10 Tiny Things That Make My Life Easier

by Brad Isaac on May 3, 2008

Beth Ziesenis a blogger at Avenue Z posted her 5 favorite things that make her life easier.

I happen to agree all the shortcuts she listed and have written my comments below her list:

As a sometimes stressed small business owner, I appreciate little things that save time and make my tasks less difficult. Here’s a little list:

1. Recent Documents Lists

2. Avery Write On Tabs

3. The Rules Wizard in MS Outlook

4. Two Screens

5. A Programmable Keyboard

Recent Documents – Although I’ve known about the recent documents list for ten years or more, I only recently started using it. I had written a Word doc and forgot what I named it. A friend said “Just look in recent documents.” aha.. yep, that was simple.

Avery Write On Tabs - I don’t know if brand names make any difference, but I like the post-it flags. They make great bookmarks for important data I want to remember. The colors are nice, sometimes I color code sections of my journal.

There’s a great mailbox overload fighting feature in Outlook in the Rules wizard. I use it to flag my most important emails for follow-up. And emails such as newsletter subscriptions get filed automatically. Really handy for keeping a squeaky clean inbox. (P.S. If you are drowning in email, you might want to give Speedfiler a try)

You’ve seen my enthusiastic recommendation for 2 monitors. Dual mons allow you to switch between views without having to minimize windows. It’s a great way to boost your computer productivity. You have to get used to turning your head though.

A programmable keyboard is a great time saver when you’ve got a start menu (schwartz) as big as mine. Rather than search through the muddied start menu, I can click my quick button and launch Visual Studio, Mind Manager or Live Writer.

Good list Beth, here are 5 back at ya:

Five little things that make MY life easier

Dash Command

Dash Command is a light and quick launcher application that is great for quick launching every application on your computer.


But it goes beyond launching. It auto-pastes text snippets (like email signatures). And it has some perks built in such as searching the dictionary from any program and getting to the command prompt instantly.


jott Jott is one of the best productivity apps out there. Like a personal secretary, it takes notes, sets appointments and transcribes your blog posts.

I find that while driving, I get hit with many brainstorms. I think of great blog posts or Achieve-IT! software enhancements. These would often go to waste because I didn’t want to key it in while driving or I’d record them into my Pocket PC – which would sit for weeks until I transcribed the notes.

But now, I call Jott and insert reminders into my Google Calendar. My GCalendar syncs with my Outlook, so it all ends up in one place. Also, I often outline blog posts in it by calling Jott and getting it to transcribe my notes to Evernote. Check out my Lifehacker post on the subject if you haven’t already.

MobiPocket Reader

MobiPocket is a free eBook reader for the Pocket PC. Sure, there are a lot of different readers and I’ve tried most of them. I like MobiPocket because it supports both a large collection of bestsellers and you can also load in different formats such as text and html.

But most importantly, you can load it up with the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. It may not sound thrilling at first, but hear me out. When I’m reading a book and I come across a word I don’t know, I just highlight it and a menu pops up “look up in dictionary.”

This turns almost any book, article or novel into a learning experience.

As someone who resisted reading novels (as being a waste of time) I can now read a novel with the feeling that at least I’ll pick up a few new words to increase my vocabulary. That’s my story anyway… ;)

Google Desktop

Where Beth points out the obvious benefit of the recent documents feature in Windows, what if the document you need isn’t so recent? That’s where Google Desktop comes to the rescue. I use it about every day to track down emails and find code components that are scattered about my hard drive.

The indexing system of GDS is remarkably fast and can pull up my results in less than a second.

free download: http://desktop.google.com/


Yes, you read that right, I said Notepad. Notepad is the most basic word processor on your computer, yet it’s simplicity can be a great time saver.

With all the CSS, XHTML and sophisticated document formatting, you can’t just copy and paste text anymore. It picks up all that formatting and inserts it into the target document. That formatting can sometimes wreck havoc on the document you want to save.

Notepad will instantly strip out any and all of that formatting. Just paste in that text and away goes that hidden formatting.

Well, those are mine. What are 5 simple things that make your life easier?

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Beth from Avenue Z May 5, 2008 at 12:36 am

Well, I’ll be… Thanks for the friendly comments about my list. Many of your cool tools are on an article I wrote called the Best Free and Low-Cost Tools Your Organization Can’t Live Without. I wrote it for my newsletter readers, and one of these days I’ll break it apart for the blog.

Great job back at ya!

Brad Isaac May 6, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Glad you liked it. Have a great one :)

Ariel Di Stefano July 14, 2008 at 8:56 am

Hi Guys,

We just launched KiGoo, a free tool that allows Google users to fully manage (create, read, update and delete) their Calendar and Contacts from MS Outlook.

Also KiGoo manage the Free Busy information of your Gmail contacts for appointments if they shared their FB status.

Currently we support Windows XP and office 2007.

You could download it from http://www.getkigoo.com

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