Mike Levin SEO

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Web TooIs for Productivity

by Mike Levin SEO & Datamaster, 06/21/2007

Being unproductive on the web is easy: click over to YouTube, surf Facebook profiles or go on a Wikipedia binge for a couple of hours. But thanks to the many free and useful new applications on the web, it’s also getting easier to keep your life in order. For the next installment of our “toolbox” series, we take a look at the best services for staying in control of your life on the web.
*Word Processing Services*

Online word processing provides you with ways to manage and write documents without a download - great for collaboration or those using multiple computers.
 Google Docs - A way to create your documents and share them too.
Zoho Writer - Serious competition to Google Docs. There are some options present that Google Docs lacks and of course vice-versa.
ThinkFree - Think Microsoft Office, except this is the online equivalent.
Buzzword - A recently discovered service that is still in private beta. It has many offerings and a slick interface to boot! (Private Beta)
*Web Portals*

You have the potential to be productive the moment you turn on your computer and fire up that web browser. You can have all the information you want and need accessible to you immediately by using one of the following services.* *
* *Netvibes - Generally considered to be the first successful, independent startpage.
 Pageflakes - Pageflakes could be considered the brother-in-law to Netvibes and both have very similar offerings in customization and content.
 iGoogle - If you have a Google account, then the iGoogle comes part of the package deal, and since many of us have Google as our home page anyways, why not give iGoogle a trial?
 My Yahoo - The offerings are somewhat more customizable than iGoogle, but essentially the same concept from a different provider.
* Calendar Services*

Let’s say you have your parent’s anniversary, project deadlines, and finally taking the family pet to the vet all coming up this week. Having all these things on a calendar is undoubtedly the way to go for keeping track of these events. Unless you prefer writing it on your hand…
Google Calendar - I personally use Google Calendar on a daily basis. It is just that freaking awesome!
Yahoo! Calendar - Yahoo provides a pretty good, but basic, calendar application for organizing your life
30 Boxes - Has a lightning fast interface that is really easy to navigate makes this a good contender.
Kiko - A very nice calendar application with a drag & drop interface.
*Contact Management Services*

Your cell phone and e-mail program are likely your primary sources for keeping information about your contacts. This is fine. You must ask yourself though, what happens if your cell phone is lost, your webmail account goes down or you lose all the data on your computer? You are pretty much screwed. Time to rethink the way we do contact management.
Plaxo - One of the best known services which allow you to keep track of contacts. Other services that can tap into your Plaxo account and utilize your contacts with your permission.
Tabber - was created with the notion of linking together friends from many social sites and services, but it still serves very well as an address book and contact management application.
Highrise - A premium option to manage your business contacts. If you are more serious about keeping your contacts and have hundreds of them, this could be a cost efficient solution depending on your needs.
HyperOffice - Another premium service that offers control of your contacts. This is for more serious contact management.
*News Readers*

* *Why bother with the daily newspaper when you can receive all your information through the Internet? These news readers will help you stay on top of current events with nothing but a browser and a connection.
Google Reader - If you would like a straight and simple news reader, then Google Reader might be worth your time to check out.
Bloglines - A competitor to Google Reader, and offers most of the same services, just a matter of personal taste as to your selection.
Netvibes - Netvibes, as well as being a web portal, serves the other critical purpose of being a news reader for any page that provides an RSS/ATOM feed.
 Pageflakes - Like Netvibes, provides RSS modules and can be used as a news reader.
*Communication Services*

Stickam - If live video conversations are your thing, then Stickam provides you an excellent opportunity to mingle with friends, coworkers, or just random people if you so desire. We wouldn’t use it for business calls, though.
Google 411 - This service from Google is likely something you have never tried before, but once you do, you might use it for a long time coming. A good 411 replacement. (US Only)
 Meebo - If you prefer to communicate with friends and colleagues through IM, then Meebo is the site for you to do it all in one easy to use program.
 Gmail - The king of e-mail? We think so. Much more efficient at handling large volumes of email than rival services.
*Charting & Diagram Services*

Ever heard of brainstorming? Of course you have! Well, the following applications follow the same line of thought, but now you can throw your ideas in charts and diagrams often referred to as “mind maps” to plan any future project you may attempt. I personally use these types of applications very often.
Flowchart.com - The title says it all really. Flowchart allows you to create charts and diagrams in a nice drag & drop interface. (Private Beta)
MindMeister - Offering both a free and premium version, MindMeister focuses on collaboration in an easy to use “mind mapping”environment.
Mind42 - Yet another “mind mapping” web app that allows you to collaborate with others. This one is completely free.
Gliffy - Likely the most technical and detailed option on this list. It has many more options available than the others.
*Mapping Services*

If you need to find out where you are going, and how to get there, these tools can help prevent (or at least reduce) the amount of times you get lost on those long road trips.
Google Maps - Recently has taken over as one of the best mapping tools out there. Not only does it have streets, but you can get an insane amount of data displayed on Google Maps through other services like StreetAdvisor.
Yahoo Maps - Google has obviously driven Yahoo to improve its mapping services, and it shows here.
Mapquest - A very reliable source for getting you from point A to point B.
*File Storage Services*

Box.net* *- A very nice solution to uploading and backing up your files, as well as sharing them. You can sign up for free and get a gig of space, or you can have additional storage with the premium options.
* *MediaMax - Another powerful and useful service to regularly back-up all your important data.

Got more services to add? Leave us some feedback in the comments section.
Also in this series:
The Ultimate RSS Toolbox - 120+ RSS Resources
Blogging Toolbox: 120+ Resources for Bloggers
*Recommended*: Piczo Layouts at Mashcodes!