Who doesn't want to be more productive, creative, and prosperous?
The good news is that technology — the exact same tool that often drives us to distraction and causes us stress — can also help you craft your best year yet. Whether you are looking to boost your job search or improve your productivity, read on for some organization apps that I cannot live without.
Evernote is my external brain for everything, from random notes to reminders on the go. Thought of a blog post idea, remembered that you need to return a phone call from a recruiter, or heard an inspiring quote? This little organization app captures it all to free up your processing capacity for other important tasks.
Have you ever felt like email creates more work and stress than it eliminates? Then you owe it to yourself to look into Boomerang. This Google extension is a must-have productivity app. It allows you to schedule emails to be sent in the future. It also helps you automate follow-up and reminds you when someone has not responded to your message. I love not having to spend time and mental energy on items like “E-mail Company X if you have not heard from them by Monday” and I think you will, too!
3. Headspace, Calm, or Spire
A meditation or mindfulness app can be a lifesaver, whether you're dealing with the stress of searching for a new job or just trying to get through an average day with your sanity intact. I like Headspace for its simple, no-nonsense approach to building a mindfulness practice. Calm is great for targeted programs, like 7 Days of Managing Stress or Calming Anxiety.
Spire is a relatively new app and tracker that I would describe as a FitBit for your mental game. In addition to tracking your activity, it monitors your breathing patterns to send you a gentle reminder when your breathing could indicate elevated stress levels. It also tracks and rewards the mental states of calm and focus. I have found that it's effective in bringing my awareness to stressful moments and interrupting the pattern of shallow breathing for a change in attitude.
4. Habit List
Finding a new job or growing in your career comes back to knowing your strengths and building strong habits around them. No matter what good habits you are looking to build, an organization app like Habit List can help. Simply enter your desired habits into the tracker, set up reminders and track your success. I credit this app with getting me to drink more water – sounds simple until you consider that before this app, most of my liquid intake included caffeine!
5. Betterment or Acorns
Money can be a tough subject for many people, and recent surveys around financial literacy and behaviors show an enormous gap in both knowledge and money habits. Consider that a study done by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 42 percent of Millennials are heavy users of alternative financing (such as payday loans, pawn shops, car title loans and tax refund advances). Nearly 50 percent don't believe they could come up with $2,000 if an emergency arose in the next month, and 30 percent routinely overdraw on their checking accounts.
I like the idea of automating good behaviors to take human error and emotions out of the process. To help get your financial situation under control, test-drive a savings app like Acorns that rounds up your purchases and deposits the change into a savings account automatically. Betterment can also be used to automate your savings: just set up an automatic weekly transfer and watch the balance grow.
6. Dropbox or OneDrive
“I have found the perfect opening for you – but we have to move quickly before the company makes this posting public! Can you send me your updated resume ASAP?”
If you get that email on your commute and time is of the essence, you will be grateful for an app like Dropbox or OneDrive. By storing your key documents in a secure cloud where you can access and share them anytime, you bring your virtual office with you no matter where you go. In a few clicks, the resume is on its way to the prospective employer – and you did not have to put your day on hold to get it done.
7. OnceHub or Calendly
Coordinating interviews, screening calls and lunch meetings can be tough in the best of times. If you have to do it while working full-time, the complexity of the task grows exponentially. It can take four to six emails just to get the logistics set up, which means that you are losing valuable time and potentially missing great opportunities.
To solve meeting coordination woes, try an organization app like OnceHub or Calendly. Both allow you to share your calendar while keeping appointment details private. The other party can simply choose an available time block and claim it in a few clicks. Everyone gets a confirmation email, frustration is eliminated – there is no downside that I can think of.
8. 1password (or a similar password vault)
Digital security is a real concern any time of year – and good passwords are your first line of defense. The trouble with good passwords is that they must be long, complex and unique to each point of digital access. In other words, tough to break often means tough to remember. A digital password vault may be a surprising addition to the list of productivity apps, but think of the time lost searching for a forgotten password or undoing the effects of a data breach and you will see its value.
Secure password vaults like 1password can store multiple passwords and passphrases of considerable complexity, which helps keep your data out of prying eyes and hands.
Bonus tip: Use the data accumulated and analyzed after known password breaches to test how secure your passwords are. Then, use the feedback you get to create stronger passwords and passphrases next time.
How would you like it to have business events in your area identified and sent to you with no effort on your part? If you want to automate search and logistics coordination for networking events, take a look at 10times. This app allows you to find local events that match your interests and profile, RSVP, see who is attending and maximize on the power of human connection.
Professional growth, whether in your current position or at a new company, can bring a fair share of discomfort with it. No matter what your professional challenge is, you might find that connecting with sources of inspiration, fun and good advice can make a difference in a rough day.
Podcasts are a great way to accomplish that on the go because they fit into your busy life: you can listen during your commute, a gym workout session or while running errands. Just find a few thought leaders to follow, and you will have access to a fresh bite-sized dose of encouragement, resilience or a kick in pants any time you need it. I like The Tim Ferriss Show for hacks and insights into the lives of amazing people. "How Did You Get Into That?" by author Grant Baldwin is great for career origin stories.
If social media addiction is messing with your ability to be productive in your job search, it may be time for an intervention. Browser extensions like Kill News Feed will interrupt your attempted Facebook session with a reminder to focus on the task in front of you. I have found that using it for about a month virtually eliminated the negative effects of social media as a path to procrastination for me.
So, no matter what your goals are for 2017, technology can help you get organized, boost your career and create amazing results.
Work smarter, not harder. Start by optimizing your resume with a free review.
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