January has been about getting ready for all 2021 has to offer and how to put your best foot forward. To do that, you have to be organized. I have some cool tools and apps that can help. There is a free version of almost all of these because I love free. I’ve broken them down into a few different categories. The first 3 are focused on notes, to-do lists, your team, and that kind of stuff. So let’s get started, shall we?
Evernote is an organization app that you can put on your phone and sync up on your computer. Basically, it’s a free planner. It allows you to organize, it’s a notebook, and it syncs and searches data. So what does that mean? It means that my customers who want to talk to me on Facebook Messenger, and my customers who text me, and my customers who email me can have all their data pulled together into 1 location. That’s awesome because it keeps me organized and prevents any important information from falling through the cracks.
Todoist is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a digital to-do list. It manages your day and it helps maximize productivity. You can go in and make yourself your regular to-do list. You can assign priority. You can assign dates of completion. You can put notes. If you have a team, you can share information so, if you have a virtual assistant and you need a video transcribed by a certain time, you can go in and put a deadline for them, so that they can see it and respond to it without you having to text back and forth. As soon as it’s done, they mark it off their list and you don’t have to wonder if it’s been done.
I love Trello. You also have Asana and Slack. Everybody has a different preference but I am all about Trello simply because it’s free and it’s easy to use. It is a great project management tool for teams. We use it constantly. Seriously, my team uses it daily. It allows you to create to do lists and brainstorm. I have this delightful habit of having weird ideas at weird times, and my entire team may not be up at midnight. I have to have a place to dump that information so I can get it out of my head. I can go into Trello and put it on my board and make myself a list and then later on, when I’m fleshing the idea out, I can drag and drop those tasks into someone else’s card or onto someone else’s board. It allows me to assign tasks. The person who it’s assigned to can see it and I can put a date on it. We keep a Trello board for each client so that if there’s an emergency, like someone on the team goes into labor, we access their client’s information. The information stays safe inside Trello and we can go in there and edit and grab the information that we need.
Now let’s talk about 3 different time tracking apps that each serve different purposes.
Toggl is a time tracking app that helps you keep track of how much time you’re spending on different tasks. That’s it. That’s all it does. It’s kind of like RescueTime if you’ve used that app. It runs in the background on your computer so you can see how much time you’re spending on each activity or project. For us it’s helpful because I like to know how long it takes my team to do something. That gives me the information to be able to charge my client correctly. Also, if your client wants to talk to you about how long it took you to do a certain task, you have a record. It’s easy to downplay how long it takes to do something and I’m the worst. This app will give you an accurate time so you don’t sell yourself short.
Fantastical is a voice activated Google Calendar and if you haven’t tapped into Google Calendar you need to check it out.With Fantastical you can be driving down the road and add something to your calendar. It is also great for pulling multiple calendars into one place.
Calendly is great. When you go to our website, all down the homepage are buttons that say: Schedule a Call. Those buttons will take you to our Calendly page. Calendly allows you to block out time blocks on your calendar that you’re available. If you only want to take inquiries or incoming calls on Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from one to three o’clock because that’s when you’re available, you can set those blocks of time up in Calendly. If you have something you need to do or an appointment, you can go in and block that time off for yourself. It’s never going to schedule a call on Saturday morning at 6 am unless you have that time available. I love it because it’s free and you can do it in pieces. You can do it by 15, 30, or 60 minute blocks.
The Due app serves as a reminder app just exactly like how it sounds. It allows you to set important due dates and reminders in your schedule. This one does cost $6. It’s a one-time purchase fee of $6, but it helps keep you from missing any deadlines. I use my Google Calendar and my iPhone calendar, but if you want an app that really brings your attention to specific tasks, this one is great.
Next, let’s talk about apps that get you organized through storage. Where do you store all your information?
