5 Digital Tools to Help You Work Smart

We’ve all been there. It’s 1:30PM on a Tuesday, and you’re knee-deep in a project that is going to make or break the next five years of your life.  You’re a complete wreck. You’ve begun to drown in a sea of wire-frames, post-it-notes, instant messages, and e-mails.  The desktop on your computer looks like a battlefield.

No matter how much you’re doing, working this way just might guarantee that nothing is getting done despite having worked for three days straight.

But, wait. There’s hope.

There are tools out there with the sole purpose of helping you get more done, more efficiently.

Evernote – This is probably the single most-used program on my computer. Not only does it allow you to make notes and give your ideas a place to live outside of your head, it lets you organize them into separate “notebooks” and then refine them further by keywords. Evernote also supports images, audio, and video across PCs, Macs, Android, iPhone and iPad. No more forgotten “million-dollar-ideas.”

Remember The Milk – Think of a to-do list. Now, imagine that it’s on all of your computers and your phone. Let’s add the ability to prioritize and sort your tasks, and even the ability to sync with Windows Mobile, Outlook and Blackberry. Yeah. Win.

Google Docs – Microsoft Office is a pretty big deal. Anytime someone emails a document or a spreadsheet, there’s a good chance it was made with Microsoft Office. But what if you start working on a document on your laptop at home and then go to work and it’s somehow disappeared?

Enter Google Docs, fully compatible with Microsoft Office, and entirely web-based. All of your documents are stored and edited online, freeing you from the fear of ever losing or misplacing them. Let Google handle it.  This is also a great tool to use when you need to collaborate on a document or spreadsheet.  No more e-mailing around updated versions of the same file.  And best of all, it’s free with a (again, free) Google account.

Basecamp – Project management to the max. Create a company profile and divide everything up by project. Each project page will have it’s own place to upload files and pictures, and even it’s own place to communicate, eliminating the need for massive email conversations. Throw in daily email updates on project activity, and hey: you’ve got 50% of your workflow laid out.

Livescribe – This last tool isn’t necessarily an application, but a combination of an application and the coolest pen ever created. Using the Livescribe Pen and special Livescribe notebooks, you can record audio with the pen while you take notes and it syncs them together. Touch a word in your notes later that day, hear the audio from when you wrote it. Combine this with the ability to sync, view and backup your notes on a Mac or PC and you just made meetings twice as bearable.

Did you notice the thing that all of these tools have in common? That’s right. They’re all cross-compatible. That old Dell? It can do it. Your son’s MacBook. Yep. Your wife’s iPhone? You betcha.

Are there any tools that you couldn’t work without?