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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 August 6, 2019

              Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

              Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

              Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

              So what changed?

              I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

              My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

              Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

              But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

              1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

              Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

              If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

              Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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              How to Tackle It?

              Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

              For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

              Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

              2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

              This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

              The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

              How to Tackle It?

              Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

              If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

              Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

              3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

              This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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              The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

              The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

              How to Tackle It?

              Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

              For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

              A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

              If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

              4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

              Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

              Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

              How to Tackle It?

              It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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              Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

              For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

              Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

              In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

              5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

              This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

              Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

              However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

              How to Tackle It?

              Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

              Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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              Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

              If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

              Bottom Line

              I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

              You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

              I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

              I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

              Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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