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Great Apps to Keep You and Your Clients Organized and Stress-Free in 2013

get-organized

“If you’re appropriately engaged with your life, you don’t need more time.

If you’re not, more time won’t help.” –David Allen

 (Named as one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders” by Leadership Magazine)

 It’s almost year end with reports due, performance reviews, client surveys and organization seems to disappear with chaos in its place.

Use some of the apps listed below to provide structure, create order out of chaos and reduce daily stress in your office and personal life. Share these tips with your team, your clients, friends and family. They will thank you for it!

My overall favorite organizational app is Get it Done. David Allen, productivity consultant, introduced the Getting Things Done (GTD) method in his 2002 book Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity. The Get it Done app focuses on the creation of a workflow process, tracking, storing and monitoring of tasks. This ranks as my favorite app but comes at a small price, $39/year. Considering the time I save and the relief of not worrying about things falling through the cracks, it is well worth the money. Get It Done is a task manager for your web browser and your smart phone. Tasks are always in sync.

 Here are some other favorites used by advisors – don’t forget to share with

 your clients, your team and your family!

Calendars

ical

For calendars, I use iCal with iCloud. It works great because it will sync to all of my devices and I can share calendars with other iCloud users. Create an office calendar the entire team can access. If someone adds or edits the calendar, it will sync to all devices. Ical also allows notification of upcoming events either on screen, by e-mail or SMS.

Google Calendar

For Google lovers, this calendar allows you the ability to track business and personal events in one place. The added bonus – you can share calendars with family or co-workers and access calendars from your mobile device with its built-in calendar or mobile browser. You can also set up reminders via email or have text messages sent right to your mobile phone. Google Apps for Business is available for $50/user/per year.

To-Do Lists

Cozi

I like the free Cozi app for iphone, ipad, and Android. It keeps everyone on the same page by allowing you to add recurring activities, appointments and events to a calendar that can be used by your family or the team at your office. You can also send messages to your spouse, kids or co-workers and make and share shopping lists. Cozi has a calendar that will support automatic syncs with Microsoft Outlook. Mac users will need to have Mobile Me to sync iCal and Cozi. I love the calendar feature which offers monthly and three-day views.

Workflowy

Workflowy is a free organizational tool organizing office and personal to-dos. You also have the ability to collaborate on team projects, take notes, write research papers or keep a journal. Workflowy is available for all of your mobile devices.

Remember The Milk

This is a simple (and free) “to-do” list and available on your iphone. You can add, manage and set due dates for your tasks as well as incorporate the map feature to locate where your tasks will take place.(ex: gas station)

Astrid

This is a great app for a beginner “to-doer” or for someone who just likes to keep things simple. This free web app comes with pre-set lists that are easy to click on and fill out. Manage your list online via the app and automatically sync between your desktop and mobile devices. Astrid will also automatically sync with Google Tasks and calendars such as iCal. You can also share or assign tasks.

reQall

reQall is one of the favorites among advisors and myself. This app makes a to-do list easy by telling your smartphone what you want to remember.  I love this!! You can also e-mail, text, IM or call reQall with information. Each morning you will have a summary alerting you of what lies ahead in the day. It gets even better, if you let reQall know where you need to pick something up, it will remind you when you drive by! reQall also offers integration with your calendar via iCal and aggregates important data from various web services you are already using. There is a free version and a pro version available for purchase.  Check this one out, there’s so much more!

Brainstorming Tools

MindMeister.com

Advisors like this free web-based collaborative mind mapping app for collaborating and project management. Teams can brainstorm, discuss ideas (timelines, designs, marketing, etc) type them in the app and MindMeister will turn the idea into a visual map. Teams can share and start thinking sessions easily by inviting users via email or sending a unique and secure direct link. Color-coded effects will highlight changes by other users and the integrated live chat will let you exchange thoughts with peers directly. MindMeister is also available for mobile devices  iphone, ipad and Android.