Dropbox and Google Drive
Dropbox and Google Drive are the two main storage apps. Amazon has a drive too but I am partial to Google Drive, mostly because it’s free and it’s super easy to use. I can go in there at any time and add a doc or slides or spreadsheet. It’s much more streamlined for Mac users especially to be able to open documents and spreadsheets and keep them in a file. For us, each customer has a file. Then we have a master customer file that has information in it too. That way if I have a document that I need to refer to or I need to go look at their intake form, I can just go pull it out of Google Drive. I keep everything because I will invariably get a call, two years from now, to help someone remember their Instagram password. I can check my sheet and it’s right there. Yes, that happens. It happens more than you think.
I love this app. CamScanner is one of my favorites because it scans and stores information and it syncs up with everything else. It allows you to digitize documents and extract text from images. I can scan in a picture of a document and it translates it to text. Love that. You don’t have to go back and type everything out, which is a nightmare. It’s just a time suck. It does cost is a one time fee of $5 but it’s worth it.
Cloze is a contact management app that collects snippets from all the social networking apps and emails you’re using and it provides a view of individuals and companies. That’s a big job. What does that really mean? It is a master customer service app that pulls everything from all the social media channels into one location. So if somebody named Anita contacts me by text for example, and I’m thinking “Anita. I think I know Anita. How do I know Anita?” you can open up this app and because it’s pulling her information from our social media platforms, including pictures, it’s super helpful. You can put notes in it. I am terrible with names so it’s great for me to be able to see a face and a name at the same time. It does cost $19 and is by far the most expensive thing on our list. I haven’t really played with it yet to see how much I like it because I’m so used to some of the other Customer Service Management apps, but I will check it out and let you guys know.
Pocket captures content that you come across online so that you can keep it for later. I also use Pinterest for this, but Pocket has access everywhere so it doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter where the article is, you can throw it into Pocket and refer to it at a later time. If you are tied up and can’t read it, it will read it to you. How cool is that? If you have a bunch of articles in your industry and you’re looking for new content, you can turn on your Pocket app and it’ll read it to you while you’re driving. That is so cool. I love that stuff. Pocket is free, but there is a paid version that’s a little bit more robust for $5. Again, a one-time fee. Worth it.
Now let’s talk about apps to keep you personally on track. I really like these.
Freedom is a new one, but I think it’s very interesting. It blocks distracting and time wasting websites and apps. As a social media person, I don’t think they’re time wasting, but they sure are distracting and I am the worst. I’m Pavlov’s dog when it comes to emails. I hear the ding and I want to check it every time. I have to literally turn it off and shut it down if I’m working on something, because I will allow myself to get distracted to the point of no return. I love things that keep me focused.
Forest is amazing. I love forest. It is free. It’s a task app to keep you focused and fight phone addiction. Even though I can close the tabs on my computer, I can still see my phone lighting up. I can see it lighting up now. There’s text on there that I haven’t read and it is killing me. Forest, allows you to set specific times where it blocks phone notifications, and it makes it a fun game so that you’re more inspired to complete the task. How does it do that you ask? Well, you have a virtual tree inside a forest and if you stay true to your task and you don’t pick up your phone, your tree grows. Here’s the horrible part. If you pick up your phone your tree dies. It dies and I find that so upsetting. I know it’s a fake tree. I know it’s a virtual tree. Still, it is so upsetting to me. As a result, I don’t want to touch my phone and kill my tree, so my work gets done. It is a highly effective app. Anything that allows you to make a game of it is always going to be more effective because it makes it fun.
Be Focused is another one, but it breaks your day up into 25 minute, very focused sessions with 5 minute breaks in between. For you folks who struggle with ADHD or struggle with staying focused, it has predetermined spaces to break it up for you. You know when it’s break time and you can get up and walk around. Then you know it’s time to get focused again.
Headspace is not a required app for organization. It’s just helpful. It teaches users the art of meditation, and it helps connect you to your mind, body, and soul. You use it for about 10 minutes a day. I can tell you as someone who has recently started trying to do meditation, I have struggled with it because I can’t shut my mind down for more than 30 seconds at a time. So, learning to meditate and learning to be more focused is super helpful for me.