More often than not, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all of the tasks on your to-do list. Attempting to allot the appropriate amount of time to accomplishing something, and for the countless distractions that you’ll likely face while you work on it, can sometimes feel daunting and futile. That’s why so many of us turn to productivity tools to help us ease the burden and utilize our time more constructively.
And now, just as the Internet giveth, it also taketh away, as yesterday, Google announced that it was going to be doing away with its Google Reader Web feed aggregator. The company cites a declining user base as the reason for the discontinuation, but many Web workers (and media professionals – go figure) that keep up with their Reader feeds all day, every day were incensed. Naturally, they took their outrage to Twitter, but so far, it hasn’t done much to alter Google’s decision.
The death of Google Reader, and the subsequent outcry, shows just how much Web professionals depend upon their productivity tools to accomplish their various daily tasks. Reader addicts will (and probably already have) find a new RSS aggregator, such as Fever or NewsBlur, but there are plenty of other useful tools that they can utilize to increase productivity. Let’s dig into The Web Professional’s Productivity Toolbox to see if we can find what you may need.
Feedly is easily the most popular, and best, alternative to Google Reader. This free RSS feed aggregator runs on both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers and as a mobile application for both iOS and Android devices. Users can save posts, create categories to organize their various feeds and even choose from six different layout options to pick the look that best suits them.
Even the most successful professionals can get distracted when working on tasks throughout the day, however, Pomodroido aims to change that. This free Android app helps users manage their time better by breaking down work periods into 25-minute intervals, which can be adjusted by the user if desired. Workers take a break after each work period, so that they can start the next interval refreshed and without distractions. Moreover, the app includes a ranking system, which rewards users based on the work that they complete.
Web developers that prefer Google’s Chrome browser (and let’s be honest, that’s probably most of them) can use Chrome Developer Tools to gain access to the browser’s internals and their Web applications. The suite is largely based on WebKit Web Inspector from the WebKit open source project, and includes an Elements panel and tools for resources, networks, scripts, timelines, profiles and audits, as well as a fully featured, user-friendly console.
This handy automation tool, which stands for “if this, then that,” allows users to create their own tasks (recipes) by connecting two channels together. Once each channel has been activated, users create recipes by selecting one channel to signal a trigger that results in an action in a different channel. In other words, If This happens in one channel, Then That happens in the connected channel. For example, you can create a recipe to update your Twitter profile picture when your Facebook picture is changed. This recipe helps Web workers maintain consistent branding across platforms with little effort. Users can connect with 59 different channels through the platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, HootSuite, Gmail and weather.
This online project management software helps businesses streamline their workflows by providing scheduling, collaboration, time tracking, analytics and reporting features. Since it has a particular focus on adding a social element to project management, the platform also includes comment streams for every task and project and the ability to attach notes, documents or images to a task, as well as email integrations that allow users to receive notifications about project updates in their inboxes. Plus, a partnership with Box adds cloud functionality to the solution to make sharing and collaborating on documents easier; the Box integration even provides some advanced document management features, such as desktop syncing, document versioning and access controls for project collateral.
Anyone who produces content for the ’Net will want to leverage this platform; because it helps writers optimize their articles for better audience engagement. InboundWriter does this by identifying popular topics for your audience, offering keyword data that helps writers create articles that will be easier to find in the search results and suggesting article structure ideas for better readability. In fact, the platform is sort of like an online writing coach that uses real-time search and social data to help writers produce better content.
Don’t let Dropbox’s popularity among Web professionals and everyone else fool you, this is a serious tool that has earned all of the acclaim it receives. While many of its alternatives require a Web browser interface, Dropbox can run natively on almost any PC (even those using Linux), as well as mobile devices that run on either Android or iOS. It will also automatically sync your files with all of your local devices, so you can access them from pretty much anywhere, even if you don’t have an Internet connection.
Most businesses have a presence on multiple social sites, which can make posting numerous pieces of content daily on each network very time consuming. This is where social media management platforms like Sprout Social come in handy. Not only can this platform be leveraged to schedule publishing times of status updates throughout the day on a variety of social networks, but it also provides analytics and monitoring tools that provide insights to help users better optimize their posting strategies. Furthermore, Sprout Social offers a mobile app, which allows businesses to manage and monitor their social accounts while on the go.
This planning software helps users combine the important dates on their calendar with everyday tasks that need to be completed, which makes it easier to keep up with commitments. Coolendar is available on the Web and on mobile devices so that no matter where you are, you can keep track of your day. The platform provides a simple list of planning entries, offers alerts that find people regardless of where they are (email, messenger, Web, desktop, mobile, Twitter), allows users to leverage tags to stay organized and makes it simple to create group plans.
As one of the most popular internal communication tools on the Web, Yammer is an enterprise social network that allows users with valid company email addresses to participate in private company conversations. The Yammer platform allows users to segment employees by creating specific groups (such as sales, marketing or IT), as well as makes it easy for employees to collaborate, whether they are in or out of the office, via the Yammer mobile application for Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices. Allison Howen is an Associate Editor at Website Magazine, writing primarily about e-commerce and social media.
About the Authors
Michael Garrity is an Associate Editor at Website Magazine, focusing primarily on search, design and development and affiliate marketing.
Allison Hown is an Associate Editor at Website Magazine, focusing primarily on Ecommerce and Social Media.