The Brain

Another free popular app for team collaboration is The Brain. With this app, write notes, save files, web pages, images and emails for instant access on your desktop, web browser or mobile device. It is easy to find a file in seconds and gives you the big picture by bringing your ideas and information together. The Brain also uses visualization to discover information that may normally be overlooked. Keep your data local and have a backup online for remote access and sharing with other team members.

Capture Tools

Evernote/Evernote Business

Evernote seems to be the most popular choice of the advisors we researched. Evernote is a free app that works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device. It allows you to keep track of nearly everything; from what you find interesting, research for your next vacation and store all of your favorite websites. Search capabilities are easy through your library or groups of items related to a particular topic. You can even take pictures of your written to-do list and locate it through search and tags. Evernote will keep you from ever purchasing a notebook again…with Evernote, you have a notebook for everything you need!

While I’ve utilized Evernote for personal use, Evernote Business is now available. The business version is $10 per user, per month. Users of Evernote Business can discover and share ideas and research within a team to create an effortlessly productive workplace.

Streamline Your News

Zite and Pulse

These free apps help you find news feeds, blogs, newspaper articles and sites that interest you. Who has time to scroll through facebook, twitter and multiple web sites throughout the day? With these apps the news is delivered to you.

Presentations

Documents To Go

Financial advisors find this app handy to edit word, excel or other presentation documents while on the road. This a free app with a premium version available which will sync files stored in Dropbox or other cloud-based document storage services. To edit documents, you will need to purchase Docs To Go Full Version for around $30.00.

Storage

Dropbox

This application is a free service that lets you store your photos, documents and videos anywhere and share them easily. If you have files living all over the place – your office computer, home and your laptop, download Dropbox now to sync all of these files! With Dropbox you will avoid having to ever email yourself or team member another document!  The application makes it easy for advisors to view files on a smartphone, iPad, PC or Mac. Dropbox allows you to share documents with someone who does not use Dropbox via a link. I love the idea of never having to send another email with a document attached! The application is password protected and free with 2GB of storage. You can upgrade (with a fee) to 100GB of storage for heavy users.

Conference/Video Calls

Freeconferencecall.com 

Need to meet with a long-distance client, attend a meeting while out of the office or bring virtual employees together? Free Conference Call is exactly what you need. Free conference calls are simple and easy to use, requiring only a name and an e-mail address to open an account. Once you enter your name and e-mail address, you will be instantaneously provided with a dial-in number and access code for immediate phone conferencing. Your teleconferencing line is available to you 24/7 and there is no need to schedule or make reservations.

Free Conference Call is just like its name….free! Screen sharing for online meetings is available for $19.95 a month, up to 50 participants with instant online meetings.

Skype

Simple Skype! I use this religiously almost every week. With two users you can access screen sharing. It’s hard to beat a free communications network.   Enough said.

Fuze Box

This one comes with a price at $69 a month with a discount if you purchase an annual subscription. This solution will allow you to meet with long-distance clients and employees plus add presentations, word or PDF documents, movies and images. It is free for ipad and Android devices.

Money Management

Pageonce

If you’re looking for a true mobile wallet, Pageonce securely stores all your cards, reminds you when to pay bills and supports bill payments for $0.30 per transaction. If money management stresses you out, Pageonce makes it much easier.

Nest Egg Estimator

Nest Egg Estimator has been rated as one of the Top-10 Financial Planning must have apps! This app will project finances and allows you to try different scenarios for financial planning, retirement planning and more.

Conclusion

Take control of your time and your life. The skills you apply will ensure you are productive and accomplish your goals. The applications will aide you in prioritizing and organizing daily demands. Choose the applications that work best for you and fit your lifestyle and your firm.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

Let us know what apps you use in your firm!

Which ones work the best and which ones aren’t all that?

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Put Time On Your Side, Not Your Back!

