Many of us are making a point to be more productive in 2015. Here are some of the best apps available for iOS and Android to help you this year insanely productive:
For years I've been a huge fan of Contactually, which lets me keep in touch with everyone, from teammates to former colleagues to prospects, with ease. Its mobile app is a cinch to use, too. You simply put your contacts into "buckets," and then decide how often you want to follow up with the people in each one. Contactually will do the rest, automatically creating follow-ups for you and letting you know the last time you spoke to the person in question. Contactually also lets you save dynamic templates to make your holiday wishes, congratulations, and follow-ups after meetings incredibly easy, while still retaining a human touch.
Given the simplicity of its interface, it's amazing how much Evernote does. Think of it as extra storage for your brain: With Evernote, there's almost no excuse for forgetting any important information ever again. When you're away from your laptop, you can use Evernote to take a note incredibly easily, and add an audio file or picture if you need. Want to set a reminder for yourself or make a to-do list? Evernote can do that. You can also send yourself articles to be used as inspiration for future blog posts and research. An easy Chrome extension let's you clip just about anything you want from a browser, too.
Simply put, Refresh is the best-kept secret of anyone who takes business meetings frequently. Refresh is a terrific relationship-builder: By syncing seamlessly with services such as Gmail, Facebook, and LinkedIn, it helps you go into your meetings prepared and informed. Refresh gives you the ability to review past interactions with the people with whom you'll be meeting or to learn new information about them. Using Refresh, you might discover that you and a contact both speak French, that you have 11 mutual friends on Facebook, or that her birthday is coming up in three days. You're also able to see who first introduced you, or whether you've taken any notes about her in Evernote.
A poor calendar app can easily make you less productive. If you find yourself in that situation, Sunrise is the solution. The app has an interface that is very easy to navigate and connects seamlessly with all major calendar services. Every event for which you have to RSVP is clearly marked at the very top of the main interface, so no meetings will ever fall through the cracks. Sunrise also lets you drill down to get more information on the contacts with whom you're having meetings. With Sunrise, there isn't much of a reason to be using the calendar app that comes with your iPhone--Sunrise is that good, and free as well.
There was a time when Basecamp reigned supreme in the project-management and getting-things-done sector, but Asana is clearly the champion these days. I've been able to cut down on internal email between me and my Firebrand Group colleagues by as much as 40 percent thanks to Asana, which lets us assign tasks to one another, organize them into projects, have discussions pertaining to each particular task, add subtasks to get more granular when necessary, and get a snapshot daily of how everybody is doing and which deadlines are in danger of not being met. Asana's the name of the game with respect to team productivity.
It's hard to think of something that you want to get done that you can't get done using IFTTT, short for If This Then That. Consider IFTTT programming--without actually doing any programming. Using IFTTT, I have created recipes that connect my services to one another in many interesting ways. For example, when I receive an email from Lead411, I have that email automatically turned into an Evernote entry. When I post a photo to Instagram, IFTTT automatically turns it into a Twitter-friendly picture and posts it on Twitter as well. If the weather conditions change to rain, I have IFTTT send me a text to warn me, so I can allow more time to get to my next meeting. Whether you're using Android, iOS, or the browser, the possibilities are endless with IFTTT.
Which apps are you determined to try this year? Would you like recommendations for any specific types of apps? Let me know in the comments and I'll cover them in a future column.