Advertising
Advertising

Top 20 Free Applications to Increase Your Productivity

Top 20 Free Applications to Increase Your Productivity
Keyboard

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

Advertising

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

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

Advertising

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.

More by this author

How to Live on a Tight Budget Top 10 Ways to Use del.icio.us Top 20 Free Applications to Increase Your Productivity 101 Steps to Becoming a Better Blogger Motivational Quotes to Keep You Going

Trending in Featured

1 Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor 2 9 Practical Ways to Achieve Work Life Balance in a Busy World 3 50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time 4 8 Steps to Continuous Self Motivation Even During the Difficult Times 5 Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on June 12, 2019

Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

#10. Look for Joy in Life

An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

  • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
  • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
  • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
  • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

#9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

  • 13 Movies
  • 11 TV Shows
  • 5 Words or Phrases
  • 19 Personal Stories
  • 5 Cartoons
  • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
  • 11 Comedians
  • 7 TV Personalities
  • 7 Funny Photos
  • 7 People You Know
  • 15 of Anything Else
  • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

Advertising

#8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

  • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
  • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
  • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
  • Times of change or learning
  • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

#7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

  • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
  • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

#6. Understand Your Audience

Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

Advertising

  • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
  • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
  • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
  • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

#5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

  • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
  • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
  • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
  • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

#4. Get over Yourself

Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

Advertising

You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

  • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
  • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
  • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

#3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

  • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
  • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
  • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

#2. Surround Yourself with Joy

If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

Advertising

Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

#1. Dive into the Fun

Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
  • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
  • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

Read Next