Time management has become a topic of concern for many of the advisory firms that Ironstone works with. How do we control the amount of time we spend each day on needed and unneeded tasks while the world around us continually adds new means of technology, greater resources for us to utilize, and an endless supply of emails, tweets, blogs and messages?

In our last Time Management Blog, “ Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management,”      https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/learn-common-mistakes-you-your-team-may-be-making-in-time-management-7/ we touched on the wasted efforts of multi-tasking. It still holds true today, that we must redirect our focus into single-tasking. If you are a multi-tasker, you will need to develop your own personal plan to switch from doing useless tasks (often involved in multi-tasking) to executing a strategy that ensures you remain single focused.

Ways You Can Change Improve Your Time Management Skills
List Three Top Priorities: Review your task list for the week. Choose three top priority tasks for each workday. This will allow you to hone in on the tasks that are priority items rather than randomly performing secondary tasks.

Scheduling: Block out fifteen minutes each day for planning. During this time, choose your top three priority items so that you can focus on those items at the beginning of each day. Schedule certain times every day for things like emails, phone calls, meetings, etc. Do not allow a fluctuation in this designated time.

Identify your time-wasters: Track what you do on a daily basis for several days. This will allow you to find where you are losing time. Time is valuable, we just need to know how to control and separate what is important at any given moment. By identifying your time-wasters, you can get rid of them.

Change your habits: Make a dedicated promise to yourself to change those things that are your biggest time-wasters. Write out your plan and follow it. Review it briefly each day to see how you did and what areas you can improve on.
Have good reasons to save time and reward yourself: If you make changes to improve your time management, reward yourself. Your reward will motivate you to make changes.

Get Rid Of Interruptions: If interruptions are a big waste of time in your day, find ways to get rid of them. Turn electronics off, disconnect from the internet or try closing your email. (*Tip: add a disclosure on your email indicating how often you check and respond to email.) You will be surprised at how quickly others respect your response. You can live without these interruptions and will be amazed at how much more efficient and productive you become.

Know your key times: Identify specific times of the day when you have the most energy. Align your priority tasks with those times.

Batch Your “To Do List”: We love this idea at Ironstone! Maintaining your to-do list and scheduling specific, allotted time during the day, will help you keep the list manageable and reduce stress. During the allotted time, complete as many of those tasks as possible.

Technology can be used to your advantage in saving time, but make an effort to beat technology time-wasters. If a lot of your time is spent online, surfing websites for the latest content and news, take advantage of having that information pushed directly to you by using RSS or “Really Simple Syndication.”

  • RSS is a great tool that you can use to aggregate news into one convenient location. Ironstone recommends setting up your own personalized page on My MSN, My Yahoo, Google or any of your other favorites.  On a regular basis, your RSS reader will automatically check your selected websites and will deliver the content to you in one convenient display. Watch the RSS video at http://www.efficient-advisor.com/tools-tips to learn how to set up an RSS reader.

Relocate: If you are receiving walk-in interruptions, phone calls, instant messages or even need to rejuvenate your energy levels, consider relocating to a place that will lift your mood and where you can be completely free of interruptions. A conference room, a library, a home office, etc., can aide you in completing tasks on-time in a fresh environment.

Taking Time To Make Time

Take control of your time management – the advantages will drastically improve the quality of your everyday life. When you feel that everything has to be done at once, levels of frustration increase. Don’t forget to celebrate! Time management is not an easy task. If it were, there would not be a significant amount of self help, customized training, checklists, and performance reviews regarding the subject. You owe it to yourself to pat yourself on the back if no one else does. Consider your new management skills a victory and own them! After all, you succeeded!

Take time and reap the benefits of time management.

Ironstone can assist you in improving the time management skills of you and your team.  Check out our Time Management Tool!– (TimeManagementTool)  We specialize in identifying problem areas and then implementing the strategies needed to align with the goals of your firm. Firms with time management programs in place have lower stress levels, peace of mind, a higher sense of achievement, increased energy and productivity and a healthy cultural work environment.

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