As the new year gets started, I thought I’d share some great finds I’ve come across that I’ve integrated into my digital life, allowing me to work faster and smarter. Consider this a little something to kick start your new year – many of these are excellent time savers that will make your daily life and/or work life easier. There’s even a great gift idea.
What I like about these is they are all simple to use, sporting great interfaces. They’re intuitive enough to get started right away, without searching FAQs on how to get started. You simply get going by using them, they’re that simple. And because they’re that easy, they all drive value from the very start. As you integrate them more into your daily digital life, their value increases.
My Top 2
If you only try out two apps, give these a try. Both are game-changers.
Find yourself holding on to too many tabs in your browser, and watching your world slow down around you? OneTab fixes this for you by taking all your open tabs and combining them into “one tab” with links back to each site that was open, reducing the amount of memory you’re using on your desktop.
Having trouble keeping up with all your bookmarks? And they’re on different devices. So many bookmarks, but virtually unsearchable. That’s where Pocket comes in. With Pocket, you save pages and tag them as you go. Return to the Pocket home page and find whatever you’ve saved. Search by tag, and voila, your saved pages are all there. Extremely simple and efficient.
More great time savers & efficiency apps
iOS Today View widgets
Are you making good use of the “Today View” on your iPhone? If not, you should start. You can customize this page to ensure what’s important to you is right up front, whenever you pick up your phone. Keep your weather, stocks, and other news apps handy, along with maps and the current travel times to important destinations. It’s all just a swipe away.
Google maps “labels”
Everyone is using Google Maps, that’s nothing new. But are you using the “label” feature effectively? If you have places you travel to often, creating labels in Google Maps makes it simple to find your way there in the future. After you create the label, typing one or two letters in the search box quickly brings up the location you’re looking for.
There are a lot of loyalty card apps available, so pick one and get started making your wallet a lot thinner. I’m using Stocard – it was easy to set up and only took a few minutes to get about a dozen cards activated in the app. You may find you even use them more often. Frankly, I think apps like this could spell a resurgence in loyalty programs, as one of the key reasons people limit their programs is to limit the cards they carry around.
Most major cities have installed apps for parking meters. If you live in one of these cities and are not using the parking app for paying for parking, you really should get on this. Load up the app with 20 bucks and off you go. After you park, let the app know where you are, and when you’ll return. Then, if you need to, top up using the app if you’re running late. Don’t worry about carrying cash around for parking meters, and forget about slow connections when paying by credit. This app is easy to use, and a real game changer for anyone using parking meters a lot.
Quick by GoPro
Wow. If you take a lot of pictures and like to share them, this app is outstanding. Create slide shows on your device or desktop (including both stills and video) in seconds, add music (supplied, or your own) and watch your creation. No need to have a GoPro to use this app. It’s extremely easy and delivers awesome results.
Work faster and smarter
Need some work edited, but don’t have the time, or need someone who’s better at grammar than you are? You should check out Editorr, the slick shared service that ensures your work is professionally edited in minutes.
Need some quick work done? Graphics, writing, digital marketing. Someone can do it for you, for just a few bucks or so. It’s quick, the trick is to find a reputable resource; then get going.
It’s your online grammar checker. Once installed, Grammarly will check your work, as you type, in virtually any application.
Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote
If you were annoyed when Evernote changed their business model, then you should be making the switch to OneNote (Microsoft) or Google Keep. Both can be used across all devices and desktop, without extra charges for additional devices (vs Evernote charges). If you keep a lot of Notes and like to categorize them, then OneNote is for you. Its slick interface allows for tabs within notebooks, making it easy to create new notes in just the right place. And, best of all, there’s an importer for transferring all your data from Evernote to OneNote – it takes just a few minutes and is about 95% spot on in copying all your stuff.
Google Keep is great for quick notes like shopping lists or other things that come to mind throughout your travels. Adding images or audio is a snap with either app.
We all have plenty of options for playing music. Why do we need another? Because this one is so simple, and it’s always available on your device or browser. There are only a couple of tracks — geared to helping you get your work done. When you’re at your desk and need some musical white noise, give FocusMusic a shot. Just click “play”.
Watch what you want, where & when you want
We all know Netflix, but did you know they just launched the ability to download to your device and watch without a connection? And it’s all part of the monthly fee you’re already paying. Going away for the holidays? Want to watch what you want on the plane? Get on this, stat!
Podcasting in your spare time
5 Great Podcasts
If you’re looking for something to listen to over the holidays, here are 5 great podcasts that cover social media, digital marketing, content marketing and overall business subjects. All are well worth your time.
PNR With This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.
The Agents of Change with Rich Brooks.
The Social Media Marketing Podcast with Michael Stelzner.
HBR IdeaCast with several hosts covering a range of business topics.
Six Pixels of Separation with Mitch Joel.
Great gift idea
It might be a bit late to jump on this great gift idea for the holidays. If so, remember it for birthdays or other events, or tuck it away until next year. These are great customizable notebooks; they’re available with various interiors (blank, lined, watercolour). You supply the art for the cover, and they do the rest. I supplied the art for the one pictured here.