Whether you work a 9-to-5 job in a brick-and-mortar building or work from home in an office seated conspicuously close to where your family is living, playing, and napping, who doesn’t want to increase their productivity and efficiency?
Here are 13 of the best apps and app-combos I find indispensable to working from home. Most of them prove equally helpful if you work elsewhere, too.
It’s not Any.Do’s fault that this app serves wives and moms as well as small business owners. (Read “There’s an App for That: Moms” at the new PJ Parenting). Plan your day, prioritize tasks, add tasks from email, share with collaborators, and sort by project folder or by deadline. After three months of trialing productivity apps such as Basecamp, Evernote, Clear, Asana, Informant, Google Tasks, NotesPlus, Wunderlist, and a handful of others, I finally found one with the simplicity and intuitiveness I expect from a digital assistant. Most importantly, it syncs with its easy-to-use desktop version
This app is one of the digital age’s greatest triumphs. Goodbye annoying voicemail-checking, which can take two minutes to retrieve a 20-second message. And adios to tedious texting when you can just say it. Voxer is a walkie-talkie app that lets you send, play, fast-play at 2x speed, and pause messages at your convenience. It’s faster than texting, and unlike an incoming phone call, it lets you choose when to conduct conversations throughout the day. Better still, you can easily add and drop people to your conversations, so no more cumbersome three-way calls. Plus, this app reduces lengthy interruptions at your home office. My wife’s and my handful of “voxes” throughout the day (rather than in-person interactions) help us reinforce for our kids that Daddy isn’t really “home” until after six p.m.
3. Google Keep
When I need to add more than a task but less than a document, this low-key, cloud-syncing app keeps my musings, lists, photos, and audio machinations safe and organized until I can give them my full attention.
4. Wave Receipts
I do my home business accounting through the web-based Wave, so when I’m out and about, I immediately scan my receipts with the app “Wave Receipts.” However you handle your accounting, get yourself a reliable app for tracking on-the-go purchases.
5. Smart Voice Recorder
You cannot recreate a meeting—so record it. Whether you’re interviewing a client to learn how to serve their needs, brainstorming with your colleagues, or making a presentation you may want to reference later, a large-capacity, sharable audio recorder helps you focus more on the people in front of you than on your notes.
6. Google Drive + Docs + Sheets
I’d be dead in the water without the ability to draft, edit, store, access, and share ideas and documents when a project suddenly arises that a client or collaborator needs, well, yesterday. Google or bust.
https://youtu.be/ha7ASaPnjbAI’ll be honest: I’ve never loved LinkedIn. Knowing how incredible Oracle is as an IT company, I’ve always been a little disappointed with its social media brainchild’s interface. But I cannot count the times it has helped me triangulate this face with that person with those details when Facebook couldn’t get it done.
Now we’re getting industry-specific, but the concept is what matters. Many folks on my contact list are people I interact with 24 hours after sending an email. By showing me who has opened, clicked, and shared certain emails, Mailchimp’s app helps me gauge before sitting down with them where to pick up our conversation and business.
9. Banking app
I have unashamedly made multiple banking decisions based on the quality of the institution’s app. Mobile check deposit is a must, but so is clarity and reliable functionality. PNC, Chase, and USAA are good contenders among many others.
Gmail users, if you haven’t switched to Google’s new Inbox app, I recommend it. This fully integrated interpretation of Gmail organizes your email beyond the “old” Inbox/Social/Promotion tabs, and treats each email as a to-do item. You don’t mark them “read,” but “done.” (This one doubles as a “Dad” app. See our PJ Parenting apps for dads.)
11. Visual Voicemail
Does anyone dial in anymore? Yes, I do, ever since I trashed my phone by jumping into the pool after my son. My new phone gets the job done, with one glitch: my visual voicemail app won’t open, and won’t debug. I never realized how convenient and efficient this app was until I had to go without it, a process so medieval that I had to Google the number for Verizon’s old-fashioned voicemail (it’s *86).
12. Mobile printing
This may depend more on your phone and printer than any app, but it’s too important to leave off. Sometimes a guy just needs to print things while he’s shaving. Do it from your phone without even opening the document or your laptop.
13. Family calendar
If you work from home, you probably have your calendar apps figured out—but go the extra step to put not only work, but personal and family events, on a shared, cloud-based calendar. Head over to the new PJ Parenting to read “Use Your Shared, Cloud-Based Calendar to Improve Your Marriage and Family.”
Your turn. For the good of the group: what apps do you lean on for your home business?