"The man who grasps principles can successfully handle his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble." - Harrington Emerson
I'm strongly of the opinion that technology should simplify your life, not complicate it. So, before I offer a list of apps and extensions that have been incredibly helpful to me, take the above quote to mind first. Adding more apps and extensions won't automatically make you more productive. Like any tool, apps and extensions are only helpful if they solve a problem that you're facing. Otherwise, they're just another thing to look at, learn, deal with, and keep up with. Just like how reading a self-help book won't automatically make changes in your life, adding a bunch of bloat to your browser and mindlessly checking apps won't supercharge your productivity.
That's a longer way of saying -- if you just throw more apps and extensions into your daily work mix without first having a solid working foundation, they will make your life worse.
That being said, I don't install apps and extensions willy nilly. In fact, perhaps a more useful list might be the apps that I don't have installed or the ones that I've uninstalled in anger. At any rate, the apps and extensions that I've listed here have been on my browser or phone for at least 6 months (some 6 years!) and have brought me much value.
Lastpass is a godsend. It's a password manager that I use as both a Chrome extension and an app on my iPhone. What's my bank account password? I don't know. Lastpass does, though, and it's 64 characters long, full of all sorts of different types of characters, and is completely encrypted, hashed out, and stored in the cloud. Lastpass generates and stores all of my passwords for me, except for one -- my master password. This one password (or my thumb on my phone) unlocks my Lastpass Vault, which grants me access to my accounts. Lastpass is exceptional for sharing passwords between me and my husband, too. He also uses Lastpass, and all of our joint accounts are Shared Passwords via lastpass. If I need to get into, say, our health insurance, which is in his name, he just hops into Lastpass and gives me permission to login with him. Same goes for business sharing with team members. There is a learning curve to Lastpass. I suggest taking it slowly and manually updating your existing passwords with it and including any new accounts you might form during the process. The free version is decent, but I've found it to be well worth the $13 a year.
StayFocused has been a mainstay on my browser since about 2012. Here's the deal, you load this baby up on your browser, input a list of websites that you don't want to waste time on (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, News...), and set an amount of time you're allowed to spend on them per day. Mine is 10 min. Once you hit your allotted amount of time, StayFocused blocks all of your listed sites from opening on your browser until the next day at midnight (or whatever yours is set to)...and there's no way to undo it. When I'm in ultra focus mode, I use The Nuclear Option that they offer. You set a few criteria depending on what you need to do, and it blocks EVERYTHING or even certain types of content for a specific period of time. This baby is free, but they do take donations.
How many hours have you spent mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, only to learn that the girl who sat next to you in sixth grade social studies recently went on a trip to Ireland? Like it or not, you've likely spent an embarrassing amount of time learning such stupid and pointless things about people who don't really matter to you. First of all, I always suggest a Facebook friend purge, but Newsfeed Eradicator helps keep the mindless scrolling in check. It literally just blocks the Facebook Newsfeed from your browser view. You still get messages and notifications, but you won't start going down a click hole to see what your freshman year homecoming date's wife wore to their oldest kid's birthday party. Instead, Newsfeed Eradicator will feed you a quote about the fleetingness of precious time and remind you to get back to working on something important to you. This is free.
It's an ad blocker for your browser, plain and simple. It's great. It lets you pause it when a site won't let you do something with an ad blocker installed. You can customize what types of content come through or don't. You can get really technical with it and dig into some code and specific elements of sites, but at the end of the day, it blocks ads and does a damn good job of it. This is free.
This is the most expensive recommendation on the list. It's a Chrome extension for Gmail, and the version that I use is $24 / month and worth every penny. MixMax is what you wish regular email was. You can see when people open your messages, from what device, and where. You can schedule emails to go out at specific times. Share your availability for a meeting. Invite people to meetings. Make templated emails. Share a poll to get answers from people. Send self-destructing messages. You can schedule follow ups and clear an email from your inbox until a specified date. You can UNDO A SEND! I'm excited to get to the point where I want or need the Enterprise package because you can do all sorts of neat things with rules that dictate what to do with some emails automatically.
Clue is an iPhone app (maybe Android, too?) where you track your cycle, symptoms related to your cycle, and your sexual activity. Well designed and intuitive to use, you won't be left wondering when your last cycle began or if you are experiencing something atypical for your body. Clue can send you reminders and let you know when you're (likely) ovulating or about to start your period. Clue learns as you use it more, so the more you log and keep track of the more correct it gets in its predictions. I've been using Clue since 205 so I have 3 years worth of health data on myself. If you're cool like me, you can also run a bunch of reports based on your selected criteria to get big picture looks at what's going on with your body. You can also grant your partner access to your data should they need to plan something around your cycle. There's a paid version, but I use the free. I also opted into anonymously sharing my data with the Clue team to help them better understand women's health --- because someone should be doing that.
How much time per day do you think that you spend on your phone? I can 100% guarantee you that it's more than you think. I estimated my daily phone usages at about 90 minutes...BOY was I wrong. Try an average of 4 hours and 20 mins...per day of my life staring at a rectangle in my hand. That's 30 hours a week, BTW. Your number is likely similar. Moment runs in the background of your phone, doesn't hog battery, and just tracks how often you're on your device. Moment let's you set thresholds for notification so that you...I dunno...look up from your phone and enjoy the world around you. The free version is good and sends you a daily report notification of your phone usage. The $3.99 app, which I purchased, will ping you with reminders and gentle nudges. You can also get hardcore with the premium version and have your phone lock when you hit certain time limits.
What about you? What apps and extensions do you love? Tell me in the comments