Over the years I have found a few tools that I really like and use to run my life. I find that using tools to keep my life organized helps reduce my stress level. The biggest problem, I suffer from is lack of focus. These tools give me a little piece of mind by giving me reliable storage of information that I can retrieve later. By not having all of this extra stuff in my brain all the time it helps to lower my stress level.
Here are my most used tools:
Keepass – Password safe. This is a great tool for storing all the passwords I have to various web sites and financial institutions. It is available for free under the GNU public license from https://keepass.info. Keepass features include synchronize files with other Keepass files, password generation, and evaluation of password strength. The encryption is good and provides more protection than writing the passwords down and leaving them under your keyboard.
Evernote – My extended brain. Evernote is a great tool for collecting information online for later reference. You can sign up for a free account at https://evernote.com. The free account limits you to 50 Mb per month; the paid account gives you up to 500 Mb per month. One of the things I really like about Evernote is the ability to access your information in several different ways. The first method is using a web browser from my desktop or from my phone. The second way is using the Evernote Windows Client. The third way is using an iPhone or Android App. Notes can be created manually by cut & paste or typed in. Note can also be emailed in. There is a Firefox plugin that allows you to capture a note in one click. The Evernote client is very helpful for organizing your notes adding tags to your notes. The client is my preferred method for using Evernote. One thing I really like the system does Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on all photos uploaded so that you can search for the text in a photo.
Pandora – Streaming Music – Gives my just the music I want to listen to. You only get 40 hours per month of listening for free otherwise it will cost you $40 for the year. You can specify any kind of music and create your own radio station. Go to https://pandora.com to try it out.
Remember the milk – To-do list – Gives me a great way to capture all my to-do items. To-do items can be entered via the web interface or emailed in. Remember the milk allows to-dos to be tagged and viewed by tag. So I usually sort items in about 10 project folders and then tag the items I want to do @NA. All the items tagged with @NA become my to-do list. Go to https://rmilk.com it is free to use. You can become a premium user for $25 per year which comes with a few extra benefits like access to an iPhone and Android app.
3×5 index cards – My Scratch Pads – I have lots of 3×5 index cards around my work space. They are the perfect size to write down notes and track my work for the day.
Gmail – My personal email – I use this Gmail as my email because of ubiquitous access. I can access it via my cellphone, and web browser from just about anywhere. I have most of my email sent there. I have not had to delete anything yet from my email account I have plenty of space. One thing I try with my personal email is to keep my inbox empty by creating a to-do folder and placing items that require an action in that folder. I review that to-do folder on regular basis. Go to https://gmail.com to try it out.
Google Calendar – Let’s me sync my work calendar and personal calendar into one place. I use Google calendar because it give me access to my calendar from both my cell phone and my desktop. I am able to sync with my work Outlook calendar and give insight into my day appointments. Go to https://calendar.google.com
TrueCrypt – My personal encryption choice – I use TrueCrypt to encrypt important data on my flash drives that I carry with me. The encryption is good enough that even the government will have a hard time decrypting the data in the file. With this tool I don’t lose any sleep about carrying around confidential data on a flash drive. If the drive is lost the data on it is completely encrypted and useless to anyone without the password. The most important thing is to choose a good password, the longer the better. You can try TrueCrypt for free at https://www.truecrypt.org/
PDFCreator – I use this to generate PDF files on my desktop system. I try not to print anything on real paper these days. Instead I print anything important to a PDF file then save it in Evernote. The PDFCreator is free under the GNU public license. Go tohttps://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ to download it and try it.