We all have things to do, and most of the time, our computers and smartphones help us fulfill our duties faster and with fewer errors. Sometimes, however, technology gets in our way. What seems like a simple task at the start can turn into a major headache once you get into the nitty gritty, and these frustrations can easily build and begin to affect our work. Below are some of the best browser extensions for tackling most of the issues you’re likely to face throughout the work day while maintaining your sanity and zen-like focus, just in time for the new year.
Email and Calendar
Whether they are 10 feet or 10 miles away, email is a trusted way to keep coworkers and clients in the loop of any changes that might be happening with a project. While this form of communication helps us relay information to others quickly and efficiently, it can also turn into a major time suck, especially if you’re receiving a high volume of messages daily. Below are some of the best ways to streamline your email experience.
Boomerang is an extension for Gmail that adds a whole host of awesome features, the two biggest being sending or retrieving emails at relevant times. For example, say you sent an email requesting materials from a coworker. These materials are time sensitive, and your coworker has a tendency to take a while to respond. With Boomerang, you can compose a follow-up email at the same time you write your initial message, and schedule it to only be sent if your well-intentioned-but-slow-to-respond colleague still hasn’t replied by the next day.
On the flipside, say you get an important email about a project, but you know you won’t be able to work on it for a couple more days. You can schedule that message to fly back to the top of your inbox again in 48 hours when you’re able to start working on this task.
Event Merge for Google Calendar
Available for: Chrome
One of the features I use the most in Google Calendar is the ability to easily view a co-workers’ calendar and determine the time everyone is available for a meeting. However, this can sometimes get messy if you’re viewing multiple calendars, as overlapping events get “smooshed” down into tiny, illegible columns. The Event Merge extension helps to solve this problem by marking events which exist on more than one calendar with colored stripes. This saves you time and frustration by keeping your calendar clean, uncluttered, and easy to read at a glance. Consider your calendar officially wrangled.
I’ve named this section as such because these next few extensions are there to save you from yourself. Let’s be honest—we’ve all had those moments: Hitting the “clear” button instead of “submit” after filling out an important form. Sending off an email to a client and realizing a second too late there was a petty spelling mistake.
That sinking feeling in your gut after such an event is enough to make you crawl into bed with a box of chocolates and resolve never to show your face in public again. Next time, skip the meltdown with these helpful plugins.
Grammarly is like spellcheck on crack. Not only will it find misspellings, but it’ll also pick up on improper or poor phrasing, misuse of a word, or incorrect grammar. You can use this for your emails, before sending off an important document, or even before adding a post to the company blog. Once you’re in the clear, a check mark of approval will appear and you’ll never regret another work correspondence again.
Pro-tip: If you use Gmail, they’ve now added the “Undo Send” lab as an official setting. Go to Settings > General > Undo Send to specify the amount of time you want Gmail to wait before the point of no return, and voila!
Ever hit “backspace” at the wrong time, misclicked, or had your browser crash while you were filling out a form? (Especially one of those 3-page, seemingly never-ending job applications?) Did you write full paragraphs and meticulously craft a comment, only to lose it to unforeseeable events? Cleverly named Lazarus, this extension helps bring all those lost characters back from the dead. After it’s installed, you’ll see an ankh icon whenever you start typing. If something ends up happening, try refreshing the page and then click that icon. You’ll then be able to grab the last thing typed into each box.
This has become one of my most trusted browser extensions and is always one of the first things I install when I’m using a new computer.
The Other Stuff
The extensions listed above are the ones that help me get through my workday, but there’s a world of hacks out there waiting to be explored. I don’t personally use the ones listed below, but these might come in handy for some other officer dwellers out there.
Are you a tab hoarder? Try Tab Tree. Actually, if you’re really a tab hoarder, you probably already know about this. But essentially, this puts your tabs into a tree-view which allows you to more easily see what each tab is.
There’s typically an extension for every type of worker. Most people fall into the same couple of categories, and chances are someone has found something that helps, and put it on the internet. So, go forth and find what works for you! And then maybe share it in the comments, so we can all reap the same benefits and have a more productive 2016.