Top 5 Productivity Apps

Ok, raise your hand if one of your 2017 goals is to be more organized and productive? 

Now, raise your hand if you're already failing miserably at it... (I won't tell anyone, I promise)

As an event planner, it is not an option for me to be unorganized and unproductive. That's a surefire way for something to slip through the cracks or to find myself working unnecessarily around the clock. As a creative, sometimes my mind overflows with ideas and inspiration. I need a great way to collect all of those ideas and translate them into actionable plans to actually get s%*t done. (all my dreamer/creatives, can I get an amen?!)

So here you go...my top five apps that help keep me organized and on track. (NOTE: This post is NOT sponsored in any way, shape or form. I'm not receiving any kind of kickbacks from these companies, I just really love their products that much. Period.) It's also worth mentioning that every single one of these apps sync between my desktop, iPhone and iPad, so I literally have access to all of my information I could ever need at pretty much any time. Jackpot. 

1. EVERNOTE

COST: Free for the basic, but I only recommend that if you want to just give it a test drive. For it's FULL awesomeness you need the Premium which is $69.99/yr and worth every single cent. 

EASE OF USE: It's super easy to navigate and fairly intuitive. The real magic is once you take time to discover all the little things Premium has to offer, like searching for text within a PDF and annotating PDFs. (no more keeping pieces of paper from meetings!)

TEAM/CLIENT FRIENDLY: YES! You can share notes or whole notebooks with team members, clients, family members (great for sharing those old family recipes!) And now you can have chats directly within Evernote so if you need to discuss action items from a meeting or ask questions about a document, it's all connected together. 

Evernote is the most magical organizational tool, ever. Period. [Drops the mic and walk off stage.] It truly is the best way to go paperless. No more wondering where your sketches or notes are from your last team meeting or client meeting - snap a pic of them directly into Evernote, and even make notes on top of them! Before Evernote I used to take notes from meetings and save them as word documents (gasp, oh the horror). And of course, when I needed to reference something, I either couldn't remember what meeting it was from, or didn't have access to my computer. With Evernote, your notes are synced across all devices and searchable. You can also customize folders and notebooks and tags so that all of your data is quickly sorted. You can add to-dos, set reminder alarms, email notes directly from anywhere. 

I also love the web clipper! When I come across an idea or inspiration from something I read on the internet, I can immediately pull either the link, a simplified article or even just a screenshot directly into organized notebooks. I also have a "To-read" notebook where I can automatically drop any articles I come across that are interesting, but I just don't have time to read at the moment. 

BOTTOM LINE: If I had to get rid of all programs on my computer except one, Evernote would be the lone survivor. 


2. 2DO

COST: One time fee of $49.99 for the desktop application. (but you can try a 21 day free trial!)

EASE OF USE: There's a little bit of a learning curve up front as you figure out how to set up projects, groups and tasks, but once you get your own system going it's great!

TEAM/CLIENT FRIENDLY: Not as much. You can iMessage or email tasks to other team members, but this better serves its purpose as an individual task management system.

This app for me replaced Things, which I used religiously for years. Let me go ahead and say, if you're looking for a great team task management or project management system like Basecamp, this is not going to come close to that functionality. But what 2Do is great for, and what I love it for, is simple management of all my to-dos, both personal and professional. It syncs with Reminders to give you notifications (on your Apple watch too, if you have one!) to keep you from missing a task, and the multiple options for actions is fantastic (you can actually call or email someone directly from a task!) 

Perhaps my favorite use for this app is the Quick Entry. Because I'm sometimes that scatterbrained girl, I will think of a to-do task in the middle of another though. I can literally pull up a quick entry box with the press of two buttons, regardless of whether the app is even running in the background or not. I enter the task in and go on with what I was doing without missing a beat. 2Do is also great for scheduling reoccurring tasks.

BOTTOM LINE: Way better than carrying a notebook around with you everywhere you go, and super helpful for catching tasks as they pop into your brain at random hours of the night.


