Evernote. Your New Favorite App.

When was the last time you fell in love with an application? Yes, you read that right. Think of all the apps you have on your smartphone. Which app do you use on a consistent basis? I touch Evernote daily to keep track of all things business and personal in one place.

EvernoteWhat makes Evernote so special?

The application is free to download for the desktop, tablets, and smartphones. There is a paid version that is $4.99 a month for $45 a year. I have been on the free version for over a year. The application runs off its own server so there is not a biased toward Android or Apple. It syncs to all your devices that have the app, which keeps everyone updated at once.

Think of all the mental and actual notes you take throughout your day. Where do they go? Do you keep track of them? Set reminders to tackle assignments or followups?

The features of Evernote make life simple.

Evernote has “Notebooks” to take notes in. You can make a notebook for pretty much e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I have a notebook for each of my clients, personal business notes, blog ideas, fitness ideas, food prep meals and recipes, and so much more! Each note can include text, images, documents in PDF or word .doc formats to keep it all organized. The beautiful thing each note can be e-mailed within seconds.

How does this help people besides me?

Evernote has a Evernote Business version for in-depth collaboration for a paid account. One of my clients requests a mileage report from me every month. I create a note that includes a spreadsheet in my clients “notebook”. I update it and can e-mail it to my client to view the document, which is good. Or I can “share” or “publish” the same note with my client and we can work on it together, which is great. Working on the same note allows us to provide instant feedback to one another in one spot instead of filtering through e-mail. Brilliant.

Evernote Collaboration

Evernote Collaboration

Anything else?

There is a ton more paid features Evernote offers in the Evernote Market. The other free apps Everynote has syncs with the main Evernote app keeping all your extensions together in one place. What other free apps? Evernote Hello helps you organize who you meet and their business card. Evernote Skitch helps you sketch on documents and send them to whomever needs it. Evernote Food is a collection of foodie pictures we all know we take and want to remember later. And I recently downloaded Evernote Web Clipper and Evernote Clearly for the desktop. I am excited to start using these tools.

Download the green app that looks like an elephant and tell me what you think. Honestly! Tell me if you hate it or love it.

What is an app you love and why? 

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before. If you want to contribute to an upcoming Friday Focus, please leave me a comment and we can make it happen.

Need a Personal Assistant? Download Donna.

We all have days where our meetings run back to back. Sometimes we get a break when they are in the same office or general area, but sometimes we are jumping across town to fight traffic. How can we predict that? We can’t. Maybe a Personal Assistant can help. Download the Donna app.

We know the phrase, “If you’re on time, you’re late” and before I started using Donna, I was always running late. I used to blame it on traffic because it was true, but after I used the excuse I realized it wasn’t a valid, professional excuse. I researched and found the rating to be favorable to try asking Donna for help.

If you are comfortable sharing Donna your GPS location, then you are going to appreciate its features! The account preferences include setting favorite locations such as home, work, or regular meeting spots. The notifications will allow Donna to alert you of an upcoming meeting in your calendar up to 30 minutes before the meeting.

 

How my looks like...

My iCal and Google Cal has been shared with Donna, so the app knows when my meetings take place on any given day. Under each appointment, Donna will ask where am I coming from and where is the location of the meeting. Set the two locations and choice of preferred method of transportation (walk, bike, public transportation, or car) and it will estimate your departure time. Note, this does change throughout the day because it calculates with traffic and weather updates.

My rule of thumb is to check this the night before and set my locations accordingly. My notifications are set to 30 minutes before my meeting so I can glance at when I should be ready to leave. If the locations worry you because you don’t know the physical address, you are in luck. The GPS feature can help you search for the meeting place and pinpoint it.

Now, I’ll never be late for a meeting again…unless I get stuck in traffic.

Donna was featured in the L.A. Times.

5 Business Apps You Will Use

One of the things I love about working as a consultant is I can do business from anywhere. My office can in be a Panera or a Starbucks for long hours or a break from my home office. When I leave my office to meet with a client, I have to trust technology, apps and the cloud to sync all my business files.

5 Apps Blog

Evernote

Use Evernote to type notes, documents, and add photos to create a note with ease. Every note can have a title and category tags to find later. New notes automatically sync all your Evernote apps that are on your desktop, smart phone, and tablet! Need to share a note? Email it to multiple people, save it once to sync all your devices, or send it to a social media page. If I get an email with an attachment, I can open it in Evernote. Evernote Basic has an upload limit of 60MB per month. Need more storage? Evernote Premium allows you to upload 1GB each month for $45 a year.

