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10 Ways to Stay Organized Online and Boost Your Productivity


Staying organized online is no easy task. With 9 email addresses, 5 to-do lists and documents all over it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything. What if there was a simple way to keep each one in order? Below is a list of 10 methods and tools to help you organize yourself online.

Email Management

Some people send emails, some people send newsletters – I send both. When I needed a way to organize everything I looked for tools that would allow me to do so. There might have been a way to send both types of emails in one shot, but I decided keep business separate from my personal life.

There are many services for managing your basic email address’s. I have tried too many of them. Sure, there’s Yahoo!, AOL, and Hotmail, but I chose to go with the simplest, and best organized one, Gmail. There are features such as filters, labels and gadgets that allow you to customize your email and give you more control.

I haven’t tried many newsletter management services, but the one that I do use I fell in love with immediately. MailChimp is an easy to use, well established platform for managing email newsletters and lists. With MailChimp you get very detailed reports from email campaigns, yet maintains a simple and easy to use interface. In my opinion, this is the way to keep your email lists organized.

There are, however, other services such as Aweber, Constant Contact and Bronto.

Contacts

Everyone has personal contacts and business contacts. Having multiple lists for different contacts is just too hard to keep control of. Plaxo is the solution for this dilemma.

Plaxo is an easy to use and well organized contact management platform. With Plaxo, you can sync your contacts from multiple accounts like Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. You can also import contacts from many email services.

Finance

I know have mentioned Mint before, but for organizing your finances, there is nothing better. To quote myself:

Mint is a great way to securely manage your money online. With multiple mobile apps you can always have access to your account. All of your information is synced and updated  automatically. It is simple to use and great for people who want a better control of their money.

Charts/Diagrams

Sometimes a to-do list doesn’t work for everybody. For some people, a more visual representation of their task list is more beneficial. With the drawing, and spreadsheet capabilities, Google Docs is a great tool for keeping all of your charts and diagrams organized.

Alternatively, Gliffy is one of those amazing websites where you can design, create, share, save, export and print professional looking floor-plans, flow charts, venn diagrams and much more. They have ready-made templates for easy use or you can go free style and draw what you want. With Gliffy’s capabilities you can create an extremely detailed, yet attractive task lists that will make you want to work!

Collaboration

When it comes to collaborating on documents there is really only one place to go - Google Docs. Google Docs is not only for your basic document editing but also for spreadsheets, forms, drawings and presentations. You can create folders on Google Docs for organization and working with others is more or less real-time. There is also a chat window within the interface so you can instant-message each other easily.

If your just looking for a basic typing platform that has a clean user-interface and easy to use, check out TypeWith.me. With real-time editing, a chat box and easy sharing it is a simple, fast and an easy way to collaborate.

File Storage

Sharing documents, pictures, videos and any type of media is always a pain. Email is okay for maybe a document or two, but if your looking to share a folder or continuously share and update files then you need a system like Dropbox.

Dropbox is a free or paid, easy way to store, sync and share files online. Not only is it crucial to have a backup of all important files, but Dropbox makes sharing files – even big ones – much easier. Simply create a sharing folder, select an email address and drop the file in there. You get 2GB of free memory to start, but for every referral you get 250MB extra. Also, if you sign up using a referral link you get 250MB extra. Dropbox makes it easy to keep your files in order and synced in order have access to them at all times. They even have mobile apps!

Task Management

One of the most important ways to stay organized and boost productivity is to keep track of what your doing and the time spent doing it. When you lose sight of your goals, you procrastinate and accomplish nothing which can hurt your business. They are many websites and applications that can help you stay on track but HiTaskRemember The Milk and MakeSomeTime are some of the best options.

HiTask is a clean way to organize your tasks. The drag and drop interface works well to incorporate many of its features like task grouping, categorizing by color, grouping tasks in projects and time logging. You can also chat with your team and share tasks and projects. This is definitely a one stop shop for all your task management issues.

Remember The Milk is a well known task management platform, similar to HiTask. One of the biggest differences is that Remember The Milk is available on the go with apps for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. With Remember The Milk you can locate your tasks on a map; if you need to go somewhere you can get reminders through SMS, or various IM services, like AIM or Google Talk.

MakeSomeTime is your standard task list, but you can time how long certain tasks take you. You can also create invoices to send to clients detailing time spent on certain jobs. Then you can monitor your invoices to see which have been paid and sent. With MakeSomeTime you can be sure your tasks take the appropriate amount of time and that your clients pay accordingly.

Phone

We take our cell phones wherever we go and if you have a smart phone you have all the awesome apps already. What about taking your phone and putting it online, making it accessible from your computer?

Google Voice is an amazing service that not only gives you visual voice mail, but also gives you control of your voice mail and greeting settings online. You can also share voice mails, block callers and have conference calls.

Of course, one of the main advantages to Google Voice is that instead of having a house phone number, a cell phone number and a work number you can have one number – your Google number. When someone calls that number you can control, depending on whose calling which of your real phones to ring. As an example, lets say my boss is calling me. For him, I only want my work phone and cell phone to ring and not my house number. You can make sure you know who is calling you on what number and stay in control of all your phones. Google Voice offers lots of features and can be of real use in boosting productivity and organization.

Social Media Management

Managing all of your social media accounts is challenging regardless how many accounts you have. Those who are looking to take control of all of their social media accounts need a separate platform that combines and simplifies all of them.

One of the most popular services is HootSuite.  Hootsuite is your all-in-one social media management portal.  You can add multiple networks, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and manage them all from one place.

A few other social media management services include CoTweet and TweetDeck. They are both focus on Twitter, but they’ve started also to combine other social networks.

