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 3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively 2 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 3 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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

    Read Next