7 Free Tools to Organize and Prioritize Your Writing Life

by | Jan 31, 2014 | Craft | 29 comments

Do you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed by the ever growing list of things to do? Managing your daily tasks can become its own full-time job.

Thankfully, there are plenty of apps and tools to keep you organized and focused. Here are seven free tools that help you streamline your daily lists and notes, leaving you more time to dedicate the projects most important to you.

Take notes and manage to-do lists

1. Evernote

Overview: Evernote is the most flexible of the note-taking tools. You can tag each note with keywords, making your files easily searchable and accessible even when you have hundreds of notes. You can attach files, format your notes, and include tables, checkboxes and lists.

Stand out features: The reminders feature emails you a list of things due each day, creating an efficient way to automate your daily to-do list.
If you want to use Evernote to work with teams and share notes across groups, you must purchase their premium service.

Evernote is available for Android, Apple and as a downloadable application for any computer. There’s also an online interface that allows you to work from any computer.

2. Trello

Overview: Trello’s drag-and-drop interface is easy to use, but it is the least robust of the to-do list tools. The main benefit of Trello is it allows free access for multiple users.

Stand out features: You can color-code, use hyperlinks and include checklists in your individual projects.

The premium service allows you to log in through your Google account, and sync your to-do list with your daily schedule.

Trello is available for both Android and Apple mobile, but only Windows 8 for your computer. Otherwise, you must use the Trello web interface.

3. Todoist

Overview: Todoist is simple to use and easy to navigate. You can tag your tasks for easy searching as well as organize them by group or task. Formatting options for tasks, however, are limited.

Stand out features: Todoist allows you to set priorities within your tasks and lets you create sub-projects and hierarchies within your task list. The Todoist productivity feature lets you see how much you’ve accomplished in the last week.

Todoist has the most flexible options for mobile devices, operating systems, and platforms. Unfortunately, adding notes and attaching files is a premium-only feature.

4. Google Calendar + Tasks

Overview: Google is the king of free organization apps. The tasks and calendar fit together seamlessly, and it’s easy to set reminders for both tasks and meetings to appear either in your email or as pop ups.

Stand out features: Google gives you free access not only to scheduling and tasks but to a host of features that help you organize your time, maintain your files and keep track of your websites and business.

Google Tasks aren’t as intuitive as the other to-do list tools, but the sheer number of options available to you via Google makes the learning curve worth the effort. You can access it online and from all mobile devices.

Schedule Your Time

5. Youcanbook.me

Overview: Youcanbook.me automates your meetings. You set a calendar according to days and times you’re available, then simply send your calendar link to clients or colleagues when you want to schedule a meeting.

Stand out features: Both you and meeting attendees receive an email with pertinent meeting details. You can design your calendar to match your website as well as include your company logo.

The service connects with your Google Calendar to automatically create meeting entries as well as assure you don’t double book your time.

Measure Your Productivity

6. RescueTime

Overview: You think you’re just quickly checking Facebook or email and then you’ll get back to work? RescueTime lets you know exactly how fast those moments add up to a big waste of your time.

Install RescueTime on your computer, then rate websites, tasks and applications on a scale of very productive to highly distracting. RescueTime logs the amount of hours you spend on your computer and then lets you know how much of that time was actually productive.

Stand out features: You receive a weekly emailed report of where you used your time and exactly how much of it was used productively.

It can be a bit of a shock at first to see exactly how much time you’ve wasted, but awareness — and perhaps a bit of shame — allows you to tweak your computer usage, making your work time more efficient.

Work with a team

7. Asana

Overview: Asana streamlines processes for teams to work together so that all members of the team can easily update and be updated. It is free and accessible via any internet browser. Asana’s options make it ideal for managing anything from customer relations to keeping track of pitches.

The interface isn’t as intuitive to use as some of the other options, but its gallery of helpful videos will get you started.

Stand out features: You can sign in via Google, sync with your calendar and add team members and tasks from your email and social media accounts.

There’s no one perfect solution to keep track of what you have to do, but these free tools certainly make it easier. It takes a bit of trial and error before you know which will work best for you, but once you find your own process, you can keep track of everything you need and automate some of the more tedious details, leaving you more time to write, make contacts and develop your writing career.

What are your favorite free productivity tools?