Do More Faster: 10 Best Apps & Tools
1. Organize your email: Sanebox
Sanebox uses algorithms to organize your email into what's important and what's not. I was skeptical and had trouble giving up control of my inbox, but now I'm hooked.
Tips: Trust it. Check @SaneLater twice a day, @SaneBulk whenever you feel like reading newsletters or promotions, and @SaneBlackHole for all the junk you never want to see again.
2. Keep track of all your notes: Evernote
Evernote stores your notes in the cloud, so you can access them from any computer or mobile device.
Tips: Use Evernote for both business and personal reasons. I take all of my business meeting notes directly in Evernote and scan or fax documents to Evernote that I want to keep. On the personal side, I take photos of wine that I like and store them in a notebook called Favorite Wines and keep copies of all critical identification (like my driver's license, passport, and insurance papers) in a notebook called Wallet.
3. Store your documents in the cloud: Dropbox
Securely file away your digital documents in the cloud, so you can find and work on them from any computer or mobile device later.
Tips: I created two Dropbox folders--~Working Drafts and ~To File--and put them on my Mac in my Finder Favorites and on my Dock. I set the default sort order to be by Date Modified. This way, my most recent documents show up at the top of the list, and I can quickly drag or find documents there. I use ~Working Drafts as if it's my desktop and never actually store anything on my computer desktop. When I'm finished with a document, I drag it to ~To File, and every once in a while, I go into the folder to organize folders that make more sense long term. Note: I include the tilde (~) in the filenames so that, when sorted alphabetically, these folders always show up at the top.
4. Prioritize your to-do list: Action Method
It's an online app that helps you organize to-do lists and track and delegate tasks.
Tips: Use Action Method's three color codes to set your priorities. Use orange for tasks that must be done on the scheduled day, blue for tasks that should be done that day but can push a day if necessary, and grey for tasks that you'd like to get done that day but will push if there are other deadlines. I follow the same color code in my calendar. The website is great, but definitely download--and set to open at login--the desktop, iPad, and mobile apps. Start every "to-do" item with an "action" word. The only negative about the Web application is that it can't be used offline. I use either the iPad or iPhone app while on a plane and sometimes will print a PDF of my to-dos before I take off and leave it on my desktop.
5. Assemble your travel plans: TripIt
TripIt files all your itineraries in one place. You can even have it automatically send your itineraries to your significant other, kids, or always-worried mom. The Pro version alerts you of flight delays and gate changes.
Tips: Download the mobile app and put it on your home screen. Create a contact for firstname.lastname@example.org and forward all itineraries to that contact.
6. Automatically transcribe your voice-mail messages: YouMail
This voice-mail service transcribes your voice-mail messages and sends them to you by email or text (or both). The mobile app makes it easy to view, listen, read, and forward your voice mails.
7. Consolidate your social network accounts: HootSuite
This website allows you to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, and others all from one place.
Tips: I tend to have pockets of time when I can read and post on social media. Try HootSuite's new "auto schedule" feature, so you can spread out your posts and don't flood your networks with many in a row.
8. Communicate in real time with your whole team: Yammer
Yammer is like a private Twitter stream just for your company.
Tips: Get everyone in your company to sign up, and then use it as your main means of communicating information. This way, everyone will adapt to Yammer, because no one wants to miss out. Allow employees to post things that are "business" material and "fun" material. The fun material makes it more entertaining, and, in turn, the business material is more likely to be read.
9. Stay fit: miCoach
Exercise keeps your mind sharp. The miCoach iPhone app acts like your personal trainer. I lost 20 pounds using it at home and while on the road.
Tips: Set up your workouts in advance. I selected Get Lean for running and Get Fit for gym workouts. Buy the heart-rate monitor and stride sensor; it's worth it. What gets measured gets done.
10. Sleep better: iSleep
It's important to get a good night's rest. If you're like me, your mind is constantly racing, and the day's work never ends. The iSleep meditation app helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. It's particularly helpful when you have jet lag or can't fall asleep. I use the Deep Sleep playlist at the end of a long, stressful day.