Five Free Tools to Help Keep You Organized

Patient Expert

We ADHD-ers are often brilliant, fascinating and inspired. One thing that we're generally are not is organized. Our minds just don't work that way. We really would like to avoid losing things, forgetting appointments and leaving things we need at home, but our minds just don't run along that organized track.

In the past we managed to control our lives using Day Planners, where we kept our appointments, phone numbers and receipts. That method lacked two things - the ability to search our information easily and access it from anywhere. Now, in the digital age, we have a cornucopia of tools to keep us on track. Here are five free ones that I love.

Save everything with Evernote

Call Evernote your digital memory. Evernote is basically a big ole filing cabinet. You can stash everything there. What makes this so powerful is the ability to search your personal filing cabinet quickly and easily. You can also categorize your "stuff" and add tags. So when I clip a knitting pattern on the internet, I tag it with "knitting" and "pattern," which enables me to search for it easily. Same thing with recipes. I'll tag a recipe with "recipes" and if it's a dessert, which is likely, I'll also tag it with "dessert" and if applicable "chocolate."

Then I can access that recipe from my computer hard drive at home, my browser at work or my mobile phone if I'm on the go (in the grocery store, for instance.) Install the software on your desktop, in your browser and on your mobile phone, and anything you put in is synched across all platforms. You can put in web pages and bookmarks from your browser, photos and audio from your mobile phone, and with a scanner, business cards and receipts.

By the way, Evernote can be a bit overwhelming due to its almost infinite number of uses. Make sure you peruse both What is Evernote? and Videos and Tutorials to get the most out of it. Expand Your Brain with Evernote is also a very helpful article.

Organize and Back Up Your Digital Photos

Are your digital photos here, there and everywhere on your computer's hard drive? A few years ago, I thought that I was super-organized because mine were in the My Pictures folder in My Documents. That's not bad if you only have a couple of hundred of photos, but once you go beyond that and start getting into the hundreds and thousands of photos, you need a better way.

This is one of those things that you always mean to get to, but it's just too much of a pain, so you put it off. You just need the right tool. Picasa is my favorite way to keep my digital photos organized. It resides on your computer's hard drive, but also allows you to upload your photos to your Picasa account online. Fire, flood or earthquake trash your computer? At least your irreplacable photos are safe. Plus, you can show off pictures of your kids, grandkids or pets to co-workers simply by going to your albums online.

Each time you open the program, it will scan your hard drive in search of new photos. Uploading is easy, and the program will mark uploaded photos with a green arrow to show which you've already uploaded.Piece o' cake.

Google Calendar

I no longer fool myself that I can remember appointments. I've given up that dream. Yes, you may have Outlook or some other calendar software. But this is free, and it's really helped me to keep me from forgetting appointments. I enter every appointment into Google Calendar and have it send me either a text message or email to remind me of them, usually an hour or so beforehand. You can also share your calendar with other people.

Keep Your Family On Track

Okay, maybe it's more that you want to keep yourself on track, but you know all those times that you forget to tell your spouse or the babysitter what time the soccer game is? Or your spouse gave you a shopping list and you left it at home? Cozi, whose tagline is "Family life. Simplified" is an indispensable tool. The free account includes a calendar, customizable To Do and shopping lists, reminders and messages and, perhaps most essential, the ability to easily access Cozi from a mobile phone.

Access Your Home Computer from Anywhere

Log Me In is a lifesaver. You know when you leave something on your computer's hard drive that you really need to look at from work? Or you turned off your antivirus software because it interfered with something, forgot to turn it back on and you're in a cold sweat now because you're at work and you know your kids are visiting sites that are going to totally infect your computer? No problem. Install Log Me In on your home computer and you can access it from any browser. Naturally, it runs a little slowly, but you can start up programs and access files easily.