So much work, so little time to get it all done. Plus, it’s not like you just take care of one thing – you’re jumping from project to student to parent to an OMG emergency all the time.
If your desk is a place where paper goes to die, and your computer monitor is covered in Post-It notes – it’s time to find a better way. Who has time to waste looking for stuff? Most of us feel guilty for an extra trip to the bathroom.
But once you lose control of how to manage your time, documents and priorities, the stress is crazy. You feel deadlines looming, lots of stuff is only half done, and two sets of parents showed up at the same time to meet with you.
Our Favorite Apps
You deserve an assistant, but since that’s not happening – let’s look at the top XX apps you can use to dig yourself out – and keep yourself out.
If keeping track of your notes, research and files is the issue, then Evernote is your app. Evernote is a cloud-based storage application (kind of like DropBox or Google Drive), but the focus is on organizing files – not just storing them.
Evernote lets you create virtual notebooks, which are kind of like folders. Choose a topic – say College Admission Deadlines and collect everything related to that topic. All those Post-it notes that you jot down while you’re on the phone? Just take a picture and upload them.
Plus, if you already have a bunch of files, just upload them too. Add a spreadsheet, clip part of a web page, screenshots. You can even add audio files if you’re inclined to record your thoughts as opposed to writing them down.
And of course, your Evernote account syncs across all your devices, so you always have access to your notes. If you read an article on the weekend that’s relevant, you don’t have to jot it down. Use your phone, tablet or computer to add it. No matter where you’re working – any changes you make to your notebook will be automatically shared across all your devices.
This app was created to help students stay focused when they were trying to study. Basically, what it does is turn off certain features and notifications from your phone while you’re working.
If you use a smartphone, it is set up for you to be plugged in all the time. Your email, personal and work, are usually hooked up to it. Then you’ve got Snapchat, Facebook, Tinder, Tumbler, Twitter on top of texts and emails and anything else your phone wants to share.
You decide a time frame for working without interruption – say 2 hours. Set up the app to withhold calls, texts, emails, social media notifications – all those annoying little pings and dings that pull you into your phone. (You can set up exceptions for certain people or accounts – for example, your child care provider.)
If you’re one of those rare people who can simply turn off their phone and stick it in a drawer – you don’t need this app. But if you tend to be a bit phone-addicted, (and you know who you are) this app might help you concentrate.
And If you make it through your designated off time – the app will even give you a pat on the back.
3. Remember the Milk
All those lists that you try to keep track of in your head? Now you can store them on your phone instead. Remember the Milk is a simple task list with reminders. You never have to explain why you forgot to sign a permission slip or missed a meeting at with the school board.
Everything from picking up your drying cleaning to setting up a FAFSA webinar – it all goes into the app. You set the due dates and the reminder times. You don’t have to switch from work to personal tasks; it’s all in one place. You can access the
Remember the Milk lets you delegate tasks too. If you’re leading a team or project, you can assign tasks to your colleagues and set reminders for yourself to check in and their progress. You can use it with student’s too – checking on progress on the commitments they made.
The app works to let you track important dates – like reminders for a deadline on college admissions. Just set up the task to send out an email – and you can get as granular as you want. Add as many tasks as you want from picking up the milk to analyzing data on college prep achievements.
Trello is an app designed for collaboration and managing group projects. You can use it on any device from your office desktop to your tablet at home to your smartphone. Trello is simple to use, and it stays simple no matter how many people are working together.
On Trello, you set up boards to track activities for various projects. On each board, you can pin a series of cards that represent a task or a recurring activity. All the people you’re working with get invited to join you on the app.
Team members are assigned to specific cards. Each card can be used to upload files, add comments and even include checklists for multi-step tasks. People who are working together have access to all the information contributed. Read documents, comment on drafts, share ideas – all in one place.
Users can look at boards or cards, and any member can view the cards that they are assigned. Each task has a due date, and Trello will automatically email people to remind them the date is coming up.
Whenever anything is shared on a card – an update is sent to the member’s email addresses. If you want to communicate with someone specific, you can address your comment to a specific user. You can access Trello from any device online or reply to comments on via email notifications.
5. Google Apps
Google offers a whole series of free tools that help you organize and collaborate. From Google calendar to Google Docs to Google Forms, all you need is a Google account. We’d suggest that even if you have a personal Google account, you create a separate account for work.
Once you have a Google account, you have access to all the other tools, including Google Drive for cloud storage and file sharing.
Google Calendar is a simply that – an interactive calendar you can share with other people. It’s easy to use, just click on a date and add a meeting, an appointment or just block out some time. The app will invite other people to the meeting and will display a list of attendees.
You can use Google calendar to manage your appointment schedule. If you have a web page, you can embed the calendar in your page. People will be able to see when you’re available for meetings as well as public events at the school.
Google Docs is a series of applications similar to Microsoft Office products. Write documents, create spreadsheets and build presentations online. You can invite people to collaborate on your content – they view your documents or edit them, depending on the permission you assign them.
The other nice thing about Google Docs – you can convert files from other applications so that they can be edited online as well. In fairness, some of your formatting may get messed up in the transition, but you can use the online version to make changes in the original. Just mark your changes with comments or highlights.
Google Forms are a great tool for collecting feedback, conducting surveys or creating mailing lists. This is one of Google’s more recent additions to the toolbox. Unless you’re in IT, building a web form is probably not something you’ve done. Now it’s easy – no coding required.
The form is pretty much drag and drop, and there are tons of tutorials if you need them. Other than how easy they are to build; Google Forms send the data you collect straight to a designated Google spreadsheet. Nothing complicated – everything all on your Google Drive. And of course, they can be accessed from any device you have.
Grab Your Apps
The first four apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store (for Android devices) or the App Store at iTunes (for Apple devices.) There are free versions and paid versions. It always makes sense to take the free version for a trial run before you consider the paid version.
The Google Docs mobile app and the Google Forms app can also be downloaded from the Play Store. Any Android phone will be preloaded with apps for Gmail, Google drive, and the Chrome browser. Most of the Google Apps can also be downloaded on an iPhone.
One last note – while you’re looking at free apps, make sure you have free virus protection on all your devices. Avast, AVG, and Norton all have free virus protection apps. Get one and use it.