How do you stay organized online? What tools do you use?

  • Abhishek-seekersfind.com

    Hi
    I think this point rocks and have a clear cut theme.
    Thanks for Sharing Them
    Abhishek

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Thanks for the comment!

  • http://moderncommunicator.com David Guzman

    Great article on staying organized, Alex! You have done an excellent job at hitting key highlights from each service.

    Thanks so much for mentioning gliffy. I’ve been searching for a way to be more collaborative with flow charts for projects that I am working on, so I will be sure to give it a go sometime soon.

    Looking forward to reading your next piece!

    -David

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Gliffy is an excellent tool to help manage such projects. Enjoy!

  • Karl Foxley

    I love the amount of tools and resources that are available to manage nearly every part of our lives online.

    I recently started using Cloud Magic, a plugin for Gmail that makes working with your email so much faster and easier (if you can imagine that). In the same post I shared my other must have tool for organizing all my passwords and logins in one handy piece of software (you can read about them by following the CommentLuv link below). :)

    Very useful post.

    Karl

    • Alex Ainsberg

      I agree, there are so many resources to make out lives easier – its just about finding the correct one. I will definitely be checking that out!

  • http://profitsrgood.com Roland Millward

    Great tips by Alex. Like anything in life we need to be organized to use our time wisely. Life online can be very distracting!

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Hahaha, yes it can! Thanks for the comment.

  • http://alexwhalley.com Alex

    Love free resources, and I love being organised – so I think this is the best post ever!!

    LOL!
    Bookmarked and I’ll be back to sample away :)

    NB: I’ll let commentluv show you what I use to automate some things I do online :)

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Who doesn’t love free resources? Haha – enjoy!

  • Cec Plascott

    Great post,

    I’ve been looking for some services such as the one’s listed above to help me manage my time ,especially time online, much better.

    Thanks again!

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Well I hope these help you out. Thanks for commenting!

  • http://www.megabizflakes.com Samuel

    Great post!!!!! thanks for sharing am really! i guess i need to try some of this tools now! lol

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Haha. Go for it!

  • http://twitter.com/christinabent christinabent

    Alex, very nice! Thanks for sharing.

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Thanks for commenting.

  • http://www.joelane.com Colleen

    Thanks for the tip on DropBox Alex. We have some financial files that need to be shared and this will be a great resource.

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Dropbox is also great because the files are automatically synced. Enjoy!

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  • http://www.foundora.com Naimath

    Excellent post, Alex.

    I have been personally using Dropbox, Google Docs, HootSuite. These are some really good recommendations and I think I would have to check out Plaxo, Gliffy and HiTask.

    I have tried few other task management tools in the past, but they weren’t effective enough; hopefully, HiTask can help me become more organized.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Regards

    • Alex Ainsberg

      The ones you use are some of my personal favorites. I think you’ll enjoy those others as well. Let me know how it goes!

  • http://eblogcamp.com Mike

    Very useful tools.. exactly what i am looking for. Thank you very much

    • Alex Ainsberg

      No problem! Thanks for commenting.

  • Clinton Skakun

    Nice set of tools!

    Oddly enough, I use the oldschool tools. Like excel, Simply Accounting and so on.

    Great reference list for the future!

    -Clinton

    • Alex Ainsberg

      For some old school tools work well enough. Never hurts to look around to check out other features. Most of these web apps are much simpler and easy to use.

      - Alex

  • Sajib

    Most of the time I face this problem. I’m online, sitting on a computer, but I don’t do what I should be doing. It’s like feeling too lazy to do something that I’m forced to do rather than free surfing and blogging. :(

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Hahaha. Everyone has this issue. Check out one of the task management applications. If you use it, it will keep you on task!

  • http://juniorbiz.com Nick Tart

    Alright, alright. I’ve seen Mint.com everywhere and it’s about time I follow through on everyone’s advice. I’ll have an account by Sunday. Thanks for making me take action, Alex!

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Haha. Let me know how it goes!

  • Sajib

    Two questions. Is MailChimp free to use? Which one is the better of Hootsuite and Ping.fm?

    • Alex Ainsberg

      MailChimp is free to use with some restrictions. The featured option does not have sending limits and such.

      Personally, I like HootSuite. I recommend trying both and seeing which works best for you.

  • http://social-catalog.com Viral

    What a great article Alex, I really love it. Nice writeup, very clear to me. Thanks for this :-)

    • Alex Ainsberg

      Thanks for commenting :)

  • http://www.foursides.ca James M

    I’ve been using SocialOomph, and the companion software, FollowerHub. SocialOomph is similar to HootSuite, I think, and I did a write up of it (http://bit.ly/axnffo). Murlu posted about Su.pr (http://bit.ly/d4tw7l), and that looks interesting. I haven’t decided whether to stick to SocialOomph or make the switch…

    Has anyone played with Prezi for online presentations at all? Just curious.

  • http://www.memonic.com Alex

    There’s another tool worth considering: memonic.com – It’s your personal online notebook. Try it yourself!

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  • John

    Great list here. I use almost all of these and love ‘em! One that I would change out is LucidChart instead of Gliffy though.

  • http://www.replicon.com/time-clock Employee Time Clock

    How about adding a dedicated time tracking tool to your list? I believe, this will make your stay organized list complete.

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  • Ellis Thomas

    There is no question and no doubt at all that the usage of tools specifically brings the productivity to another higher level. But what are the tools basically that keeps importance is much more important. I liked the list mentioned above but one tool I missed here with which is the one that I have been using is the task management software from Replicon that gets operate in the cloud based platform and manage the things to go in the right fashion and help get organized and streamlined in the segment as such.