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In our hectic lives we are constantly searching for ways to simplify life, even though most people have smart phones, only a few are actually using them to capacity. Why is it that we don’t engage and try available apps to work more effectively and increase productivity? Perhaps we are overwhelmed by or fearful of the unknown, but there are those apps that are really worth a try!

There are literally thousands of apps available for all kinds of things and the challenge is to find one that works for you. Don’t clutter your phone with apps that you don’t use or never will try. Delete any app that doesn’t work for you or you don’t intend using. Search for apps that will simplify an aspect in your life, then try a couple to find which one will work for you.

What I love is that most apps synchronise amongst all the platforms that you are using, from your tablet, to your PC, to your mobile. Many are free. You can easily share with family, friends or colleagues. Most apps are web based and can be accessed from anywhere. Most apps are available for any system, whether Android, Blackberry or iPhone.

1.    Time management

It becomes essential in our hectic lives to be able to synchronise our activities with that of the family.  I use Google Calendar to keep me up to date and share with my husband appointments, birthdays and important events. It is easy to use. Click on the day and type the appointment in on the time.  As I make an appointment on site with a client, my husband can see it on his PC.

You can share with anyone who has permission to access your calendar, so that when Johnny schedules his Saturday cricket match it appears on your calendar too.You can set up reminders which are text messaged or e-mailed to you.Send invites and keep track of the RSVP’s.You can have day, week, month or agenda view and even print it out.It sync’s with Outlook and other calendars so that all your appointments are in one place.If this doesn’t work for you try Cozi Calendar for family organisation.

2.    To do list

To keep you on track with all your to-do’s, get rid of all the scraps of paper and reduce mind clutter, have them all in one place with, I love Wunderlist but look at others which might work for you or are possibly even more effective. It’s easy to use, just add your to do in any list, set  due date and reminder, set subtasks and notes, add photos, videos, audios and files. Share lists by e-mail add a comment to get things done. View lists by date, week or all. Repeat tasks can be set for days, weeks, months or years. Sync lists across all your devices.

There inevitably are shortcomings in these apps like one I have come across in Wunderlist – you can only star items to prioritise; you can’t order them in sequence of priority.

You might think me silly but every time I check off a to-do, I have to smile as it pings and disappears into the completed list; it gives me such a sense of accomplishment!

3.    Shopping list

I got tired of writing shopping lists and forgetting them at home. With an app like “My Shopi” I can make my list on my mobile, which is always with me, as and when an item reveals itself. Makes shopping a breeze. Similar app: Remember the milk.

Select your product in a category from beautiful visuals with 1000 predefined items or add your own items along with a photo if it isn’t listed. Organise your categories according to aisles in your supermarket saving time whilst shopping.Create multiple lists according to shops or your needs. Add notes or quantities to your list. It keeps track of repeat purchases, to simplify your list making. As you pick an item and check it on your list it disappears off the list into a checked item list so you can keep track of what you still need to buy.

I found the real value of this list when I was housebound after and operation and could share the list via E-mail or sms with my hubby to shop on his way back home from work.

4.    Reading

No time to read an article, recipes, look at videos or images on your browser? Put it in an app like “Pocket” for easy access later on any of your devices.

Save them under your own categories or interests. Access what you have downloaded offline. Perfect for travel, to read when your data is switched off. Share the stuff that you loved by email, Face book, Evernote or twitter and when you are done with it delete it.

5.    Storage

Access files, videos, pictures, images and designs from anywhere with 15GB free storage on Google Drive with any of your devices. Safely share files and folders with anyone, without an e-mail attachment and collaborate with your team. It has improved search features and allows you to see results as you are typing. You can store anything in Drive in specific folders according to your needs.

What really works for me is that you can scan paper documents with Drive for Android. Take a photo of the page. Crop the part that you need. (Perfect to organise your recipes that you see in magazines.)Store it as PDF in your chosen folder and have it accessible on any of your devices anywhere. Make files available offline should you not have service.

6.    Sell your stuff

With an app like OLX or Gumtree you can put your decluttered items on line in a jiffy. Take a photo post a description and price and off you go! Money in the pocket and more space.

These are only a few of the apps that I love to use and that work for me, but of course another that is essential for us girls is a weather app so that we know what to wear whether it rains or shines.

According to Dorothy Thompson, “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

Put the fear to use apps behind you, most of them will only enhance your productivity and enjoyment of your digital devices.