When we think about how to be more successful in focusing on the meaningful work, much of the challenge is in clearing out the clutter created by too many e-mails, chats, Facebook updates and phone calls. Communication clutter can be exhausting, distracting and loaded with guilt of feeling behind. If you ever feel overwhelmed just by looking at the red blinking light on your BlackBerry, you are not alone.
I am a believer in the power of simplicity and always on the lookout for new and preferably free Web apps that help waste less time on the unimportant tasks, like responding to non-urgent emails and logging in project milestones, and staying focused on meaningful work. With this in mind, I’ve rounded up a handful of my favorite apps for staying on track with what counts and fighting back against the digital clutter.
Evernote: keep everything noteworthy in one place.
This digital assistant makes it easy to capture, organize and retrieve virtually anything noteworthy in your life — both work and play. Whether it is things you like, see or hear – Evernote is your ultimate organizing tool. Since this app makes both printed and handwritten text searchable, you can completely digitize your personal files – meetings notes, receipts, screenshots, video clips – anything. I use Evernote to compile all of my creative ideas and inspirations – heaps of article clippings and inspiring photos are now neatly organized and accessible from any computer or smart phone no matter where I am.
Instapaper: the perfect reading list.
The developer of Instapaper, Marco Ament, calls it “a simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” But it’s much more than that – it revives the pleasure of reading and reduces the stress of having to deal with information right away fearing that you will forget about it if you dont. As I stumble upon interesting articles on my GoogleReader, and I don’t have time to read them immediately, I do a “send to Instapaper” and the tool aggregates all the articles I am interested in. You can choose how to read your newly created reading lists — in-print, on your iPhone, or on the computer screen. Instapaper also has full-feature sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and Evernote.
Nudgemail: postpone distracting emails.
If anyone has ever told you, “…Remind me again tomorrow ” in response to your emailed request, send them a link to this app and they will never have that excuse again. NudgeMail lets you set reminders by the hour, day, week, month, or even year so you can decide when to deal with important e-mails. Simply forward the email to NudgeMail indicating when you want to be reminded and it will appear in your inbox at that time. It works with virtually all e-mail services and devices and there is no sign-up or sign-in necessary.
Ge.tt: share your large files within seconds.
There is no news in file sharing online, but Ge.tt takes it to the next level – it makes it very easy and instant. Ge.tt is a free, one-click app that you don’t even need to create an account for, you also don’t need to download any plug-ins — just drag and drop the files you want to share and you are done. The service is instant, you can share the link even before the download is complete – the user on the other end can start downloading a file while you’re still uploading it. How great is that?
There is no silver bullet solution that will slay the digital clutter monster and make you ultra-organized, but the good news is that you can start with one area that requires the most attention. Work on that area for a few weeks or so, then move on to the next one. Take a deep breath, and imagine inhaling order and clarity. Then use one of these great apps to get started! Let me know if you are using any other great clutter-reducing apps that could further streamline my life!