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26 Free Cross-Platform Productivity Apps to Help You Get Things Done

26 Free Cross-Platform Productivity Apps to Help You Get Things Done

    There are a lot of fantastic productivity apps out there that cost a decent chunk of change like OmniFocus, Things, Microsoft Office Suite, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t free alternatives that are just as good or even better.

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    You can essentially become a productivity machine without spending a penny (except for an internet connection that is). Here are 26 free productivity apps to help you get things done.

    1. Remember the MilkRemember the Milk has been around for quite some time and with the revamp of there iPhone and Android app after the iPad app design, RTM offers the user a simple yet powerful toolset for managing to-dos online.
    2. ToodledoI have been a Toodledo user on and off for about three years and it’s still one of the best to-do apps online. The iOS apps aren’t free, but the web app is and it’s top notch, especially after the redesign.

      • CatchCatch is a cool free app that lets you collect your ideas fast and then share them with others. Catch also has a cool clipper button that you can put on your own site to clip an article inside a user’s catch account.
      • SpringpadSpringpad has turned into a something that you can store notes, web clips, video, links, pretty much everything with and create notebooks for yourself or to share with others.

        • Todo.txt (CLI)If you are a geeky type and have a file named todo.txt (like the good man, Randy Pausch), then you might be geeky enough for Todo.txt. Todo.txt is a free command line tool that allows you to interact with a todo.txt text file to get stuff done.
        • OpenOffice.orgIf you can’t stand the though of giving Microsoft more money, but want a full bore office suite, then OpenOffice may work for you. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even databases await.
        • Google Docs (Drive)One of the best tools for collaborating on writing projects while in school. Almost everyone has a Gmail account, it’s free, and the collaboration features are awesome. Make documents, presentations, and spread sheets.
        • EvernoteOnce again, if we need to tell you why you need an Evernote account (again), then maybe it’s just not for you. If you want notes, pictures, documents, voice memos, links, etc. synced across the web and multiple operating systems, then please check it out.
        • GmailStill the best free email account and web app around. Tons of storage and great integration with other Google services.
        • AsanaIf you need to work in a team on tasks and projects, we here at Lifehack highly recommend Asana for that. The web interface is clean, fast, and easy to use with a team.
        • OrchestraOrchestra is another great project and to-do list manager that is made for teams and can even be used for personal use.

          • Do.comThese teamwork apps are all the rage right now and do is another beautiful and highly functional free team based to-do list app. According to do’s site you get free unlimited tasks, projects, and users forever.
          • Doit.imDoit.im is a little know gem of a to-do and project manager. There is a free web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, and Windows app that syncs your to-dos everywhere.
          • Outlook.comIt’s pretty (I never thought I would say that about a Microsoft product), it’s fresh, and it’s a great way to use email online. Outlook.com is Microsoft’s newest web email client and I highly recommend it.
          • Office Web AppsThe new Office Web Apps Preview from Microsoft is great. You can create Word, Excel, PowerPoints, or even OneNote notebooks that you can sync with the OneNote app on iOS.

            • BoxNeed 5GB of free backup storage for pictures, video, or any other file? Box.net has you covered. Also you can get iPhone, iPad, and even an Android client to view files on the go.
            • CrashplanCrashplan is a free and paid backup service that will work on all major platforms. The free service can be used to backup locally and even offsite.
            • DropboxDropbox is the glue that holds my life together and is the base of my entire productivity system. Get 2GB for free and start using Dropbox to keep your files everywhere you are.
            • FileZillaI’ve used FileZilla for years on Mac, Linux, and Windows. It’s a dependable way to shuck and jive your files around via FTP.
            • MarkdownNot necessarily an app, Markdown is the only way that I write for the web anymore. There are so many apps that support Markdown, but if you want to simply convert a plain text file to HTML, you can use John Gruber’s script.
            • AstridI remember when I got my first Android phone on Verizon (The Motorola Droid) and Astrid was the only passable to-do list application. It’s changed a lot since them as it now supports teams, but it’s still a fun to-do app to use.

              • ProducteevOne more to-do and project management application. I like Producteev’s idea of “workspaces” and I feel that there tagging systems is pretty good too.
              • LastpassIf you don’t have a password manager yet, go download Lastpass right now and start using it. Password managers are a necessity if you are doing any type of anything on the web, and Lastpass does password management well.
              • FreeMindMindmapping is one of the best ways to get your ideas down fast and then start to connect them together. The interface isn’t the nicest, but FreeMind is a powerful and full featured mindmapping app for Windows or Mac.
              • Google CalendarYou have to keep your day in order. The best web calendar is Google calendar, hands down. Keep your day there.
              • RescueTimeYour time is precious, but it’s hard to know what to change in your day when you don’t know where your time has gone. Use RescueTime for Mac or Windows to help identify where and when you are slacking.

              Do you have any other free productivity apps that you use that didn’t make it to the list? Let us know in the comments.

              (Photo credit: Free tag via Shutterstock)

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              More by this author

              CM Smith

              A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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              Last Updated on June 26, 2019

              How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

              How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

              You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

              We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

              The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

              Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

              1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

              Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

              For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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              • (1) Research
              • (2) Deciding the topic
              • (3) Creating the outline
              • (4) Drafting the content
              • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
              • (6) Revision
              • (7) etc.

              Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

              2. Change Your Environment

              Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

              One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

              3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

              Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

              Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

              My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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              4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

              If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

              Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

              I know some people will out of the way and delete/deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic/extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

              5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

              I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies.

              Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

              As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

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              6. Get a Buddy

              Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

              I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

              7. Tell Others About Your Goals

              This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

              For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

              8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

              What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

              9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

              If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

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              Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not,what can you do about it?

              10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

              Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

              Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

              11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

              At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

              Reality check:

              I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

              More About Procrastination

              Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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