There is an app for that. Whatever “that” is, there is likely a technological solution that strives to make it easier. But so many of these products fall short of making things more efficient and instead just add another level of clutter to your day.
I have tested many apps and services over the past several years, and I’m not one to give these tools much time. If they don’t immediately reward me with some sort of value, I chuck them on the trash pile and move on.
With some tools, the learning curve is so steep or the set-up process so in-depth that it makes them less worthwhile, as they are counter-productive before you even start.
Some people are okay with this, investing time on the front-end to save them time and stress on the back-end. But, I don’t want to invest the energy before I even know if it’s a tool I’m going to enjoy.
For that reason, my list of apps is short and precise. These are things I use daily. They work to make me more productive and more organized, without a whole lot of fuss. They allow me to manage my job, my side-hustles, and my insatiable appetite for information, good reading, and social media.
If you haven’t yet checked out Buffer app, you’re doing yourself a disservice. In freelance writing, it’s important to build connections online and to cultivate these relationships regularly. It’s also important that you share your work and/or work that inspires you and conveys to the world who you are. You are your brand, and marketing is huge. Buffer allows you to schedule your social media shares.
I carve out about 15-20 minutes each morning to scan the news and look for shareable content, identify any of my work that is either newly published or ripe for resharing, and load up my Buffer for the day. While I have my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts attached to Buffer, I mostly use it for Tweeting.
Pocket used to be called Read It Later, and that’s exactly what it allows you to do. Because I’m always stumbling upon articles and blogs I want to revisit—oh look, a squirrel!—but don’t want to indulge those distractions while I’m in the midst of something else, I can put them in my “pocket” for later.
I highly recommend using the tagging option to keep your Pocket organized. I add tags for “health” and “justice” (my two regular beats), along with those for “blogging”, “social media” and “homeschooling”. A word of warning: Your collection of articles can quickly get out of control, so set aside some time every week to either read or discard what you’ve pocketed. For me, it’s a great Sunday morning activity.
I could write an entire post on my uses for Evernote, and I haven’t even delved into all of it’s potential applications. Evernote is always open when I’m working. It’s where I keep my daily to-do list, where I outline stories, transcribe interviews, and make my grocery list. This app is on every device I own, and I keep discovering new ways in which to use it.
I’ve tried many scheduling and calendar apps and always go back to the one attached to my Gmail accounts. Because I have multiple Gmail accounts, I have given each one access to the others’ calendars, allowing me to post appointments relevant to my various work on separate calendars, but see them all in one place. I also use the “task” function to act as a sort of mini to-do list for daily writing projects.
Edited to add:
I really don’t know how I forgot this one, as Tweetdeck is open whenever I’m working. It’s great for seeing who’s talking about what, monitoring any of my stories that are shared, and reaching out to other journalists and editors. I set up columns based on my name and other conversations that I’m wanting to interject my thoughts into. For instance, if I post something on “top apps”, I may set up a column to see what people are talking about in regards to their favorite apps.
So there’s my list. Yes, I’m sure there are other good tools I am missing, but these are the ones that have proven their worth time and time again.
I’d love to hear about your top apps—list them here in the comments. But don’t give me anything you aren’t 100% behind, as our time is valuable! J