I’ve often joked that my brain is stored on my phone. Compared to the amazing virtual assistants I work with everyday, I’m a veritable mess. Fortunately for me, my gadgets (and the apps I install on them) help me stay productive, and in a way, serve as my own virtual assistants. They keep track of my deadlines, remind me of tasks and appointments, and do a ton of other things that help me stay on top of things. How? Read on to find out.
Before you continue, you should probably know that I’m an Android user. Some of the apps I’ve listed here work on both Android and iOS, and I’ll include links to the Apple App Store when applicable. If you know an equivalent app on iOS, or if you have suggestions for other apps (on any platform) to try, please share them in the comments below.
Getting things done
I have a pair apps on my phone to keep track of all my tasks (and unfortunately for iPhone and iPad users, I can’t find the same apps on the App Store). The first, Taskos (Android), is a simple to-do list that syncs with my Google account. There are other similar apps out there, and most people will have their own favorites, but I’ve been using Taskos for quite a while now, and it works for me.
Taskos, however, doesn’t work too well for my recurring tasks – and this is where Regularly (Android) comes in. Regularly, according to the app description, “helps you keep track of all those repeating tasks which don’t have fixed calendar schedules.” It reminds me when to replace my toothbrush, switch out the water filter in our water dispenser, clean the A/C filter, and do other things that I have to do every so often.
Evernote (Android / iOS) is one of the most popular note-taking apps around, and for good reason. It syncs your notes across all your devices, allowing you to view and edit them from your phone, tablet, laptop, or anywhere else you have Evernote installed. It lets you tag or label notes to make them easier to find later on, and share notes with others. Those are just the features I use, and I’m sure there are more I haven’t even tried out.
I’ll say it again – I often joke that I store my brain in my phone. The truth is I store a big chunk of it in Evernote.
Avoiding online distractions
I have to read a lot of material online for my job, and one of the perils of doing this is getting distracted along the way. Practically everything I read includes links to other related articles, and those, in turn, lead to other posts. There is a wealth of useful information online. However, because practically everything is just one click (or two, or three) away, it’s too easy to lose hours of productive time just surfing the web.
Pocket (Android / iOS) helps me stay focused on my work. When a useful post leads me to an interesting link that, unfortunately, isn’t quite relevant to my current task, I use Pocket to save it for later. I can get right back to work, while Pocket caches a copy of the post that I can come back to when I have more time.
Because Pocket syncs across your different devices, you can pocket a video you find on your phone, and watch it when you get to a larger screen like your tablet or your computer. You can also save an article on your computer, and read it on your phone while waiting in line for your coffee. I know this doesn’t quite fit under the heading of avoiding distractions, but it’s a benefit of using Pocket nonetheless.
Getting around town
When I have to hit the road, I fire up Waze (Android / iOS) on my phone to keep me on top of the traffic situation and help me get to my destination as quickly as possible. It gives me voice-guided navigation, and even alerts me of hazards, accidents, police traps, and other things to watch out for on my route.
The beauty of Waze is that pretty much everything is contributed by its users. Traffic information is gathered from active users – as long as you keep the app open while driving around, you contribute tons of data. You can also actively contribute data by reporting accidents, police, traffic jams, and other information, but this is entirely optional.
Doing other things
My phone’s built-in calendar keeps track of my schedules and appointments, while LastPass (Android / iOS) helps me keep track of my passwords and login details. Dropbox (Android / iOS) and Google Drive (Android / iOS) serve as online repositories for my files, with the latter also serving as an online office suite.
These apps all help keep me organized, on-time, and on top of things. I rely heavily on technology to stay productive, and in this day and age, I wouldn’t be surprised if others did the same. Please tell us in the comments: where do you store your brain, and what apps help keep you from going insane?
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