Today’s post is from Liz of A Fresh Space. Read more about her at the end of this post.
Was this the year of missed appointments, lost grocery lists and forgotten errands? This new year doesn’t have to be! We are all busy and have so much going on that sometimes things fall through the cracks. Ok, maybe that happens a lot. But what I’ve discovered in my transition from using paper calendars and paper lists is that it’s awfully nice to have everything in one spot in a device that, lets face it, is always with me. My phone. But sometimes I’m at my laptop, or with my iPad, and being able to stay on top of everything going on is critical to me as both a mom and a business owner. Plus I do enjoy sleeping without having that hamster wheel brain of mine wondering if I’ve written everything down or finished something or missed being somewhere I was supposed to be. Using technology can be intimidating to get started, but once you do, you will wonder how you lived without it!
And you know just about everyone in your household will always have their technology with them as well. Stop juggling it all in your head or on little scraps of paper that end up crumpled like last years resolutions in the back of a drawer. In this New Year, take a step towards simplifying your life by taking advantage of these (mostly) free apps.
When I recommend an app, I look for several things:
- Is free or low cost (many have modestly priced ‘upgraded’ versions)
- Can be used on Android or iPhone platforms
- Can be used on any device
- Plays well with others
- Easy to use with a minimal learning curve
- Has nice visuals and doesn’t stress me out
Ready to get started? You may have some of these already in play but think of it as an overall strategy to get the information you need where you need it and when you need it.
Start with Google Calendar. All you need is a gmail account. It meets all of my criteria but the best part about it is that you can do a lot more than just enter your next dentist appointment. You can have several different calendars that you share with others. For example, I’ve got a calendar (it’s light blue) that I share with my employees for all client jobs and meetings. I have another calendar (orange) that I share with the members of my family. I also have my own personal calendar (lavender). So when I enter something on my MacBook, it automatically syncs with my phone and my iPad. And the reverse. If it’s on the calendar I share with my husband and daughter, it’ll show up on their devices as well. Plus whatever they add, shows up on mine so we aren’t playing text tag about what is going on. I love having my calendar always up to date and with me. No having to get back with people (and then forgetting) or getting one of those little reminder cards and then forgetting to enter it. Just do everything right on site and you are good to go. Plus you can set up reminders, which is quite handy if you are going a mile a minute.
Wondering how to manage tasks & lists? Once you have your calendar under control, check out these options for tracking all of your to-do’s:
- Cozi is one of those multi-functional apps that also has a calendar embedded within, which syncs with Google Calendar (or other calendars you may already be using). It’s a full featured family management program that really can make life simpler. You can keep it up and running on your desktop for everyone to view, but manage it from anywhere. Some of the best features, besides the calendar, are the to-do lists that you can share or assign, the reminder messages (so you don’t remember about your appointments after they happen – been there, done that), shopping lists & meal planning. One of my favorite parts of Cozi is their Family Journal feature which acts like a family blog that you can share or keep private. You can add to your Facebook feed if you like, or just track milestones and upload photos. Using Cozi is probably one of the best ways to really bring everything together in one place for family management.
However, if you really just need a place to stash lists and reminders….
- Wunderlist is a great option. It’s a terrific collaborative tool for lists and projects with a nice, easy interface and ways to connect with others in your life. It offers real time syncing which can be nice if you are grocery shopping or trying to get something done with someone who is elsewhere! You can add notes, reminders, forward emails that you can turn into tasks, have due dates and hashtags for easier management.
- Remember The Milk is another one of my favorites. Besides the cute cow logo, it syncs with Google Calendar, allows you to manage tasks offline, share your tasks, get reminders and more. One cool feature is that you can add tasks using Siri, though my Siri dislikes me and never does anything I ask correctly except make phone calls, sometimes. Maybe someone else’s Siri works better than mine. One of the best things about it is that the developers have worked on creating ways to help you corral your tasks from just about anywhere: Twitter, Google Calendar, gmail, Outlook, Evernote, and more.
- Any.do has a lovely interface, and I particularly like the way it breaks down the different areas of your life, including projects. This is an app that can be used for both work life and home life, and includes all of the features you need to manage your tasks and to-do’s.
I remember when many of these apps first came out and the functionality and ease of use has only gotten better over time. Many other apps have fallen by the wayside but all of these have been around a while, with added features and expanded uses.
What I like about these apps is that all of them are easy to set up and easy to use. None of them are super ‘business’ like in their appearance, and they make it actually kind of fun to enter in your info and check off your lists. As a busy mom myself, knowing that everything I have to do is out of my head and in a place I can access from wherever I am, and can share with those who need to know, is priceless.
Liz Jenkins is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of A Fresh Space based in Franklin, TN. Helping families and small businesses get organized since 2006, Liz is constantly striving to improve her skills and knowledge to help her clients simplify their lives and achieve their goals. If she’s not organizing, she’s generally reading, having a glass of wine, cooking or canning, cleaning up after all of her rescue animals, shuttling her 12 year old around town, working on her TED Talk, or dreaming up new projects for her husband to build.