Staying productive with Chrome

Although Chrome browser has been around for couple year I’m relatively new user. Before my browser of choice was Firefox which I switched away from mainly due to performance issues.

Besides being a straight up browser Chrome is also an ecosystem of extensions and applications which can run inside it. Most are designed to run online but many can store the information locally and run offline. This means that if you don’t require powerful applications you could completely live and work in Chrome. Jeff Jarvis, one of the hosts of This Week in Google podcast is experimenting with doing all his work on Chromebook which effectively is a netbook computer with only Chrome on it.

If you like to keep things simple, remain productive with your job and don’t mind relying on the cloud you might consider Chrome as your productivity platform.

Since I’ve been relying on Chrome more and more I would like to share some of the extensions and applications I’ve used to keep things productive and effective. I’ve divided them in to couple categories each with few suggestions to look at:

Email & Calendar

Gmail – you may like it or not but Google offers almost unparalleled access to solid email solution that works everywhere and the offline Gmail solves any problems with lack of connectivity. Google Calendar – I’m yet to find anything better than this. Whether it’s for personal or business user Google Calendar offers wealth of features, multiple points of access, sharing and more.

Calendar reminder – once you’re logged into your Google account this extension will show time to your next event and give you a reminder once it’s time.

Reference Material

Evernote – in short it aims to be your external brain. You can store text, images, audio, pdfs, clippings etc. It’s one of the more popular and feature rich applications that will help you store your ideas, plans, projects and reference materials. Work both in the browser as well as through native clients. Don’t forget about related neat extensions from Evernote Corp. The only down side is that their web version does not work offline yet.

Springpad – Evernote’s competitor, has very similar feature set and in some respects exceeds the Evernote, it runs on the web and mobile only.

Pinboard – a web based bookmarking service. It has simple visuals but it’s a powerful tool for managing pages you want to keep for later. Although I do use Chrome’s build in bookmarks Pinboard is my default long term storage solution. Pinboard Keyboard – is a small extension which adds keyboard shortcuts to Pinboard allowing you to manage your bookmarks without a mouse. Great time saver.

Todo

There is a plethora of applications for managing your todo list and you need to choose one that fits your needs. I won’t go into detail of each but simply mention couple of them which are worth having a look and these include: Remember the MilkWunderlist,AstridAny.doTodoistGoogle Tasks

You need to find something that works the way you work and helps you get things done. If by any chance you decide on Remember the Milk you can find some resources on my site.

Writing & Ideas

It used to be that for writing you needed a powerful word processor with hundred of options and functions. Over the last year I’ve learned that’s not the case. A simple text editor or note taking application will be as effective if not more. The bigger programs still have their place but they are no longer a primary tool. For this category the choice is vast starting with already mentioned Evernote through other tools like Google DriveZohoMarkdown and Plain text editors

If you want to move a level up and start with an idea for a project or a document Chrome has you covered too. There is a number of solutions to manage this stage of creative process. Couple examples worth looking at include MindmeisterMindomoMindjet,MindMapr

Since we are on the topic of writing here is a list of notepad apps you can test in Chrome from simple plain text editor to media rich scrapbook replacements.

Reading

Chrome offers a number of apps and extensions which can facilitate help you with staying on top of your reading stacks.

Feedly is my RSS reader of choice ever since Google announced the end of Reader. Still adjusting to it but it’s going well. Very often you come across articles that you want to come back to later. For that I recommend Pocket or Instapaper which unfortunately does not have native Chrome app. However if you decide to go with it I recommend using InstapaperBeyond which lets us do all the actions with one key stroke

Time and task tracking

A side from keeping tabs on your tasks you may take the advantage of other tools which can help you with maintaining a better focus and accountability. One of more popular techniques of instigating focus is working applying a Pomodoro technique. 

  • KanbanFlow
  • Pomodoro,
  • Timeout,
  • Trello,
  • Remember when you’re comparing different apps and solutions whenever you see the small lighting icon this means the app will run offline.

    There are thousands more of different apps and extensions making Chrome a really compelling solution for a simple, web based productivity.