a few tasks. In my case: automating tweets, saving links to my delicious account, send mail when certain shares drop below a price…
    Secondly, dropbox as for sharing files between work, home and while being on the road
    Thirdly, Google Docs, Gmail and Calendar. Remember the days when everything was stored on 1 (or even worse: several) device(s).

  • Wogan

    Maybe it sounds a bit “corporate-y”, but I find MS OneNote to be incredible at note-taking, saving, research, and cross-PC sync/collaboration. I host a private workbook on my own webserver, and my notes basically go where I go.

  • hihi

    nice!

  • Zac

    nice list, but x-marks is gone.

  • Secretss

    1) TinyGrab (http://tinygrab.com) for fast screenshot sharing. Just hit a keyboard shortcut and your cursor turns into a crosshair for you to select a section of your screen. Release your mouse button and the screenshot is immediately on its way to either tinygrab’s server or your own via FTP.

    2) Jing (http://www.techsmith.com/jing/… is another screenshot sharing service, but this one comes with screen recording, as well as allows you to edit/annotate your screenshot before uploading.

    3) Springpad (http://springpadit.com/) is looking pretty good as an alternative to Evernote. Check out the demo video: http://j.mp/gwQUcY . However, there is no desktop application for Springpad and you can’t format your notes other than the bold and italicize choices.

    @Zac: Xmarks is still a working service for me though.

  • Charlotte Clark

    Evernote’s truly fantastic, I’m always talking about it. Keep meaning to use it more, just could do with a slightly bigger monitor to work on long-form articles.

    Great post Jocelyn.

  • Scott

    I’m a fan of Evernote but I’ve found myself using Simplenote a lot lately. It’s great for plain text notes.

  • TheCapitalist

    Nope.. it was recently acquired. It’s back

  • TheCapitalist

    Agree.. OneNote is the standard. We just need a Mac version

  • Daniel

    Not anymore.

  • Rob

    Love it, I use a lot of these, Gett is a good one to have in my back pocket. Evernote is the winner here, any online entrepreneur or task master should be finding a way integrate it because it will do nothing but good.

  • Andy Burgess

    I frankly can’t live without TeuxDeux (http://teuxdeux.com) – an online to-do list app created by Tina Roth Eisenberg of SwissMiss. It’s really simple – just make a list of things you need to do, and it will pull them across each day in the calendar until they’re done. What’s more, you can add future tasks, and there’s a nice big section at the bottom of the page for those “someday” idea you’ve got on the back burner. Best of all, it even has an iPhone app, so you can keep on top of things while on the move.

  • Dakx Turcotte

    I must say I’ve become addicted to using Action Method Online on my Mac and iPad. The iPad version is by far the best tool I have on my iPad. Couldn’t live without it.

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