3. LATER.COM

COST: There's a wide range of monthly subscriptions ranging from Free all the way up to $49/month based on your needs. 

EASE OF USE: Holy moly, it is SO easy to upload images and schedule bulk posts across multiple social media platforms! 

TEAM/CLIENT FRIENDLY: Super friendly! Depending on your package, you can add multiple team members, assigning them to specific groups (so they don't necessarily have access to ALL your social accounts) and even add multiple mobile devices so more than one person can post for different accounts. 

Y'all. I can't tell you enough just how this bad boy has been a GAME CHANGER for me in the social media arena. In my previous Creative Director role, I was responsible for managing and creating content for eight, yes I said EIGHT, different social media platforms. (not including my own personal ones) Three of those platforms I managed were Instagram...which if you know anything about scheduling social media posts, you know that Instagram does not allow auto scheduling. Which meant there was a whole lot of sending images to my phone, copying and pasting and switching between accounts...let's just say my battery life on my phone was dismal, and so was the ridiculous amount of time I was having to spend on social media. Ugh.

And while you still can't auto post to Instagram, Later is the next best thing! I can go in, schedule posts for Insta, Facebook and Twitter, do bulk uploading of images and scheduling, and SO much more. Once I downloaded the app to my phone, I simply get a notification when it's time for an Instagram post, I tap to open in Instagram, and my picture is already there. All I have to do is hit "paste" to drop in the text that was automatically copied to my clipboard when I opened the app! So incredibly easy that it literally has shaved hours off of the time I had to spend on social media each week. 

BOTTOM LINE: If you manage any form of social media other than your own, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to later.com and get some of your social media sanity back. 


4. DROPBOX

COST: Monthly packages start at $8.25 and go up from there, depending on your file storage needs. 

EASE OF USE: Super easy - great drag & drop functionality.

TEAM/CLIENT FRIENDLY: Absolutely - this is why I went with them in the first place.

Dropbox met a great need for me that I kept bumping into with my previous job...I constantly had large graphic or video files that I needed to send/share with teammates or colleagues that were too big to email. Dropbox became that fast, secure way for me to get people what they needed, and eventually it became a great place for me to stash other photos and files I often needed access to when I was away from my computer. Dropbox is also where I backup all of my iPhone photos automatically.

BOTTOM LINE: It's a great workhorse of an app and it helps me collaborate with team members and clients in a quick, efficient and secure way.


5. GROUPME

COST: Free. Woot!

EASE OF USE: My toddler could probably use it. If he could figure out my iPhone passcode.

TEAM/CLIENT FRIENDLY: It's pretty lonely if you don't use it with other people!

GroupMe is like a private chat room on your phone for your team, your friend group, or whomever else you deem interesting enough to have a group conversation with. And the best thing about it is that all those chats don't take up precious memory on your phone like texts do! You can share images, files, and my favorite, GIFs. (because we all need some GIF comedy every now and then)

I was introduced to GroupMe through a team I volunteer with. Once a year we help pull off a conference for over 50,000 students with a small leadership team of about 75 people. Every conference, this leadership team of 75 used to have to all don big bulky radios with headsets for the week, in addition to our phones, and it was such a hassle. (not to mention the phantom chirps I would hear in my ear for weeks after the conference ended!) Switching to GroupMe for team communication was amazing - no one talked over someone else, you can direct message individuals if needed so you don't clog up communications, and it's one less gadget we had to worry about. Such a great free resource! I even use it now with a group of friends (aka my "Girl Squad") to keep in touch and schedule monthly group girls nights!

BOTTOM LINE: Business and social win, in my books!


So there you have it, folks. I hope these app suggestions are helpful.  I know the thought of learning or adapting to any new system can seem daunting and overwhelming, but if you really take the time to create a great system for yourself, you'll be on your way towards crushing those goals in no time!