In my constant quest for improved productivity, I have learned that one of the secrets is exploring what corners you can cut to reach the finish line quicker. There are a number of apps and tools that most of us use everyday — various browser add-ons, mobile apps, software — that help us go from point A to point B in our work as quickly as possible.
But there are also a lot of lesser known tools that you may use less frequently, but have the potential to save you time if you add them to your daily processes. Here are seven of these uncommon productivity-enhancing tools that help me work faster and more efficiently.
If you use written contracts for your work (and you should!), it can take a lot of time to prepare files, send them off and then follow up to make sure you get all of the required signatures. This can often result in a delayed project start. EchoSign is an online electronic signature service that lets you get quick e-signatures on your contracts, track responses and file your documents.
Whether you’re working with code, writing content, or copying and pasting from a word processor to HTML, to it’s useful to have a plain text app handy. Edit Pad gives you the ability to treat your Web browser just like Note Pad or Text Edit by creating text files, then saving them to your local computer. One of the most useful parts of this tool is the the word count and character count functionality.
If you’re anything like me, you have way too many fonts installed on your computer, and it takes you forever to wade through them all to find the perfect font for a project. fontBROWSER lets you type in any text you want in any two sizes and then scroll through your list of installed fonts and see a quick preview of each. You can even view all of the standard keys and special characters in each font with a click.
I love to use sticky notes stuck to my computer to keep track of my top priorities each day. But this method fails me when I’m away from my desk and want to peek at my list, or if I think of something that needs to get added to my list ASAP. Listhings is a simple online sticky note app that lets me ditch my physical note, create one online, then access it from anywhere — other computers, my BlackBerry, etc.
If you don’t always want to start Photoshop or your other comprehensive image editing app for a quick image crop and resizing, then Pic Resize is one of the best productivity tools for you. You upload your image online, and can crop, resize and apply a number of special effects in seconds. This is also the perfect tool if you’re on a mobile device or away from your main computer and all of your normal software.
Have you ever wasted time, trying to get the right part of a website to print? Then, wasted more time trying to get rid of the ads and other superfluous information you didn’t need on the printed copy? What a waste of time, office supplies and trees. PrintWhatYouLike is a free online editor that lets you format any web page for printing in seconds. You can remove ads, change the font size, combine multiple pages, and save your modified page as a PDF or HTML document.
Back to my font addiction, along with my abundant collection comes my lack of ability to remember which font I used where. So sometimes, I end up with a flat graphic and no recollection of what font was used to create it. WhatTheFont lets you upload an image or specify a URL, then it walks you through a series of character selections then spits out the names of a few possible font matches.
What uncommon, unusual or other unconventional tools do you use that help make you more productive?