Harvest

Time is money. Keeping good records of time and invoices is essential to any business. Harvest makes it easy to log hours and send invoices. There is an online version and a smart phone app version with easier navigation for the features you use the most. There is a section to add expenses accumulated by project and separated by time period. (For basic accounting this can suffice, but I use Quikbooks for more detailed records). It uses the cloud to sync the time from the app to your online account. Each client can have projects with allotted hours. A project budget can be assigned to help you stay within the hours you assign to each project. A detailed report is easy to generat for project hours used or remaining by specific task or by client. The Harvest app is free, but an account is $12 a month.

Reminders

If you’re an Mac user, you are probably already familiar with Reminders. On my iMac I set reminders over the cloud and when I turn on my iPad mini somewhere else, I can see them there. My iPhone has a Rreminder app, but I haven’t figured out how to get this on the cloud. (I have a 4, so maybe the updated iPhones have this feature.) Like the name implies, it “reminds” you of tasks. I categorize e-v-e-r-ything in my life from grocery items, RTC projects, connections, relax, crafty, and so on. You can remind yourself with a reminder on a set time and date. The features are similar to Wunderlist, but I found it hard to sync on all my devices consistently.

Prezi

When I speak at an event, I use Prezi. What’s that? Think of a powerpoint with more functionality than showing the audience slide after slide. You can create a presentation online and then save it. Download the Prezi app (for smart phone and tablet) and download your presentation on your device. You can create, edit, and download each presentation to your device as long as you have an internet connection. After you download the presentation, you can view it with or without an internet connection. This app has been a life saver! At my last speaking event, the projector wasn’t working right. I pulled out my iPad mini and had something to show the audience as I spoke. It is free to join prezi and to download the smart phone app!

Teambox

When I start working with a client, we often create a marketing strategy. Instead of sending a string of e-mails to update the strategy, I use Teambox. There is a smart phone app and a desktop version to create a “team” to collaborate. Invitations are sent out to members of the “team” with assigned features and roles. In the “box”, files are uploaded, comments are easy to make, and you can leave messages for other team members. The “to-do” list feature allows you to assign team members to do what. Communication is easy and keeps your e-mail filled with other things. There is a filter to send you e-mail notices of updates on Teambox if you want updates. Teambox is free up to 5 “team members” and “projects” up to 5GB of uploads. Teambox Pro offers unlimited “team members” and “projects” with a fair use upload starting at $5 a month.

What business apps would you recommend for me to use? Why?

If we do not become a master of our time, our time will master us.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same several hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

We are given the same 24 hours in a day, but it is up to you how you tackle it. We have all heard this before, but it is a critical lesson to revisit again to develop a mastery attitude. If we do not become a master of our time, our time will master us. What does your schedule look like today? Tomorrow? Is it too overwhelming to even think about? You are not alone.

Here are some tips to help you manage your time:

