Thing 13. Online Productivity Tools

While it may seem that the Internet is populated by people with endless time on their hands who are out to torpedo our productivity, there really are Web-based applications that can improve productivity--or at least make some things easier.

These applications fall into a variety of categories including online office tools like spreadsheets and word processing, calendars, start pages, project management tools, to-do lists, personal organizers, sticky notes, online collaboration tools, and much, much more. A search on “online productivity tools” turns up many lists of these tools.

We have already introduced you to some productivity tools—RSS aggregators like Bloglines do save time as you keep up with the news and information you need. is a tool that makes bookmarking more efficient. You tried other productivity tools, like GoogleDocs and Zoho, in Thing 9. Online Collaboration Tools.

In this Thing, we have selected several productivity tools for you to try. Here are some tools we think have use in libraries & media centers, as well as at home.
1. Having a customized home—or “start” page—that lets you collect and organize information of importance to you all on one page can be a productivity help. iGoogle, PageFlakes, and My Yahoo! are three places to start. Each lets you choose headlines, weather reports, links to your email and RSS feeds, and dozens of other widgets (or gadgets, in Google) to manage information—or your life. Note that many dgets require a download. So, look at the intro pages for all three of these and choose one to create a customized start page. Add features, delete features, re-arrange the features on your new homepage. Each site will have widgets/gadgets to add and you can find many, many more on the Web. Here's a Countdown widget:

Now you now how much time you have to complete 23 Things On a Stick!

2. Calendar: These calendars all offer similar features—add events, get reminders, search, repeat events, coding, etc. and of course, the hallmark of Web 2.0, the ability to share your calendar online. Google and Yahoo! Calendars integrate with their other services and features. Choose a calendar from this article and try it out.
3. Just about everyone makes lists. Try one of these online list tools to manage your activities. Ta da list or Remember the Milk
4. Some tools roll multiple features—calendars, lists, reminders, etc--into one service. Take a look at Backpack features.

But wait, there’s more! Here are some other tools you can explore on your own:

Online Calendars
30 Boxes

Personal Organizers

Sticky Notes (requires download)

PDF Converters
CutePDF (requires download)


This program will covert one file type to another. Especially handy in libraries that may not be able to open a student or patron file because it doesn’t have the right software.

Really interested in improving your productivity? Here are some lists of tools to explore. Although searching these lists and trying the tools might drain your productivity, at least until you find the tools you need.

Blog Prompts
  • Which start page did you choose? Why did that one appeal to you? Will you make it your permanent home page?
  • Did you find a tool that has some uses for you at the library or at home? Which tool(s) would you recommend to others?
  • How can the online calendars be useful to you?
  • What about the to-do lists—helpful, too much work…?
  • Did you try out Backpack? What did you think?
  • Did you try any of the other tools in the list? Any good ones we should all try?
Challenge (optional)

1. Have a big project that you need to complete? Online productivity tools can help with complicated tasks involving multiple people, deadlines, and activities. Compare and contrast these project management services. Let us know what you think.

Project Management Services
2. Explore more tools from any of the lists above. Share any you find especially useful.


Duane Hawkinson said...

For some reason, my district filter blocked the countdown widget under the category "Personals Dating." Was anybody else blocked out?

biblionut said...

Scrybe is not currently accepting registrations. Just FYI

Jessica said...

The countdown widget was also blocked at our college. I don't know the reason.

jeanne'sblog said...

I got the countdown widget on my page but it doesn't countdown.

jeanne'sblog said...

I was able to get the countdown but it doesn't countdown.

jeanne'sblog said...

Sorry I posted twice I didn't see it show up the first time.

Anonymous said...

No countdown widget on this page for me.

Lean 23 Things on a stick said...

Empty white box instead of countdown widget and I'm not blocked or at work.
Lean 23 Things

Vicky Schluter said...

I also got the white rectangle. But most of the technology does not seen to work on my computer.

fairpan said...

If you can't get the count down widget to work, set the year a year from now or 2009 then it will work.

Shirley said...

I also had trouble with the countdown clock not I searched the web and found a cool & easy clock to add to your blog. It is at

Diane said...

I had the same problems with the countdown widget and for some weird reason I also figured out to set it to one year ahead.

Andrea Pearson said...

If you look at the html code, you will see that for some reason, it sets the year to 2007. (Probably the year it was written.) Edit the code to 2008 and your countdown widget should work.