With a New Year come the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions. As everybody knows, these resolutions are hard to keep, that’s why we only try once a year. But here at Edgar and Edgar CPAs, we think a little technology can help you stick to your New Year’s Resolutions and help you achieve your ultimate goals.
Productivity – Whether your goal is to attain inbox zero, knock out the to-do list, or just get more organized, these apps (I’ll refer to these recommendations as apps, even though you can access all these products through a browser) can help you increase your productivity at home, in the office, or wherever you might be.
Evernote – One of the most advanced note taking apps out there, Evernote allows you to make notes in almost every way conceivable. You can create notes by typing these notes in the app, taking a picture of something you want to remember, record a voice note, clip a webpage from the internet, or even send e-mails directly to Evernote; in fact, you can attach almost any file to a note. The power of Evernote lies in three main features. First, by using the cloud, your notes sync between all devices. Record a note on your phone, it’s available on your tablet and computer. Cloud syncing means you always have access to that important information. Second, Evernote has an incredibly powerful and advanced search function. The search function is so advanced it will even search handwritten and attached documents. Finally, Evernote’s organizational structure is very helpful in organizing all the information you save. Notes are organized into Notebooks (think file folders) and can contain almost unlimited tags (think of a tag as a keyword you might write on a sticky note attach to a document). Evernote’s motto is “Remember Everything”, which is a pretty attractive proposition when trying to organize all the information in your life.
Asana – Asana is a multi-user project management app (again, it has an app for your phone and is also used through a web browser) that Edgar and Edgar CPAs uses daily. With Asana, you organize your to-do list into projects with tasks, and sub-tasks, and sub-sub-tasks, and… well you get the idea. As you complete tasks you check them off and they rewardingly disappear from your task list (don’t worry, you can display completed tasks, so they aren’t gone forever). Tasks and projects can be assigned to different users. In addition, you can stay on schedule by adding due dates and times to each task. Each task also has a really cool chat section where users can post and reply to comments specific to that task. Think Facebook, but it increases your productivity, not destroys it. Much like Evernote, Asana has great search tool that helps you find information within the app.
Slack – Is your inbox full of conversation related e-mails? Most people are familiar with the situation: Joe sends an e-mail to Sue and Bob asking them about the status on project XYZ. Sue and Bob both ‘Reply to all’. Joe then ‘Replies to all’ to both Sue and Bob’s e-mails and the e-mails begin to fly. Much of e-mail traffic is just this, simple conversations and back-and-forth communications. Frankly, we got tired of our e-mail inboxes being jammed up with conversations here at Edgar and Edgar, so we looked for a different solution. We found that solution in Slack. Slack is a multi-user platform that allows users to communicate directly with each other, or create private channels only for certain users. In addition, you can attach documents and link Slack to a variety of other apps. Slack is similar to text messaging, but much more powerful.
For instance, take our example of Joe, Sue, and Bob. Instead of dozens of e-mails flying around, Joe, Sue, and Bob are all using Slack and all are assigned to the ‘XYZ Channel’. Joe posts a message to the ‘XYZ Channel’ and both Sue and Bob are notified of the message. Sue and Bob post their replies, which Joe sees and replies to. No e-mails and all the conversation is in one single, linear, chain. Later, Joe wants to privately follow up with Bob about something, so he sends Bob a direct message. No e-mails were exchanged, a searchable record of the conversation is kept in Slack, and Joe, Sue, and Bob are a little more productive and happy.
Health and Fitness – Life isn’t just about work, nor are resolutions. After the gluttony and frenetic pace of the holidays, people tend to focus energy on their well-being. Whether you are looking to drop a few pounds, sharpen your mental abilities, or get your head on straight, these apps offer some technological assistance on your journey.
MyFitnessPal – Famed Management guru Peter Drucker is often credited with the saying, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” MyFitnessPal takes this notion and applies it to dieting and healthy eating. With MyFitnessPal app, you input your goals, current measurements and weight, and desired weight and the software comes up with a daily caloric – as well as protein, carbohydrate, and fat – intake goal. Then, as you eat, you enter your foods into MyFitnessPal, which, through its huge database of nutritional data, knows how many calories you’ve consumed. MyFitnessPal tracks that data and compares it to your goals. In addition to food, you also update your weight and measurements so you can track your progress. The huge database of food, coupled with cool features like the ability to build recipes and copy meals from other periods, make MyFitnessPal an easy and convenient tool for losing weight.
Elevate – As we age, most people experience some memory loss or dulling of their cognitive abilities. While fitness and physical exercise help maintain cognitive abilities, so do mental exercises. Elevate is an app for iPhone and Android and contains a plethora of exercises designed to protect and enhance skills related to memory, writing, reading and comprehension, mathematics, word usage, speaking, and more. Users begin with a series of exercises designed to assess one’s current abilities. After this initial assessment, users are given a series of games each day to complete. Users can complete additional games for fun and practice. Progress is tracked based on score and relative to other users (a little competition goes a long way). The games are designed to be fun while increasing your mental abilities.
Headspace – Life in the modern world can be difficult on one’s mental health. With non-stop information flow and always-on and connected devices, the torrent of information can be overwhelming to a person’s ability to focus and deal with stress. Mindfulness and meditation has emerged as an answer to the firehose of information and stress. Headspace is an app designed to help both beginning and experienced mindfulness practitioners disengage their brain and deal with life in the 21st Century. New users will begin using Headspace with mindfulness practices that take between 10 and 20 minutes. These exercises are designed to introduce the basic techniques of mindfulness and meditation. After completing the program of basic exercises, users can select specially designed “packs” that address concerns, such as stress, focus, creativity, health and wellness, etc. As modern life becomes more complex and stressful, the need for a tool like Headspace becomes more critical.
Keeping those New Year’s resolutions can be hard. But with the use of technology, maybe that perfect life is a little closer than you imagined.