How often have you wished for more time with your family? You probably also wish for an orderly schedule and an organized desk. Free productivity tools can make all of these things a reality.
Getting organized can be a daunting prospect. But soon you'll be efficient at scheduling meetings and completing tasks. You'll have more time to spend with your family. And you'll be less stressed.
There are many different theories on organization and time management. I won't debate the merits of each. The best system is the one that works for you.
No matter what theory works for you, you'll need several tools. A calendar, to-do list and note-taking tools are essential. A system for reminders is icing on the cake. I have links to these at www.komando.com/news.
You may use Outlook or a similar program at work. Outlook combines e-mail, contacts and calendar in one tidy package. But it is costly for home users.
If you need a simple, effective calendar, try Mozilla's Sunbird. You can create appointments and prioritize tasks. You'll see upcoming appointments and incomplete tasks at a glance.
Sunbird lets you create multiple calendars. You can keep work and your personal life separate. Additionally, you can publish a calendar to the Web for sharing. You need your own site for this.
If you need e-mail and contact management, try Thunderbird with Lightning. Thunderbird provides e-mail and contact management. Lightning adds Sunbird's features.
Maybe you want an easier way to manage your calendar. In that case, try ReminderFox. It's an add-on for Mozilla's Firefox.
An unobtrusive icon is placed in the corner of Firefox. Hold your mouse over it to see what's on your day's agenda.
Click the icon to bring up more options for editing items.
You can add reminders, tasks and lists. ReminderFox can also display notifications for upcoming appointments.
If you do most of your thinking on the go, sign up for Jott. Once you register, you can phone in reminders and messages.
You can send messages to yourself or to groups of people. They'll receive a text message and e-mail containing the transcribed text.
Likewise, you'll receive scheduled reminders via e-mail and text message.
From your computer, you can organize notes and reminders into categories.
Gather your thoughts
Jott is great for short messages. But you'll need more help managing project notes. Notes can help you brainstorm and outline your next course of action. Notes are also a necessity when researching. And sometimes, you just want to clear your head.
Google Notebook lets you create numerous notebooks. For example, create one for each project. Then start entering notes in each section of a notebook. You can add tags and comments to your notes. Notebooks can be private or shared.
With Google tool bar, you can take notes from any Web page. Simply highlight a section of text to add it to your notebook. You'll need a free Google account to use Notebook.
Notes that stick
There's nothing like a Post-It Note for immediate reminders and notes. StickyPad brings Post-Its to your computer. The notes appear like their paper brethren on your desktop. You can save notes for future reference, or set a time for the note to reappear as a reminder.
You can also e-mail notes to others, assign a color based on category and print notes.
Kim Komando hosts a talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet at noon Saturdays on KFYI (550 AM). To listen to the podcast, visit www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to her free weekly e-mail newsletter sign up at www.komando.com/newsletters.