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12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done (Part 2)

12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done (Part 2)

12 Free Android Apps to Help Get Things Done

    This post continues the list I started in Part 1, adding apps for managing contacts, collaborating, and accessing computer services from your Android phone (or, in the near future, other device). As before, I’m including links to the developers’ homepage when available, but all of these apps can be downloaded from the Google Market on your Android phone. And all are free (or were when I accessed them). So here we go:

    7. PrinterShare

    PrinterShare lets you print over the Internet on your own printer at home or at the office. Sign up for a free account, install and configure the server software on the computer your printer is attached to, and then you can print from your Android phone from anywhere (so long as you have network access via 3G or wi-fi). The big drawback is that you’re fairly limited to the type of content that’s printable: contacts, photos, and webpages. However, with more and more work shifting to the Web, you can usually find a way to get your content into the web broswer to print it (e.g. sending email attachments to Google Docs and sharing as HTML).

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    8. RemoteDroid

    RemoteDroid turns your Android phone into a remote touchpad and keyboard to control your PC. The screen becomes a touchpad just like you’d find on a laptop, with right-click and left-click buttons; the keyboard functions normally, except one of the alt keys becomes “CTRL” so you can do CTRL-keystroke combos like CTRL-V to paste.

    RemoteDroid works over your home wi-fi network: you run the server on your PC and enter the IP address on the app to connect. If you’re trying to think of why you’d do this, consider watching video content on your big monitor or through your TV; now, you can use your phone to control the computer from across the room to pause, adjust volume, skip to the next video, or whatever.

    9. ShareYourBoard

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    ShareYourBoard

      This app is for storing and sharing whiteboards – after a meeting or presentation, open Share Your Board and snap a picture of your whiteboard. Share Your Board automatically trims the image (saving just the marked-on part of the board), adjusts contrast and color, and adjusts the perspective of the image, producing a flat, legible image that can be shared with others and commented on. You can take multiple images over the course of a meeting to assemble a kind of slide-show, too. Images can be shared via MMS, email, or sent to programs like Twidroid (a Twitter client), PostBot (a WordPress client – see Part 1), Picasa, or PrinterShare.

      The image in the screenshot above was captured in an unlit corner of my apartment; the only lamp is a three-bulb unit across the room which uses compact fluorescent bulbs (which give an awful yellow cast to photos); my whiteboard is surrounded on all sides with index cards and business cards I’ve tucked into the frame. As you can see, it’s done a fairly good job of isolating the relevant stuff (there’s an index card at the bottom) and making a very readable image of the keyboard shortcuts for my transcription software.

      10. Upvise

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      upvise

        Upvise is collaborative project management software comprised of several modular “applications”: contacts, notebooks, projects, tasks, and so on. The Android app integrates with an online service (both free, though there is a paid “Premium” level that offers a few more features) so you’re not limited to collaborating with other Android users. Projects and notes can be shared, tasks can be assigned out, and ideas can be voted on by anyone in your group. A sales application allows business users to track and follow-up leads. One nice thing: the contacts application will import all your Google contacts (although, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t sync new contacts back to your Google address book).

        11. StarContact

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        starcontact

          StarContact is a replacement for the default Dialer software, allowing you to search your contact list (using the T9-style keypad shown in the screenshot, a more compact version, or the regular keyboard). You can also search within non-name fields in your contact list (like address, company name, and notes) as well as by initials. Other than that, it looks and acts like the normal dialer, making it easy to adapt to if you’re already used to using ANdroid’s built-in software.

          12. Wapedia

          wapedia

            There are several Android apps for searching and displaying Wikipedia articles, and to be honest, they basically all do the same thing. Wapedia does it very quickly, with entries nicely formatted for the mobile screen and very good image rendering and scaling. You can also access specialized wiki sites, like the Muppet Wiki, Wookiepedia, WoWWiki (World of Warcraft), the Recipes Wiki, Wiktionary, and several others. 

            (Note: Wapedia is a site that can be accessed from any browser, but here I’m talking about the dedicated app that acts as a front-end to the website.

            What are your favorite Android apps for keeping yourself engaged, informed, and productive on the go? Since it may not be too long before Android goes mainstream, let us know what we should look for when we crack open our next smartphone or netbook.

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            Last Updated on July 8, 2020

            3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

            3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

            It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

            This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

            Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

            When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

            This is why setting priorities is so important.

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            3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

            There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

            1. Eat a Frog

            There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

            Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

            When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

            2. Move Big Rocks

            Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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            You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

            If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

            For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

            To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

            In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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            3. Covey Quadrants

            If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

            Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

            1. Important and Urgent
            2. Important and Not Urgent
            3. Not Important but Urgent
            4. Not Important and Not Urgent

              The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

              Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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              You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

              Getting to Know You

              Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

              In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

              These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

              More Tips for Effective Prioritization

              Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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