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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)
  • Damon Muma

    I dunno why you’re repping $20 DaisyDisk without mentioning there’s free Disk Inventory X ( http://www.derlien.com/ ) and free Grand Perspective ( http://grandperspectiv.sourcef… ) that do essentially the same thing (just not quite as pretty).

  • Jake the windmill

    filesharing: wetransfer.com

    free and fast and not to mention dutch 😉

  • Shea PRagency

    thanks for the info i will mos def be checking them all out

  • Jamie

    Useful list, thanks for publishing.
    It’s only just been launched but there’s a promising new project management and billing app for creative freelancers available for trial and then subscription:

    http://thrivesolo.com/

  • Eric

    I’ve started using http://www.workflowy.com/ and it’s almost ridiculously simple… sometimes I think.. if only it could do “THIS” or if only i could change the look of “THAT”… but then i realize it would defeat the whole purpose of this simply to-do list. check it out.
    (no, i don’t work for them)

  • Darci

    Bookmarks, sharing files, notebook, personal website, calendar, task list — I can do all in my Google account. But there are a few things on the rest on the list I will definitely check out!

  • Bartolomeo Koczenasz

    i totaly recommend dropbox.com filesharing service which creates folder on your desktop… no need to use explorer

  • James Bickerton

    http://www.strikeapp.com/ is awesome for todo lists

  • justinmather

    Other than what’s listed, I’d also recommend:
    – URList (http://urli.st/) : Create lists of links to share & store easily.
    – Copypastecharcter (http://www.copypastecharacter…. : online resource for inserting those little known characters into in web based text editor
    – jsFiddle (http://jsfiddle.net/) : provides an online environment where you can preselect/add popular JavaScript frameworks and test your code

  • Melissa

    Lately I’ve been using windows calendar live, and many moons. I will check these tools out and let you know what i think.

  • Priya Telang

    Thanks…….

  • Scott

    The biggest time saver I’ve seen lately is the RockMelt browser. (http://www.rockmelt.com)
    It has strong social media ties but the RSS preview is awesome.

  • Elizabeth Borg

    I use http://www.diigo.com, which is a social bookmarking site that you can annotate, highlight and share 🙂

  • Jermaine Young

    SpringPad is the best online bookmarking tool I’ve ever used. What makes it so cool is that you can organize your bookmarks visually making it easier to go back through them later. For invoicing I prefer freshbooks. It just feels more professional than anything else I’ve used so far. Also, as an alternative to about.me (which takes forever to approve accounts in my experience) I use flavors.me which has really cool tools for free, easy set up, and a nice non-obstructive interface.

  • Thailand Reisen

    i use Jing a lot for screensharing when collaborating with someone.

  • Stephan Zacharias

    One of my most useful and best tools I’ ve ever used is http://www.diigo.com for remembering everything important I find online, gathering relevant information for projects and sharing it with friends and co-workers alike.

  • thehalvo

    Great list, but Xmarks isn’t exactly the greatest app in my opinion. It’s number one weakness is it’s lack of bookmark tags, that creates issues cross browser.

  • Colorado Photographer

    Thanks for the about.me info- I just created a profile page, and it really did only take about 5 minutes!

  • Olga

    I’ d recommend TeamLab http://www.teamlab.com – a free tool for collaboration and project management.

  • Search. Sort. Share.

    MoodShare allows you to make and share collaborative mood boards – http://www.moodshare.co/

  • Search. Sort. Share.

    MoodShare allows you to make and share collaborative mood boards – http://www.moodshare.co/

  • Truereligionjeans

    I used to be more than happy to seek out this site.I needed to thanks for this nice learn I undoubtedly having fun with every little little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  • Rute Martins

    Definitely Evernote – I think of it as a huge box of stuff, only I can search through it efficiently. Works like a brain.

  • Cameron Plommer

    Evernote is so much more than a dumping ground. In my opinion Evernote is the best way to manage tasks and projects.

    I’ve compiled several tutorials on how to best use Evernote as well that you my find useful http://bit.ly/fITO6j

  • dissertation uk

    great list. tools are useful indeed and they an save some time – i’ve checked )

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