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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 April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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