  • Pick one day out of the week to forecast how the rest of your week will play out. Use your smartphone, desk/wall calendar, sticky notes–whatever it takes to plan out how each day should start and finish. Allow yourself some leeway in between your responsibilities to live life! Schedule yourself what needs to get done and allow the gaps of “nothingness” to stay open for when appointments gets shifted around.
  • For every project I start, I turn on my apps Stone Hill Time Card and Focus Bar. If you have not tried using these free apps, I highly recommend you try them! When I do similar projects for different clients on the same platforms, I notice my brain stays focused for the first hour and then starts to wonder. As soon as my mind starts to wonder off task, it is hard to get it back on track. Do you know what I mean? These apps gently remind you, what task you should be focusing on and shows you how long you have worked on it. Clocking my project time used to intimidate me, but overtime I have used the graphs SHTC generates as a guide on where I need to improve.
  • Set a bedtime for yourself. (I’m serious about this one.) How many of us count the number of hours of sleep we will get if we go to bed at this hour? I have a friend who turns off all her electronic devices about an hour before her bedtime, dims the lights about 30 minutes before, and falls into bed right when she is suppose to. I admire her discipline, but it does not always work out that way for me. It is enough to say, by 9pm slow down. Ween yourself off the computer and put your cell on airplane mode for the night to start focusing on rest for the night.
  • Mornings come early enough as it is without a good night’s sleep, but to get up the same time every day trains your body to listen. Start listening to your body from the night before. Did you stay up too late working on a project? Do you need more coffee to stay awake? Sleep tracking apps like Sleep On It and others can be quite helpful by taking the guess-work out of knowing how much sleep your body actually needs. By going to bed early enough to get up and start the day, I have had some of the most productive days imaginable!
  • Exercise. Schedule yourself some time to burn off the day by scorching calories. I’m not asking you to train for a marathon every time you work out, but an activity that gets your heart rate up for 15 minutes or more. Do it at least three times a week. I remember telling myself I was too tired and far too busy to work out, but squeezed in time anyway. I have been known to put dinner in the oven for 45 minutes, lace up my shoes, and head out to power walk around my neighborhood. After my workout, I would come back in time for dinner. Find time for exercise–there’s no good reason not to.
  • Meditate. Pray. Relax. Repeat. When we can find our center in the midst of a chaotic week, we have balance in knowing what we can and cannot do. By keeping your mind, body, spirit, and soul balanced overlays into your professional life in a subtle way to give you a competitive edge. The next time you feel overworked and exhausted, take a few deep breaths to regain your center. Keeping yourself in control of what you can and allow the rest to work itself out when you are back to 100%.
  • Did you finish your project earlier than expected? Did you make the deadline? Reward yourself! Small victories lead to bigger accomplishments. To be your own motivator is not always easy, but sometimes you are the only one who can motivate you exactly the way you need to be motivated.
  • Have a “me” day. On this day, I avoid looking at any electronic devices and enjoy the day for what it is–a “me” day. This is your chance to do the things you could not get to during the week that required your undivided attention. Is it cooking a home cooked meal? Is it exercising or spending time with a loved one? Whatever it may be, go out and do it without a second thought and allow yourself to recharge.

How are you managing your time?

The Rule of 5

Are you trying to stay productive by keeping a to-do list? (Join the club.)

Do you have an app that helps you keep track of it? (We meet every week.)

How successful are you in checking off each task on your to-do list? Be honest. (No, unfortunately there is no club but we could start one.)

If you are like me, smart phone apps like Wunderlist that help organize your to-do lists are amazing! I like how it can by synced through the cloud of technology from my smart phone to my computer with ease. The relationship we share is quite simple. I finish a variety of tasks; I add more things I need to get done; I repeat as necessary. Unfortunately, the cycle never ends which leaves me feeling unaccomplished. On a good day–I’ll check off about seven to nine tasks off my to-do list. By night fall, I add more tasks to it to remind myself of what I need to do tomorrow. This tedious and unrewarding system made me seek an alternative way that is more satisfying. Please do not get me wrong, I am happy with apps like Wunderlist and hard copy to-do lists, but I need fulfillment in my life knowing I made a dent in my world of endless tasks.

Currently, this is what my Wunderlist looks like:

This may not seem over whelming to some, but for me it is more than I can handle from one day after another! When I started searching for an easier method, I sat at my desk tapping on a stack of yellow sticky notes. You have seen them and have probably wrote down some quick notes on them. I use them daily to write notes and transfer them to the always-faithful Wunderlist.

Instead of transferring all my tasks and agendas to Wunderlist and leaving them there, why not rank them on a day-to-day basis? If I take the top five things that are a priority for a given day, I am sure to finish them and the rest can wait. You might be asking yourself, how this is different from the tedious cycle as before? Well, according to “The Rule of 5” it is setting yourself up for an achievable goal that is within your reach. When you have this mindset, you can finish your list of five tasks for the day. And you are more likely to get them done than a longer list.

Still don’t believe me? Try it or read some other examples of “The Rule of 5”.

If you want to start using this method today, here are some helpful tips:

  • Use a solid color sticky note such as yellow. The color yellow helps you remember what you wrote down.
  • When you get used to a solid color, reward yourself with a different color, style, design.
  • Keep your list to five to follow “The Rule of 5” and to reap the full benefits.
  • If you do not finish everything on your list, it is ok! Add them to the top of tomorrow’s list.
  • If you finish everything on your list, prepare tomorrow’s list before tomorrow gets here by being one step ahead.

What are you some helpful tools you use to stay productive?