Productivity Tools for Writers

Screen captures of GQueues (desktop and mobile), Harvest and BoomerangTechnology plays an important role in all of our lives. I’m always interested in what’s new and trying to implement the latest advancements so I can do more in less time. I’ve recently started using a few new services and I wanted to share my experiences with you.


I am always looking to improve my time management skills especially capturing new tasks and prioritizing them. I’ve tried all manor of software and even as recently as 2 months ago, I was using a hybrid online-paper solution. Then a client turned me on to GQueues. Although not a Google product, you must have a Gmail account to make use of GQueues.  It is billed as “A full-featured online task manager for your Google Account and Google Apps account”. GQueues is fine as a stand alone task manager. It’s Getting Things Done friendly and similar to other online task managers (e.g. Things, Remember The Milk or Toodeldo), but the big plus for me is the seamless integration into Gmail and Google Calendar.

As a work-at-home-mom, my days are a weird mix of work and family. My email and my calendar function as the back bone of my existence. Both my husband and I use Google Calendar and the ability to see each other’s commitments helps us keep things running smoothly.

A client added me to their GQueues team and since I’m already heavily invested into Google products, it made sense to try it.  I like that I can share my GQueue from that client and integrate those tasks into my personal GQueues account so I only have to track tasks in one place.

The free version is just the task manager. To take advantage of the Google Calendar integration and an app for mobile phones, the cost is $25 per year. A small price to pay for my sanity.
Now that I know what I have to do and when it’s due, I need to make sure I get paid for the time I spend on client work.



Harvest is a powerful time-tracking and invoicing app. I readily  admit at the moment I’m underutilizing it. Currently I’m using it as an over-priced timer, but once the kids are back to school, I have a task in GQueues to input all my client data and set up invoicing. Harvest has a clean, simple, easy to use interface. It allows you to organize your time by client and then by project and even by billable or non-billable task. One feature I love is the “Hey-Dummy-You-Forgot-to-Turn-Off-The-Timer” email. The only thing I wish it did differently was let me edit by specific time as opposed to total time spent. Harvest will tell me how long a timer has been running, but when I forget to turn it off (as I do at least once a week), I wish I could go in and add the time I stopped (typically I know this) and make Harvest do the math rather than having to figure out how much time I spent working

Harvest offers a 30 day free trial and a free version that allows you 1 User, 4 Clients and 2 Projects. The next step up is $12 a month for a max of 3 users, but unlimited clients and unlimited projects.

Boomerang is an add on for Gmail. It allows you to send emails at a specific time and have an email return (boomerang) to your inbox at a set time.

Although I am upfront with clients about my crazy schedule, but at the same time I don’t want to advertise I work crazy hours. I can write an email at 11pm and set it to send at 9am the next morning. If I email a idea to a client, I can mark it to return to my inbox 3 days later if there as been no response (or even if there was a response). This helps me keep track of outstanding issues and reminds me to follow up when necessary.

Boomerang offers a free, full featured, 30 day trial. After that, the free version allows you to modify 10 messages per month. I found I wanted to use it more so I upgraded to the personal version. The cost is $4.99 a month (although I purchased an annual subscription for $19.99 via a promotional offer, so keep your eye out).
Have you found any new apps that make your life easier?


The opinions expressed here are my own and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of other NHWN writers. I received no compensation for these reviews. I’m just a happy customer.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors. Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe.


9 thoughts on “Productivity Tools for Writers

  1. Reblogged this on Radhika Meganathan and commented:
    I cannot live without Google Calender. Or my E-Checklist on my phone. And that’s about as tech savvy as I can get, lol. I do have a scrivener sitting in my inbox, but the day after I bought the mac version , my iMac died and went to Apple Heaven, and I am currently working on a PC. Somethings are just not meant to be.

    Here are some more productivity tools for writers!

  2. Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace

  3. Reblogged this on zenitymom and commented:
    A very interesting short insight into productivity tools for writers. Although I’m for the moment only writing very lazily at my novel, I like the idea of having something at hand for the day I might need it. And especially a task manager! That’s like a huuuge block of post-its on the PC. Only they don’t vanish all of the sudden. Or get neatly rearranged by the office cleaning lady who means so well and hides them under your keyboard so your desk looks less messy. Looking forward to testing some of it!

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