As a business owner, you wear many hats. Hats that you never imagined you'd be wearing. You can go from scrubbing toilets to making a major purchasing decision in the span of an hour. You also know that time is your scarcest resource, with a never-ending to-do list and limited hours to actually do them..
Managing your time and effort is a challenge almost all business owners face. One of the things that I've found helpful is to try to be productive during times that are traditionally unproductive. Things like waiting for an appointment, standing in line at the store and driving in the car can all take up a good part of your day, why not make better use of that time.
Warning! What I'm talking about here is making productive use of your time when you're typically not being productive. Staring at your phone during your child's soccer game or while out for dinner is not what I'm talking about. We all know that person, don't be them.
Here are the 10 mobile apps that allow me to be super productive when I'm out of the office. All of them are free, with some having paid options for additional features. They also work on both Android and iOS.
Evernote probably makes most people's list when it comes to productivity. It's my most used app, and basically acts as my second brain. If you're not familiar with Evernote, it's a cloud based service that lets you save just about anything. Create and save text, image and audio notes right from your phone. I use this app for countless things like saving digital copies of paper documents, storing receipts/invoices and for storing ideas and information for future projects. Evernote comes in mobile, web and desktop versions so it's always close by when you need it.
My favorite cloud storage application. Dropbox lets me sync my office computer, laptop and mobile phone so I have access to all of my files from anywhere. If I make a change to a document on my laptop, the changes will automatically be reflected on every device I'm syncing with Dropbox. I can view and share files directly from my phone, which is great when you're out of the office for an extended period.
Cam Scanner turns your phone into a mobile scanner, allowing you to create and share PDF documents using the camera on your phone. You can digitize multi-page paper documents in a flash and share them straight from your phone. The thing I really like is that it integrates with other apps I use like Dropbox and Evernote, allowing me to upload or share files straight from my phone.
Any-do is a great to-do list app that lets you prioritize and organize your to-do list. You can set reminders, attach contacts from your phone to a specific task and add detailed notes to any item. This was the first to-do list app that made me comfortable enough to ditch the traditional paper and pen. While you can create multiple lists, It works better visually with a single list, at least in my opinion. If you have to manage several lists at the same time, I recommend you try Google's new note taking app called Keep. It syncs automatically with Google Drive, which is pretty cool.
Sign and return documents straight from your phone. No printing or faxing required. Upload or create a signature when you open a SignNow account and use that signature every time you need to sign and return a document. It's surprisingly easy to use on your phone. It's a legally accepted way to sign a document in most countries, including the U.S and Canada. They have a free account for 5 signed documents a month and paid accounts if you need more.
Same company that created Cam Scanner. Cam Card lets you take a picture of a business card, and automatically takes creates a new contact on your phone with the fields already populated. A great time saver, especially when attending events where you'll be collecting numerous business cards. Free and paid versions available.
Pocket lets you save articles you see around the web for easy reading later on. Use the Pocket bookmarklet or browser extension and save articles for later reading. You can then use the mobile app to read those articles as a time that's convenient to you. Articles can be read in a mobile friendly format, sans ads and other distractions, which are automatically stripped out. I always have a dozen articles on hand to stay on top of what's new in my industry. Also works without an internet connection. Free.
Just like with articles, I like to have a few podcasts ready to go for those long drives and days when you get stuck in a traffic jam. As someone who used to spend a lot of time in the car, I credit audiobooks and podcasts for giving me an education much more valuable than any university degree could have given me. Since I'm an Android user, I find Beyond Pod to be my podcast app of choice. While iTunes has a native podcasting app (mixed reviews), InstaCast is a great alternative.
Skitch is a mobile annotation tool that lets you create drawings, markup images as well as screenshots. It comes in handy for me when I need to take a mobile screenshot for a client and can markup the image before sending it off. It's a free app from Evernote and comes with a handy desktop version for your computer.
Hootsuite is my favorite social media app. The free version lets you sync up to 5 of your social media accounts so you can manage them all in one place. It has some great features such as customizing how you view your social media streams and scheduling posts for a future date. While I love social media, I try and not let it suck too much time from my day. Taking two minutes while you're at the checkout line is a great opportunity to catch up on what's happening online.
What apps do you use?
So these are my 10 favorite mobile apps for when it comes to being productive when I'm not in the office. What apps are your favorite?
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