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Top 20 Free Applications to Increase Your Productivity

Top 20 Free Applications to Increase Your Productivity
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The Internet is loaded with free software, making it hard to know which one’s you really need. This article will act as your guide to the top 20 free applications (Web and Windows) for increased productivity.

These programs will make your PC faster, stronger, and more productive.

1. Launchy

Launchy is the best free program launcher. It allows you to launch your documents, files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. Launchy is also packed with a few extra features. You can use Launchy’s keyboard shortcuts to:

  • Search Google
  • Check the weather
  • Search other sites
  • Browse your computer
  • Use the built in calculator
  • Index your music, pictures, bookmarks, and folders
  • and much more…


2. AutoHotKey

When it comes to raw power, it doesn’t get much better than AutoHotKey. This software can automate just about anything by capturing your keystrokes and mouse clicks. This free utility allows you to define your own hotkeys, enabling you to launch an applicaton with a single key press.

AutoHotKey is a bit more technical than Launchy, but it’s well worth the effort. Fortunately, this application does come with a built-in macro recorder.

3. AVG AntiVirus

If you’re looking for free antivirus software, nothing beats AVG Antivirus 7. This product has been continuously improved and updated since 1991.

4. SpyBot Search and Destroy

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There’s nothing worse than spyware to cripple a computer. For years, millions of users have relied on SpyBot Search and Destroy to keep their computer running smoothly.

5. Ad-Aware

Ad-Aware works perfectly along side SpyBot Search and Destroy to help protect your computer against harmful spyware.

Other good choices include SpyWare Terminator and Win Patrol.

6. Free Download Manager

Free Download Manager is a highly recommended download accelerator and manager. Don’t waste time waiting for your files to download. Free Download Manager will instantly increase your download speed by up to 600%.

7. BK ReplaceEm

Have you ever needed to replace a certain string of text in multiple files? If so, then you know what a pain it can be. Fortunately, there a number of free search and replace utilities that will help you get the job done quickly.

BK ReplaceEm is one of the most powerful search and replace utilities, allowing you to operate on multiple files at once.

8. Google Web Accelerator

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Speed up the Web with Google Web Accelerator. This simple program will allow you to enjoy faster web browsing in seconds.

9. CamStudio

CamStudio is free recording software that will allow you to create demonstration videos, online tutorials, or even video-based information products. The possibilities are endless with this professional software. Fortunately, it doesn’t have the price tag that goes along with most streaming video software.

10. Audacity

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. You can use Audacity to record live audio, edit sound files, mix sounds together, and much more.

11. Foxit PDF Reader

Here’s a small PDF reader that loads in a flash. It’s an excellent alternative to Adobe’s slow, bloated PDF Reader.

12. 7-Zip

7-Zip is one of the best file compressors available. This open source software will allow you to compress a number of different file formats.

Another excellent zip utility is IZArc, which supports nearly 50 different archive file types.

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13. CCleaner

CCleaner is a simple program that will help keep your computer running at its peak. This freeware utility removes unused files from your system, freeing up valuable hard disk space.

14. OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice is the number one open source alternative to Microsoft’s Office Suite. OpenOffice includes a word processor, spreadsheet software similar to Microsoft Excel, web page editor, photo software and a presentation program similar to Microsoft Powerpoint.

15. Skype

Skype allows you to talk to people across the world for free. This program is perfect for business application as well as personal use.

16. Gmail

Gmail is hands-down the best email client available. It comes with built-in Google search technology, 2.6 GB of storage, and a number of excellent features.

Gmail allows you to apply labels to your email, create filters, and presents your email messages as threaded conversations.

17. Better Gmail

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To enhance your Gmail for optimum productivity, then you will need to download the Better Gmail Firefox extension. Better Gmail adds a number of features, including:

  • Google Calendar in the folder list
  • a number of new Gmail skins
  • saved searches and…
  • additional macros

18. FileZilla

FileZilla is a fast and reliable FTP client that packs a ton of useful features. This is by far the best free FTP client that I have found.

19. RoboForm

RoboForm will help you navigate the Web with ease. It is the top-rated password manager and web form filler that will allow you to browse the Web faster than ever.

20. Google Calendar

Organize your life with Google Calendar. You can use Google Calendar to set up automatic event reminders, add important events with a single click, and use the built-in search tool to keep track of all your events.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential GTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need a Braindump, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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