Have you ever had one of those days in which you work really, really hard but get nowhere?

I call that hamster-wheel syndrome (HWS).  Sometimes HWS sets in just because.   Because you are tired, or because you haven’t had a full pot of coffee yet, but a lot of times it is symptomatic of disorganization and an overflowing in-box.  Fortunately there are tools available to help combat HWS.

Everybody has their own set of tools that make them more efficient and I have six favorite tools that I use religiously.  And before you ask, I am not affiliated with these tools and get absolutely nothing for recommending them.

One more thing – they all have FREE starter levels.

paymo-logoPayMo – Every time I build a new website, it involves the same general steps.  With Paymo I can create customized project lists and then save them as templates for future use.  Paymo’s tools include time tracking, online invoicing and file sharing to name a few.  I love the Paymo widget which rests quietly on my computer desktop and allows me to track time/costs without logging into Paymo.  If your business requires time/cost management and project lists, you will want to check this out.

RoboForm logoRoboForm – If you struggle to keep track of passwords, this is your ticket.  I manage hundreds (not joking) of passwords as I maintain clients’ websites and online resources.  I started out with a piece of paper that graduated to a spreadsheet that finally exploded into utter chaos.  At that point I embraced RoboForm, an online password manager.   RoboForm is accessible from your mobile devices and includes auto login.  Whatever website I go to I can log in with one click of my RoboForm tool.

clef-logoClef – Speaking of logging in, even when I use RoboForm, logging in to my websites got pretty tedious until I started using Clef. Not only does Clef make logging in feel very high-tech futuristic”magical” (as Clef calls it), it also adds another layer of security by providing two-factor authentication.  Instead of using a password I merely wave my phone in front of my computer screen and I am logged in!  The only password I need to remember is the password for Clef.

Evernote LogoEvernote – If you haven’t tried Evernote you are missing out on an indispensable resource.   Evernote employs hundreds of elephants that remember your stuff (or so the advertisements say).  I use Evernote to clip and save website articles, jot notes, save receipts, etc.  It’s all safely stored in Evernote and I can access my notes from any device.  I use categories, tags and comments to easily find specific notes.   There are many useful tools under the Evernote umbrella and my recent favorite is Skitch which allows me to take a quick screen snap, add annotations and paste it into an email or document.

Toodle Do LogoToodledo – I have tried many different “to-do” list tools but Toodledo gives me the best suite of features for my particular needs.  I can access Toodledo from my mobile devices.  I love the timer feature that allows me to track how long a task takes.  Filters, alarms and schedulers help me manage my time more efficiently.

A simple clock timerTimer – I saved the most high-tech solution for last.  It’s the timer on my iphone. When I really need to focus on a task I turn off email and other distractions and set my timer for a 45 min. to 1 hour block.  Then I dive in. When the timer goes off it’s time to move on to something else.  Setting time limits forces me to complete the task in a specified amount of time (hopefully).  It’s amazingly effective and beautifully simplistic.  And chances are you have a timer on your computer or phone already.

Armed with these tools I spend a little less time on the hamster wheel and a little more time checking off tasks on my Toodledo list.

Time to toss the wheel and get moving!