Try this: go on Google and search for “Top 5 time management apps”. Go on. Do it. I’ll wait.
Done? So what did you find?
I found two groups of apps: some I had NEVER heard of and some that I always hear about and use myself (mostly). So how to decide which ones are worth the effort and which aren’t? Like everything else in life, I believe in the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Okay, that’s not a particularly nice way of phrasing it, but it gets the point across. You CAN in fact get muddled in the processes of using apps and spend a great deal of time setting them up and fussing with them instead of getting down to the business of your business.
I won’t waste your reading time by going over the reams of apps that I didn’t recognize and instead, I’ll give you the shortlist of apps that I saw over and over again in all the various lists I looked at.
Number 1: Evernote
This app is like having digital sticky pads all over the place. Whether on your computer or on your phone, you can put in checklists, documents, images… basically anything you want and it will sync everything, keeping it at the ready for when you need it (provided you are on a WIFI network). Your grocery list? Always at the ready and never stuck to the fridge with an Elmo magnet. Your kid’s birthday wish list? In your pocket as you walk past her favourite store and the big signs that say “50% off EVERYTHING SALE.” Notes for your presentation on Google+ to a group of mom entrepreneurs? Right there on your iPad.
Number 2: DropBox
Forget emailing big files or images; just drop them into a shared folder on DropBox and you are done. It’s a cloud-based storage for EVERYTHING. Bonus? You can set up your phone’s camera images to automatically sync to DropBox so that if your phone goes bezerk or gets dropped in a toilet by SOMEONE in your household, the dozens of pictures of your wee ones taking their own selfies are indeed safe! This is a MAJOR time saver, as we all know how precious those selfies are!
Number 3: FreshBooks
It is extremely gratifying to invoice a customer while sitting on your sofa, sipping a lovely glass of Merlot. It hardly feels like work at all! With FreshBooks, invoicing and general bookkeeping are made easy, as are pulling all the necessary reports when those pesky HST and income tax returns are due.
Number 4: Around Me
This app will help you find what is around you at that moment. Need a restaurant? It will show you what’s available, starting with those closest to your current location. Need a hospital? Same thing. No more searching for the nearest ATM, gas station or supermarket on your phone. One click and you can find what you need, on the go.
Number 5: Google Calendar
In a previous blog post (link), we talked about the importance of getting your family on-board while you are growing your business, as well as the need for communication and planning. The easiest way to do this on the fly is with Google Calendar, with a different colour code for everything you need to keep straight: business, family, etc… Then, share the calendar with those who need to be in the know. Instead of your husband asking you where you are that evening, he can see that you are hosting a Tweet-Up at your local cafe (assuming he looks at the calendar, but that’s another problem altogether. I don’t think there’s an app for that. Yet).
Now here are a few suggestions from other entrepreneurial moms:
This is a work timer that allows you to set up tasks with time limits for doing them. The alarm will sound when your time is up for a specific task! It helps Jennifer Gilbert, Photographer, to keep focused and avoid going down the rabbit hole that Facebook or Twitter can be, at times!
“I enjoy using 30/30 because it helps me stay focused on the task at hand. It helps me plan my day better.”
Nothing worse than having a document you need to scan NOW and being nowhere near a scanner. Melissa Gaston recommends TurboScan. It turns your phone into a scanner. Scan and documents, receipts and other notes become store-able, shareable high-quality PDFs.
“TurboScan is the app that I didn’t really know I needed until I had it. It simplifies the process of scanning documents that need to be signed and quickly sent – you don’t need to be at your desk, just have your phone with you. I also use it to scan my kids’ artwork that they bring home from school!”
What are your favourite apps for managing your time?