Here I shall list and describe five tools I use — and thus, recommend — for organising my life, hobbies, job and blog. And the majority of these tools are freeeeeeee.
1. GOOGLE CALENDAR. life | work | blog | £: free
I'm definitely coming to the party late here, I know. But I have finally started using Google calendar to keep track of my daily, weekly, monthly and yearly events, including syncing it with my Android mobile. The whole she-bang. I use a lot of other Google based services so it really is a wonder I never used this before. The only downside is that I can't 'sync' it with my work calendar (because my work are bonkers and use IBM Lotus Notus). Meaning I have to add any work related events/reminders manually. Boo.
2. EVERNOTE. life | work | blog | £: free
I was one of those people that just didn't get Evernote; why you would use it and what for. For some people this goes as far as 'Why wouldn't you just create a series of Word documents.' a) No, and b) Just no.
My first flirtation with Evernote left me feeling rather cold. But I really wanted to like it so turned to the internet for inspiration, read a series of articles on it and decided I'd give it another go. The result? I love it. It is a 'cloud' based application which you can access via desktop software and mobile apps (look how pretty it is!), as well via the web version. I want to stress if you're unsure, you should just have a play with it and persevere.
So yes, Evernote might just be my new favourite e-toy. It does just about everything I want. For example, this blog post first existed in Evernote, one Friday lunchtime at work when inspiration struck. I can even use it to create and add events to my Google calendar (I do this via Event Noted. but have since discovered you can do this using IFTTT, mentioned further down this post.) For any O2 customers in the UK, you can get a year's free Evernote Premium which includes offline notebooks; an increase in the upload and note size; and the ability to share notes and allow others to edit, amongst other things.
Still not convinced of it's worth? I concede, it may not be for everyone but if you're open to the possibility, please see the links below for a whole series of articles on what's so great about Evernote as well as how to use it for blogging.
I've Been Using Evernote All Wrong. Here's why it's actually amazing. | What's All the Fuss About Evernote? Should I Be Using It?
Using Evernote for blogging | 10 Tips To Better Productivity With Evernote | How to user Evernote as a blogger | How Evernote Has Made Me a More Productive Blogger | 6 Benefits of Evernote for Bloggers
Now this one, I totally 'got' but until recently, never completed on my mission to use it. Mainly because I was scared of its power! So, what is it? IFTTT — pronounced like 'gift' without the 'g' — stands for If This Then That. Quite simply: if x happens, then do y. IFTTT.com allows you to create (or use already created) 'recipes' to connect your different web applications and set certain actions to trigger automatically.
iPhone users can trigger a recipe by adding photos to a specific folder within iOS Photos or creating an iOS Reminder. Now, you can even trigger recipes based on entering or leaving a specific location, or both!
I do hope it doesn't sound complicated because it really isn't. If it does, please blame my explanation and simply visit the website at IFTTT.com.
4. OUT OF MILK. life | £: free
Another cloud based application which allows you to organise your shopping. I hear you; shopping isn't difficult?! You're right, it's not. But this app has some very handy functions. For example, ever find yourself at the supermarket, perhaps on the way home, wondering whether you have a jar of cumin in the cupboard for the chilli you wanted to make, or any baking powder left for the cake you were planning to bake? Well, with this app, you can create Pantry Lists that allow you to keep track of your baking supplies, spice rack and other essentials. You can specify quantity and expiration date, as well price. And when you run out of said supply? Just copy it to your current Shopping List.
You can populate your Shopping List using a barcode scanner or voice recognition, both of which work very well. It will remember items you have previously entered, suggest items as you type, let you calculate the cost of your shop (with the option to include tax), and all this will be synced across the mobile app and the website: outofmilk.com.
There is a lot of other functionality that I am yet to try including the ability to import, export, sort, search and share lists! For a big household, sharing can be pretty handy. All that remains is for it to connect with major supermarkets e.g. Tesco, for the times I order my shopping online.
5. PAPER. hobbies | £4.99
Since my other organisational tools are electronically-orientated, I seem to have less time, and need, for paper. But I do still love stationery. I'd heard of German stationers Leuchtturm1917 before but a post by Josie of The Finch's Beak reignited my interest. Like her, Moleskine had been part of, if not monopolising, my organisational arsenal for years but I wanted a change. Whilst I'd already purchased my Moleskine diary for 2014, I still needed to get a notebook for sewing. After perusing their selection, I settled on the medium squared paper Jottbook in turquoise.
The squared paper is a by-product of using lab books filled with squared paper for my calculations, sketches, postulations, etc. for the last decade. And I like it. I already have Moleskine's A4 and A5 hard cover squared paper notebooks, that do a great job but are quite heavy to lug around and also, a touch expensive.
Not wanting to carry around, and probably lose an appropriate pen, I opted for a Bobino Slim Pen which adheres to the inside cover of your notebook, also in turquoise (colour matching/complementing is a thing I like to do too).
Which tools do you use to organise your life? Any organisational tips you have to share?