Since starting out on my business journey, I’ve really enjoyed being able to use my own systems for planning, working and communicating and not having to fall in-line with established practices of employers. I thought it might be useful to share with you what apps etc I use on a daily basis to ensure a smooth working life…

Time Management – Toggl

I like to keep track of how much time I’m spending on certain tasks and activities – whether that be work for clients, business development, blogging or company admin. Many time-management systems are clunky, and this often leads to limited usage. Since starting Velocity Digital, I’ve been using Toggl to track time. Based in Estonia, Toggl is a cloud-based time management system that allows individuals and teams to track and manage their time. I love the simple interface and the fact that it works across web, desktop and mobile apps mean that I can use it regardless of where I am working. The reports are nice and clean and can be exported to PDF etc. This simple, clean approach means I use it all the time. It also sends you an email if you leave a timer running for too long, which is nice.

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 11.08.29

Is it free?

For 30 days, yes. You then need to pay $5 per user, per month. That could mount up if you are a big team, however, I’m happily paying that for my own personal use.

Will it be around in 12 months?

Toggl currently has a team of 12 and is constantly evolving the system (it recently integrated Google Calendars). The latest stat for users I could find was 300,000 registered. The fact that they have an early payment model would say to be that they are unlikely to fall off the face of the earth, leaving you with a time-management issue! You can keep up to date with Toggl on their blog.

Note taking (and a whole lot more!) – Evernote

I doubt that you haven’t already heard about Evernote, however I couldn’t have left it out of this list. At the basic level, Evernote is a web/mobile app that allows you to take notes. Those notes are stored in the cloud and automatically synced across your devices. I use Evernote in many different ways…

Note taking – I take notes on my iPad in meetings etc using Evernote. It saves on paper and the fact that I can tag the notes makes it very easy to search them in the future. I often actually write full documents in Evernote, the formatting options are very strong.

Bookmarking – If I read a great blog post etc online, I use the Chrome extension to ‘clip’ it to Evernote – the whole article is then added to Evernote and again can be searched in the future, that includes the actual copy of the article. I’m building up a huge resource within my Evernote, all filed away in separate ‘note books’ and tagged appropriately. Another great feature is the integration with Google search – if I am searching for something using Google, it will automatically search my Evernote at the same time.

Taking snaps of my scribbles – although I do try to be paper-free, when I need to get creative I always revert to pencil and paper. Using the camera function in Evernote, I then take a snap of the paper and store it, again with tags etc and Evernote will also search my hand-writing should I need to recall a scribble from days gone by.

Using Evernote means that I can have everything in one, universally accesible place and helps my productivity no-end.

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 11.47.10

Is it free?

The key features of Evernote are free. I pay for the Premium service – this offers 1GB per month of uploads, the ability to share notebooks, enhanced support and importantly, the ability to view notebooks offline.

Will it be around in 12 months?

Yes! Evernote has a number of products that are gaining in popularity (including Penultimate, an iPad-only app for handwriting that I regularly use). The service has 50 million users (currently adding 100,00 per day) and is pushing further into the business market. It has already been around for five years. They did have a security scare over the weekend, however no actual content was lost to hackers – email addresses were accessed, but Evernote dealt with the issue swiftly. This recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle has a nice feature on the service.

Mind mapping – Mindmeister

My brain works in mind-maps, I have never found a better way of getting my ideas out of my head and Mindmeister has helped me create neat and easy to follow diagrams for years. I do tend to start by drawing them on paper, but once I’m happy, I’ll use Mindmeister to finalise things. This allows me to send exported PDFs to people, or show the diagrams in meetings etc. Nobody wants to read my hand-written efforts! Mindmeister is very easy to use and has nice mobile apps too. You can also share maps and create co-editors which is great for collaborative working. I use it to map out projects, content plans, ideas and much more. Again, having all of this in one central point makes things very efficient and the tool is very easy to use. I also export them to PDF and then add to Evernote!

Is it free?

The free (or basic) version allows you to store three maps at any one time and also share them. This is fine if you are going to use at a very low level. For unlimited maps, the next option is $4.99 per month – this is the option I use. See here for full options.

Sample mind-map.

Will it be around in 12 months?

I can’t find a lot of data about Mindmeister, but I believe it is pretty solid. They are always developing the service and its apps, which is a good sign.

And that is that, three web things that can make a big difference to your productivity.

Stop press! –  I can’t believe I left Wunderlist out of this post! Amazing to do list app with beautiful and clever apps!

What apps etc help you to work well? Please do share in the comments below! 

Mike McGrail

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