We’ve all been here.
Your desktop is full of never opened documents. Endless distractions lurk behind every corner of the internet. A buzzing smartphone screams with a never-ending stream of notifications. Besides, countless deadlines are whooshing towards You at the speed of Formula One racecar.
How do You manage to get anything done in such a distracting world?
How to avoid the traps of instant gratification to get a step closer to Your goals?
I am grateful for the many tools that I’ve been recommended by my friends, teachers, and colleagues. They help me to stay efficient and overcome even the most enormous obstacles as a modern knowledge worker.
In this post, I want to share some of these tools with you. Perhaps you already know some of them or even use them daily. Otherwise, they will come in handy during your journey.
Here are 17 digital tools that I think every up-to-date knowledge worker could use to improve your workflow, organization, concentration, presentations, writing, research and more.
Graphic Design Tools
I like Canva. My girlfriend loves Canva. My university friends enjoy Canva. Heck, I bet even my mom would use it if she needed to design beautiful pictures for social media or an ebook (highly unlikely though). Canva is a simple, intuitive web-based graphic design tool for everyone, regardless of your graphic design knowledge and experience. It offers many templates and can even make a beginner look like a seasoned design wolf. The best part? It’s totally free of charge.
BeFunky editor may not be as intuitive as Canva, but it has more advanced image editing features. You can edit pictures as well as create collages, add texts and more. It’s a convenient option for quick editing on-the-go because you don’t even need an account to use it.
Grammarly is a useful sidekick for every writer. It’s always good to have someone check your work, so if you’re not working with an editor, than Grammarly is your best automatic bud. It can’t make up for an actual human editor, but it can help you dodge some shameful blunders.
GradeProof is another auto-proofreading tool to consider. Like Grammarly, it checks your work for clarity typos and improved readability. The cool thing about GradeProof is it’s Google Docs integration, which makes life much easier if you polish your articles there.
Hemingway App is a free online text editor designed to make your writing clear and concise. It shows your readability score and highlights the parts you could improve. But beware, it’s not right 100% of the time. If you followed every suggestion, texts might lose your unique voice and style. Pay attention to the recommendations, and don’t implement everything, especially if you feel they make your writing toneless and dry.
One of my favorite writing tools, Ludwig is a linguistic search engine which looks for similar sentences with look-alike words, expressions, idioms or sentence structures in credible publications. That way you can check whether your word choice is appropriate. It’s a lifesaver app when you find yourself in a quandary or want to be precise in your writing.
Time Management Tools
Now here is a riddle for you – who watches you all the time and records everything you do online? If you guessed FBI, Mark Zuckerberg or marketers, you might be right, but that’s not what I had in mind.
Rescue Time is a time tracking tool that counts the time you spent on a computer or smartphone and turns it into visual charts. You can use it to identify which websites or apps consume most of your time and work to avoid that.
One thing that works wonders for getting things done is timely deep work periods and well-organized breaks. Pomodoro Tracker promotes the necessity of having timely, routinely breaks in your work. Using the famous Pomodoro technique, you set to work for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break for social media, email, a snack, or anything else. Use Pomodoro to manage your workflow in the most efficient way.
A well planned day keeps distraction away. Google Calendar is a simple calendar to schedule your meetings and activities. You can also sync it to your smartphone to have your calendar everywhere you go.
I would recommend this plugin for all Chrome users. Everyone has to deal with sudden itches to visit Facebook, YouTube or Reddit whenever there’s something that must be done. This is where Todobook steps in. It turns your distracting feeds into a to-do list. Simple and effective!
Notes and organization
I’ve had a chance to work with both Word Online and Google Docs for several years now, and Google Docs beats Office any day of the week. Google Docs is the best option to collaborate and organize your documents. Write and edit your papers, share them with others, type using your voice and enjoy one of the best digital working tools there is for free!
Evernote is the mother app of note-taking. It’s a cloud-based notebook that will help you to organize your notes however you see fit. It allows you to save bookmarks, websites, lecture notes, links and other files in one place and never lose them again. Besides, you can tag and sync them between your computer, tablet, and smartphone so they will always be with you.
Trello is one of the simplest project management tools out there. It’s free, easy to use and shows the entire project workflow on a single board. Because of these reasons, Trello is one of the most attractive collaboration systems on the web.
Information & Learning
It’s a pity when you spend much time abroad but do not learn a single sentence in a local language. If you do want to work on that, thou, you will truly appreciate what Duolingo has to offer. More than 20 free language courses will help you to break any international barrier. Of course, you won’t turn into a fluent speaker overnight, but even knowing some basics can help you to feel so much more welcome.
Sci-Hub is a controversial one, but I’ll just leave it right here. It is the academic journals and research database where you can find access to the most of the information that otherwise can be found only behind the paywalls. Now I think that humanity’s knowledge should be freely available to everyone in need, yet most academic journal publishers will disagree. Despite that, not everyone can afford hundreds of euros to access certain information. That’s why Sci-Hub is also illegal in many countries, so use it carefully and in accordance with laws in your region.
Ludus is a presentation platform to craft astounding, interactive presentations loaded with 3D models, GIFs, animations and other cool things. Use it to make an impressive presentation whenever you need to present your best!
Do you need CC0 pictures, illustrations or videos? Pixabay has you covered. It’s one of my favorite free image databases online, and I’m sure you’ll love it, too.
Every video creator knows that clips without music are dull and dry. If you are one, you probably spend hours searching for a perfect, royalty free soundtrack on YouTube. Forget it! Jukedeck is an AI-powered soundtrack editor that lets you make music for your videos. It has many templates and offers different styles for every occasion.
It is up to every one of us to master our trade and deliver on demand. It is also up to us to employ the tools that facilitate our productivity instead of limiting us.
What are your favorite tools and why?