I’m the type of person who makes lists… and loses them. I have at least 4 notebooks going at all times, because one is on each floor of my house, plus one in the car. Which has never really made me productive. However, the one thing I’m never without, my iPhone. And I’ve worked hard to find apps that help me to be more productive, and help me through my day. Here are my top six suggestions for apps that help me be more productive during my days as a work from home mom.
The best part: most of these apps are free. (When they’re not, I’m using an affiliate code. Thank you!)
Best Productivity Apps for iPhone & Android
As I plan my week, I’ve realized the weather plays a huge part. Whether dinner is cooked on the grill or in the kitchen depends on the weather. Whether the kids’ baseball game will be canceled or played depends on the weather. Whether or not we’ll head to the pool after school (and, therefore, need clean towels washed the night before), depends on the weather. (And, yes, I’m totally playing with whether and weather on purpose.) The iPhone comes with its own little Weather app, but The Weather Channel app takes it miles further with hourly details for nearly 48 hours ahead, and ten-day forecast. Plus, their weather radar has been right on all summer long.
Sure, the meteorologist can be wrong. We see it all the time. But I’d rather be prepared for a chance, than not at all.
For years, my husband has been saying “set a reminder in your phone” and “put it in your calendar” but I never have. I don’t put “pick up dry cleaning” into my calendar, because I like to use my calendar just for appointments and not clutter it with lists. (We all have our particular things and demands, right? This is one of mine. I like to keep appointments separate.) And the Reminders app on the iPhone is pretty, well, unproductive.
Up Next has been a game changer. It syncs with my calendar for my appointments and helps me to quickly set task reminders with due dates and times that appear on your task list. (And when you finish your list, you can check off and cross off, which is just as satisfying as crossing off on paper.) You can also set things to repeat (so, now, every Thursday morning Up Next will have “dry cleaning” as a task on my list). As long as you remember to check you Up Next app each day, you’ll have your checklist with you all the time.
I would never have found Up Next if not for my Starbucks app, which doesn’t make my best productivity list, but it’s worth noting for the free apps and music. Up Next usually carries a fee of $4.99 on iTunes, but if you have an active Starbucks account app, there’s currently a coupon code for a free download. It’s also available for Android in the Google Play store.
Yesterday when checking out at the grocery store, I flashed my Card Mobili app to provide my keytag code so that I could receive points for my purchase, receive store coupons and, let’s be honest, allow the store to track my purchases. About 3 years ago, when the keytag broke off my keychain for the umpteenth time, I called it quits for carrying the ugly, plastic tag (as well as my gym membership keytag, other grocery store tags, office supplies key tag, sporting goods store keytags …) For a while, I just provided my email address or phone number, but when I found Card Mobili, everything became faster and easier. Just scan your keytags, store them in Card Mobili and access them from your phone when it’s time to show your card. The scanners will pick them up just as easily.
Signing a contract was never more of a problem than when our scanner stopped working. And while it’s working now, I rarely have to use it. Instead, I use the Sign Easy app, which opens PDFs and allows me to input initials, memos, notes, dates and signatures. Then, I can just save it and send it to the recipient, as well as a copy to me. Additionally, all of my signed contracts are stored in a password protected database, in case I need to access them later. This app is free.
When we had to track behavior of one of our children, I looked for a journal app that would make it easy to rate the behavior and make quick notes. My W Days allows just that. Use it as a personal journal, or use it for making notes of a topic of importance. You can rate the day with a face sticker (Happy Face, Sad Face, Neutral Face, and more) and make keep your notes fresh. The journal can stay private or be shared and you can print out time periods if you need them for later. The app costs $2.99. I tried the free version for about 30 days before purchasing.
I’m still working to figure all the thousands of ways IFTTT can help me. But I can tell you that if you’re looking to be more productive and you’re active with apps and the internet, this is a must have. To use IFTTT, you create if, then recipes that allow your apps and internet programs to, basically, mesh. For example, “If I post a picture on instagram with the hashtag #FacebookPage, then post my image on my Facebook page.” Or “If I receive an email with the subject “milk”, add milk to my grocery list in Evernote.” Another example, “if the weather drops below 60, turn on the air conditioning using the Nest app.” To get an idea of the many ways to make IFTTT work for you, read the app comments and reviews. This app is free for iOS and Android.
smartphone copyright: bplanet / 123RF Stock Photo. All other images from iTunes app store.
© 2014, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.