This guest post is by Leo Widrich of Buffer.
After Google+ entered the social networking scene not so long ago, the number of online distractions hasn’t really decreased.
At the same time, innovations and smarter solutions to handle your actions online have fortunately continued to thrive too. Instead of the usual to-do lists, news readers, or sharing tools, they tackle things in new and more helpful ways.
What’s most important for me, is that they slot right into my workflow, and allow me to become more efficient without changing my behavior. A few apps recently managed to do so brilliantly.
Here are my favorite new tools to help you stay focused and use the Web more innovatively.
Do you ever have that feeling of random thoughts and ideas floating around in your head, but there is no optimal solution to jot them down? With SimpleNote, I found a fantastic way to finally write down things in a very intuitive manner. The Chrome extension lets me write things down fast and easily. On top of this, it stores it very intelligently in folders, simply by adding tags.
Workflow tip: The app integrates with a lot of already existing apps to make note-taking inside them even easier.
Try it out here: SimpleNote
2. Let’s Crate
If you think the likes of Dropbox or Box are making filesharing easy already, you might be surprised as what Let’s Crate can do. Without any signup or signin process, you can start adding your files right on the landing page. The service automatically generates a link that you can share, embed in blogpost, or send via email. It truly simplifies my online life.
Workflow tip: If you do decide to get an account with the app, you can easily turn it into your online storage system, add folders, and use it as a backup.
Try it out here: Let’s Crate
This is one of the smartest inventions I’ve seen recently. The app is actually a to-do list that automatically turns into a calendar based on the entries you make. It uses super-simple syntax to understand the time and creates a calendar as you type a new to-do item. So, say for example, you write “Tomorrow, 5pm, blogpost due for Mrs. White” and the app automatically detects it and creates an entry in your calendar as well as a to-do item.
Workflow tip: The best part here is that you can set up a bot inside Google Talk, which will remind you right inside Gmail whenever a task is due.
Try it out here: Coolendar
As a full time blogger, my skills in design and programming are very limited. Yet, being able to express myself clearly is more vital than ever. A better blog layout is a crucial component of blogging success these days. With Mockflow, you can create powerful wireframes that facilitate working with designers and programmers a great deal. There exist a wide range of tools and templates to make them look pretty, and are easy to implement.
Workflow tip: What I like best is that the app also works offline, so if you are wireframing on the go, you never have to worry about connectivity.
Try it out here: Mockflow
As a blogger, my main focus is to produce the best content I can write each day. Of course, keeping up with the great posts my favorite blogs write is vital here. Yet knowing what the really good bits are is sometimes tricky. Help comes from StrawberryJ.am. The app orders all the Tweets from your stream on the basis of most mentioned and retweeted. So at one glance, you will see the hot and most-discussed news items in your timeline.
Workflow tip: If you really don’t want to open another site each day, simply subscribe to your own top news and the app will deliver updates straight to your inbox.
Try it out here: StrawberryJ.am
This is a piece of innovation I would never have thought could be useful. Yet Do It Tomorrow slots perfectly into my workflow. I am usually the kind of person that puts way to many to-do’s on the list for one day. With this neat Android app, I create a simple to-do list of the things I need to get done and never worry about putting too much on my plate.
Workflow tip: By simply tapping on the little arrow, a to-do gets pushed onto the next day. You’ll never lose to-do’s you didn’t get to.
Try it out here: Do it Tomorrow
7. Oh Life
You will most likely know that the benefits of writing are plentiful. One of the most important factors for me is to order my thoughts. Oh Life takes a very new approach to making it easy for you to write down your thoughts about life. Every evening, the app will send you an email asking “How did your day go?” By hitting Reply, your entries will be safely stored as an online journal.
Workflow tip: Going through my personal Oh Life stories every once in a while helps me a great deal to focus and recap what I am working on.
Try it out here: Oh Life
I found that one of the most important things when speaking to someone via email is to really understand what the person is all about. Rapportive is a Chrome extension that slots right into Gmail and gives you a new tab of information all related to the person you are speaking to. This includes recent tweets, information from Facebook, LinkedIn data, and much more. You can build a rapport with them immediately and fully understand what they are all about.
Workflow tip: Very recently, the app has added a functionality to allow you to reply to tweets right from inside Gmail. This facilitates interaction a lot, I’ve found.
Try it out here: Rapportive
This is my extra tool for you, as, different from all the others, it focuses on your physical shape. For a healthy online workflow, the Latin saying of “Mens sana, in corpore sano” (healthy mind, healthy body) is something I follow very closely. The app allows you to enter into online challenges with others, keep track of your weight, and have fun staying in shape with others. You can create teams, challenge each other, or use it strictly for personal use to keep track of your exercise.
Workflow tip: I particularly like the Social Network behavior of Skinnyo. It makes it easy to see how others are doing and keeps me motivated.
Try it out here: Skinnyo
These are my favorite tools to make the most of my day online. How about you? Do you think some of them could be useful for you too? Are there others you can add?