We are living through a time where we have access to 1,000,000′s of hours worth of audio programming on any topic you could imagine for FREE. We can produce videos from the comfort of our homes that make blockbusters 15 years ago look like a kindergartner made them. Our calendar, email, dvd player, Nintendo, and boom box are now in our pocket and in one streamlined device.
The problem today isn’t, “what can I do with my computer or smart phone,” but rather, “where do I find the tool to do what I want?”
Back in 2008 Itunes had just 500 apps available in their store. Today, there are over 500,000 with over 15 billion downloads in the past three years. This number only grows when we consider app stores from Google, Amazon, and the web in general.
So from the millions of apps and online productivity tools out there, which have you been missing? Here are ten tools I have found to help me in my work and general productivity.
1. Prezi: Making Presentations That Keep Your Audience on the Edge of Their Seats[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxhqD0hNx4Q[/youtube]
Whether you are a struggling student or a thriving CEO, we all rely on presentations. When we hear presentation we immediately think of PowerPoint. But did you know there may be something better?
You see, the “problem” with typical PowerPoint presentations is that they consist of dozens of slides that you are forced to go from point A to point B, which is fine if you have a very simple linear concept to convey.
But, let’s say you have to give a presentation on Astronomy. Good luck keeping your audience awake using power point, no pun intended.
What if instead of putting words on a chart with an occasional picture thrown in, you could map your presentation on a picture of the universe, literally? As you speak about Jupiter your presentation zooms in on the planet, where each bullet point you discuss pans around Jupiter’s rings. When you’re done with Jupiter the presentation flows over to Mars, where each new point zooms closer and closer to the surface.
That’s the magic of Prezi. Instead of the typical 2d approach of powerpoint, you are given a canvas to travel in what ever manner you imagine.
2. Google+: Collaboration at Your Fingertips[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwnJ5Bl4kLI[/youtube]
A few weeks ago we talked about Google’s aim for the professional with their new social network so I won’t go into detail here.
Suffice it to say, Google+ has a number of tools that can greatly benefit your productivity. Whether you need group video calling, online bookmarking for your next blog idea, or want to create a private community on a social network, Google+ can help you.
Check out our blog if you want to read more about the professional uses of Google+.
3. Splashtop: Remote Desktop from Your Smartphone to Your PC[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFKlkbBPVps&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]
I first came across Splashtop when I was looking for a solution to running flash on an Ipad. What I found however, provided much more.
Splashtop is a tool that allows you to remotely connect to your pc from your smartphone or tablet. So whether you need to update your Excel spreadsheet, or just want to watch some movies, Splashtop can help you.
4. GoAnimate: Simple Animation Software on the Cloud[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTtETTQUJD0[/youtube]
How many of us actually read every word you see on a web page or even a blog post such as this one? I admit, I don’t very often.
So one idea to convey your message in a more entertaining and compelling way is to animate it. GoAnimate is a simple to use tool that allows you to make professionally designed animations.
They provide everything, from the characters, backgrounds, and even the voices. In an hour I’ve been able to make animations that were very compelling and gained several comments and shares.
5. Freemind: Mindmapping Software for the Blueprints of the Mind[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bf0474JIjc[/youtube]
I design some rather elaborate automation systems for our emails, training, and reporting so it helps significantly to have a tool where I can design the system digitally ahead of time.
Freemind is useful for any of the mind mapping needs you may have. I’ve used it for project management, to do lists, and especially campaign design.
If you haven’t used a mind map software before, I highly recommend trying Freemind today.
6. Gimp: Taking Microsoft Paint to the Next Level[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LmW5ndnEqw[/youtube]
Unless you are a graphic designer or fashion photographer, your typical photoshop needs don’t go much further than some simple cropping, resizing, and color fill.
Gimp is a great open source tool that falls in between Microsoft Paint and Adobe Photoshop. If Paint just isn’t doing it for you, I highly recommend trying out Gimp. It’s easy to use and has the most common photo editing tools people use.
7. Google Docs: Real-time Document Editing[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epYTQ4lHdnQ&feature=player_profilepage[/youtube]
You have a crucial meeting in a month and your team is in charge of presenting their results to the board of directors. One of the challenges you face is how to make it easy for everyone on the team to contribute to the presentation without worrying about saving over someone’s changes, editing an older version, or repeating what others already added.
Google Docs lets you upload your common word, spreadsheet, and presentation documents to the cloud where anyone you choose to share them with can have access to view and update the docs. Now you don’t have to worry about saving each version of your presentation with a different ending to keep them straight.
There is a whole lot more you can do with Google Docs, if you want to look further I suggest watching these videos.
8. Basecamp: Online Project Management[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NopMQ6bB4dU[/youtube]
Many times you have projects that rely on several teams or people. It’s easy for tasks to become disorganized and priorities lost.
Basecamp allows your team to see what action items are involved with each project, along with due dates, who has responsibility, and updates.
I’ve used it to coordinate several projects between webmasters, outsourcers, and our internal teams.
9. PocketCasts: Your One Stop Podcast Tool[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/20643630[/vimeo]
Like many of you, I spend two hours a day commuting to work and home each day, so finding valuable use of that time is important. I am a fan of podcasts, but they aren’t the easiest to organize on your phone.
Many times I had to remember the sites I liked and look them up individually to see if a new episode was released. Sometimes I’d start streaming a podcast only to have several connection problems based on the reception I had along the commute.
PocketCasts has been a major blessing. This one app alone lets me find my podcasts whether they are on itunes or their own sites. It lets me choose whether I want to download an episode or stream it, and automatically deletes them when I’ve finished. It remembers which podcasts I listen to and automatically updates my library with new episodes.
No more searching, losing reception, or any other issues.
10. Slideshare: Making Your Presentations Sharable[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9ShKOeMKb0[/youtube]
The #1 question an audience asks after seeing a presentation is, “Will the slides be available?” Slideshare is a perfect solution, allowing a quick way to upload your PowerPoint or other docs to the cloud where you can then easily embed them on your site or pass a link to whoever needs them.
It’s quick, easy, and really a no-brainer if you find yourself making and sharing tons of presentations.
Your Turn. What Online Productivity Tools Would You Add?
I’ve only listed a few of the online productivity tools I’ve been using recently, but I’m well aware that these aren’t the only ones out there.
What tools do you recommend for our readers?
image courtesy of sethmeranda