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Going back to basics usually involves fewer distractions, allowing you to get more done. The following apps and add-ons appeal for just this reason.

Simpler web viewing: The Readability add-on takes you back to a time when the web was ad- and clutter-free, stripping everything but the main article from a web page. It has few navigation menus and is great for creating printer-friendly pages.

Mind mapper: Few methods are as effective as a mind-map for visualising the related parts of a complex project. Xmind is a simple, powerful mind-mapping tool.

List manager: To-do lists don’t have to be complicated. For simple, effective lists that you can share with friends and access from any mobile browser, try 37Signals’ Ta-da List.

Easy presentations: If you need to whip up a snazzy presentation fast, log into Sliderocket via your Google account and use its slick templates to embed images, Flash objects, videos and audio. Export your presentation as a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow or PDF.

Fast flowcharts: Dia lets you generate quick flowcharts. This open source Visio clone gives you ample tools for creating a host of visual diagrams.

File converter: If you want to convert a MOV video file to WMV format, or a Word document into ePub for your e-book reader, try Online-Convert.com. It transforms a wide selection of formats, and it doesn’t require you to download or install any software.

Streamlined PDF viewer: Adobe’s Acrobat Reader has evolved dramatically over the years, and it’s grown a little bloated along the way. For quicker PDF viewing that won’t hog system resources, try Sumatra PDF.

All-in-one uncompressor: The free 7-Zip utility supports all the essential file-compression formats – and more than a few obscure ones – so it can unpack anything you download. 7-Zip also adds file-management tools to Windows’ context menus, enabling you to zip, unzip and convert files on the fly.

FTP essential: People who transfer lots of files still rely on the old FTP to move their data around. FileZilla is one of the best FTP clients on the market, and it’s still free. Get it here.

Hiding distractions: For distraction-free writing in Windows, WriteMonkey is top banana. While you write, it hides all the formatting menus and just about everything else by expanding to full-screen mode and filling your screen with the soothing background colour of your choice.

Evernote is another useful tool that lets you capture web clippings and later access them from your PC, tablet or smartphone.

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