Each day as an independent professional is chock-full of things to do. From client meetings and project pitches to account management and brand marketing, it’s not always easy to know where to start. Luckily, apps can lend a helping hand and keep you on track. Here are eight apps to help you optimize time, meet goals, and boost productivity this year.
A great way to start off your day or week is with a to-do list, which can help you set priorities and goals. By digitizing your checklist of things to do, you can interact with your tasks and get a better overview of what you accomplish each day and week. Todoist is a popular tracking app that tracks your daily progress of goals or tasks you set. You can also add tasks to a virtual calendar and receive notifications of upcoming tasks so you can remember when important deadlines are coming up.
2. Insight Timer
Running your own business comes with highs and lows. If you’re not feeling particularly motivated or creative, it can be hard to produce quality work. InsightTimer is a meditation app that can help you reset and recharge. Choose a guided meditation ranging from a few minutes to an hour-long session, put on a relaxing playlist, or listen to an inspirational talk while you take a walk outside. Sometimes, you just need a few moments of peace and quiet to renew your energy and work drive.
There are a lot of tasks that go into a single project and things can quickly get complicated, especially if you are completing work for multiple clients at once. Zenkit is a handy project management tool that allows you customize organization of individual projects. For example, a detailed table might work best for a long-term project, whereas a mind map might be more ideal for a new proposal you’re working on. In addition to these different views, you can track, label and filter activities, share and store documents using the cloud, or make use of templates if you’re not sure where to start.
There aren’t always enough hours in the day to get everything done—or are there? Sometimes, it’s just about how you spend your time. Track the time you spend on tasks and generate reports to see where you are spending the most time with Toggl. This app is particularly helpful to get an idea of what your time is worth. By tracking the amount of time you spend on each project and for what client you can see where you are making money and where you may be losing it by spending too much time on a task.
Smartphones can be an easy source of distraction, begging you to check email or social media accounts. When you have important deadlines to meet, or you’re simply looking to use your phone less, Forest gives you incentive to put down your device and get to work. Forest is based on the Pomodoro technique—working in 25-minute increments followed by 5-minute breaks—and each time you start the timer, you plant a virtual tree that ‘grows’ if you complete the 25-minute increment without touching your phone (if you leave the app, your virtual tree dies).
But here’s the catch. As you grow your forest in the app, you earn virtual coins that can be used to plant actual trees via a partnership Forest has with Trees for the Future. Focus your time and plant trees where they’re needed—sounds like a pretty good deal.
6. HelloSign, Scanbot
Running a business often means ending up with a lot of important paperwork and documents that need to be filed, sorted, and stored. Those tasks can quickly take up valuable time. HelloSign allows you to scan, edit, and sign documents with legally binding eSignatures. If you just need to scan general documents, check out the free version of Scanbot, which allows you to easily generate high-quality virtual documents, PDFs, or JPG files, that can be auto-saved on the cloud or emailed directly to clients.
As the new year begins, it can be easy to get excited about new goals, but after a few weeks as that initial energy wears off you may find yourself back at square one. Streaks helps you build positive habits or break negative ones. The idea behind the app is to complete a streak of consecutive days working on your task to make a new habit part of your reality.
Nearly everything online today requires some sort of username and password, but remembering all these combinations is virtually impossible and writing down sensitive information isn’t the safest choice. LastPass provides secure password storage using strong encryption algorithms. Review and manage all of your existing passwords in a secure virtual vault and then create a master password that provides automatic access whenever you log into a website or app.