On most nights, from about 5:30-7:30, my phone goes missing. Huddled on the sofa, my boys take turns playing their favorite games – Angry Birds, Monster Truck Bash, Subway Surfer, Sonic Dash, and Stachify, which lets you place a mustache on any picture you take. They love it. At least half of the apps on my phone are for their entertainment.
But, apps aren’t just for wasting time or for entertaining your children – they can improve productivity as well. Most of the resources that help manage your day at your desk have an equally great mobile counterpart, allowing you to extend your reach while away from the office. The apps I use most often keep me aware of what’s going on at the office when travelling and have replaced the need to bring my laptop home at night when I need to play a bit of catch up.
Here’s a look at 5 of my favorite apps for business:
Note Taking – Evernote (Free & Premium Option)
Of all the note apps I’ve used, Evernote is far and away the most robust while still remaining user friendly. It allows you to store notes, images, documents, web clips, and audio – and everything is searchable, even words found within an image. I find the search feature really helpful after photographing a whiteboard from a brainstorming session. You can email notes to the Evernote app, which it will then store, and email your Evernote documents to colleagues for view on their phone or desktop. I find this app most beneficial for remembering those early morning ideas or to-dos that pop in my head before reaching the office.
Project Management – Basecamp (Free with paid desktop account)
If you aren’t using the desktop version you should be – Basecamp provides excellent project management capabilities, allowing you to organize tasks by projects and invite an endless number of contributors, both co-workers and clients. It’s the best I’ve found and we wouldn’t survive without it at the office. The mobile version allows access to all of your projects, provides progress updates on all users, allows you to attach and download documents, check off to-dos, and more – pretty much everything the desktop version allows. Currently it’s only available for the iPhone, but it also works well through your phone’s internet browser.
Organization – Slice (Free)
This is one of the more unique business apps I’ve come across. With Slice, you can track, organize, and discover trends across all of your online purchases. After providing your email address, Slice will update you with pending, shipping, and delivery notifications. You’ll also begin to discover shopping habits and find all of your previous orders stored for future reference or re-order. Under the History tab you’ll find your full spending history, with a total at the top (which can be a bit shocking). Under Profile, you’ll find all of your spending organized in a pie chart by categories. This is also handy for e-tickets; simply open the app and your ticket is available to be scanned by the attendant. I have my personal and business email addresses setup for notifications.
File Sharing – CloudOn (Free)
If you are away from the office and are working within the Microsoft Office Suite, you need CloudOn; it allows you to review, edit, share, and even create Microsoft files in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint from your mobile device. Everything is shared on the cloud and you have several different options for storage and sharing – Dropbox, SkyDrive, Box, or Google Drive (my preference). One of my favorite features is the built-in Adobe Reader and File Viewer, which allows you to open and view PDFs, JPGs, PNGs, GIFs, and more.
Social Media – Facebook Pages Manager and LinkedIn (Free)
Most of you are likely using Facebook personally, but are you using it for your business? With over 1 billion users and the second most-used internet property behind Google, more than likely your business will benefit from a Company Page. Facebook Pages Manager is the best way to engage your audience, and it’s even better if you’re managing multiple accounts. It provides most of the desktop functionality, allowing you to engage and respond to your following from the recliner.
The most common activity on a LinkedIn account is accepting or declining connection requests, but there’s so much more to this social media tool. The Linked In app provides easy access to my favorite two places of engagement – updates and group dialogue. With a home screen that is easy to navigate, you’ll quickly be able to read and reply to your connection’s posts and you’ll find great access to all of your groups. I’ve found that I use Linked In more from my phone than from my desktop.
There are a few honorable mentions that just make life easier – if you arrive early or leave late, you’ll enjoy the Flashlight app to help your key find the lock. And I’m sure you’ve seen those barcode boxes on advertisements? Download QRReader to scan those and receive more information on the product or promotion. And one more must have for me – if you’re a music lover and never know the song playing on a commercial or at the grocery store, download Shazam; with the press of a button it listens and tells you the band, song, album, and offers an iTunes purchase option.
(And just for fun, I like Free Flow, Swing Shot, and Jetpack)
There are a lot of great apps out there, and not all of them have to waste your time – some apps can help you find more time. For me, my phone doesn’t create an endless work day or distract me from my family at home; instead, it helps maximize my time away from the office, which gives me the freedom to leave work every day at 5:15.
It’s rare that I can fit everything into a 7-5 day, so if I can squeeze in a little bit of work or prepare for the next day after the kids have gone to bed, that’s a win for me and my family, and it helps my morning get started on the right foot.