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Anyone that knows me or has been following me for a while will know that I’m a pen and paper girl. I love notebooks, stationery and the joy of writing things down. Bullet journalling, creating progress trackers and a good old to do list – there’s something deeply satisfying about crossing off an item and then admiring how much you’ve achieved at the end of the day.
Sometimes though, carrying round a notebook and pen isn’t always practical. There’ll be times when you’re out and about and will need to write down a date of an appointment or make a note of something and it’s easier to just grab your phone.
Now I’m going to start this post with a little disclaimer – there’s nothing groundbreaking in here. In fact, sometimes the best systems are the simplest. They’re the ones staring us straight in the face but we over-complicate things and go in search of some new, life-changing solution. Believe me I know, I’ve downloaded hundreds of apps over the years hoping to find the one that transforms my productivity but alas, it’s always the good old fashioned, simple ones that work the best. Who’d have thought it eh?
So this is how I use my smartphone for organisation and productivity, when I don’t have my journal or trusty to do list.
This has been a game-changer, particularly since Luke started Uni. I’ve been able to sync up his Uni calendar with my own so I no longer have to ask 12145455 times a week what days he’s in uni and what time he’ll be home – instead I can look.
Don’t worry, it’s not so I can keep my beady eye on his every move – it’s just nice to know whether I’m getting a break from bath-time tonight or if Dada will be on bed duty.
I also like to add in appointments on the go – if I make plans with someone, I pop it straight in the calendar. If I buy tickets to an event, my email automatically puts it in for me.
Our schedule is crazy busy so little things like this just help to ensure that we don’t double book ourselves or overstretch ourselves.
At the end of the month, I’ll go through the calendar and write everything up on my family planner in the kitchen because I like to have it at a glance too.
Popping in appointments like this also helps when it comes to writing up next month’s budget because it’s easy to see how many social appointments we have so I can then decide how much money needs to be set aside for them.
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Another google app – this is where I keep my digital to do lists. I’ve tried many other to do list apps but I love the ease of use and simplicity of this one. It’s basically like a digital noticeboard with post-its on.
You can create a new note, add reminders, colour code it, add a checklist etc. But you can move them around and pin the top priority ones to the top and when you’re done with one you can archive it.
I love the checklist on this because as you tick an item off, it crosses it out and drops it to the bottom of the list. There is a master cleaning checklist for each room in the house which I like to use because they make me work a little bit harder and cram in that extra chore for the satisfaction of crossing it off (come on – I know I’m not the only one!).
I also use this for shopping lists, other to do lists, master packing lists for if we go away overnight (for each family member) – because I ALWAYS forget something otherwise and for little ‘notes to self’/reminders.
I’ve colour coded it so that my cleaning lists are one colour, my shopping lists another, notes another and packing lists another. It’s an organisation dream.
Another app that’s very simplistic in it’s concept but oddly motivating is the Counter app. I mainly use this to track two things – items decluttered and eBay listings. You literally just tap the counter when you want to add another item to the total. I like to reset the counters each week but how you use it is really up to you. You could track anything I suppose! You can also colour code your counters and there’s an option to export to CSV/Excel so I imagine depending on what you were tracking you could get some pretty decent analysis from it too (though I’ve not felt the need to use that feature).
Sometimes the most effective systems really are the simplest! These 3 tools help me to stay organised which in turns boosts my productivity and helps me to reduce the feeling of overwhelm, which in our modern lives is really important!
What are your go-to apps for organisation and productivity? Drop them in the comments so I can check them out (if I haven’t already!).
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I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!