5 apps to keep New Year’s resolutions on track

pomodoro timer

The dust is just starting to settle on those well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions. Book reading lists have commenced (thanks for the lovely Amazon gift card, Secret Santa!). More parking spaces have opened up at the gym, with more to come by the end of the month. Despite our best Pinterest motivation boards, even inspirational memes have lost their glittery “New Year” luster.

Resolutions to get organized, be more productive, or maybe even work less(?) are more difficult to keep without engaging — and measurable — accountability.

Why not enlist some new apps to hold yourself to task with both personal and professional goals throughout the year?

Chances are, you comprise the two-thirds of Americans who are already smartphone users, and you or someone in your family probably even received a new smartphone — or other technological device such as a computer, tablet or wearable device — for the holidays. Put your tech toys to good use, and check out these five recommended apps to keep your 2016 on track:

1) Evernote. Take notes, make to-do lists, draw doodles, delegate or share with others, organize files, then find them on any device. The ability to add images or checkboxes to any note can better organize something as simple as a grocery or ingredient list you made a photo of before you left the house. Recent app updates include an audio note / dictation feature for even easier use.

2) Dropbox. I am hard-pressed to think of an organization I’ve been involved with that doesn’t use Dropbox to store and share large files or documents. It’s shaping up to become an industry standard in the competitive “cloud” or “repository” space for sharing multiple large documents or files. You can easily share/organize documents with clients, or photos with family — again, accessing them on any device. Alternatives such as Google Drive, iCloud and more exist, but Dropbox doesn’t get involved with the creation of multiple email addresses and logins. It therefore tends to be a bit simpler to use, no matter the industry or task. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s definitely an organizational time-saver.

3) WordBook. Whether you are a marketing professional, business owner, or an individual who simply wants to work smarter, you only have one chance to make the proverbial “first impression,” particularly when it comes to the written word — what Shift Key is all about. With quick technology at our fingertips, there is no excuse for laziness when it comes to misspelled words! Beyond your standard dictionary, this app is packed with other useful tools such as an audible pronunciation key, etymology, “words of the day” feature, Wikipedia links, arguably one of the most comprehensive thesaurus listings you’ll find, bonus “puzzle solver” tools and more.

4) Mint.com. This personal finance app allows you to set budgets, track spending across multiple accounts or credit cards, while sending alerts (customized to your comfort level of course) when you’ve gone over budget or when a bill is about to be due. It can even customize credit card offers or credit score improvement tips for your unique situation. The interface is intuitive and has colorful (dare I say pretty) pie charts and bar graphs, visible upon each login, to lessen the blow that is financial accountability! Owned by Intuit, the business version app of this is QuickBooks Online.

5) Pomodoro. If you’re like me, I could use all the help I can get in the area of time management. When I was a kid, my mother used to set the oven timer for five minutes to clean up the den, or to pick up all the dirty laundry in my room, whatever. It’s that same concept — boost focus to better manage time. This app utilizes the Pomodoro (Italian for “tomato”) Technique, or the idea that frequent breaks can increase mental agility. The app takes its name from the “pomodoro kitchen timer” that is pictured above, and utilizes similar methodology. The app sets a timed limit for a particular task (traditionally 25 minutes), chimes when you can take a short 3-5 minute break, then prompts to return to your task. Even if via some sort of Pavlovian methodology this app can actually improve productivity and focus, I have read enough good reviews to give it a try! This app would be great for writers or any freelance or creative trade where you could benefit from tracking projects — while removing temptation to endlessly “research” on Google, or go down the rabbit hole of social media — the most addictive time sucks there are.

All of these apps are free (some with in-app purchases) or no more than $1.99 each.

At Shift Key, we make communication capital. We are journalists who know how to create original content, the foundational layer of digital marketing. We understand audience and the information your audience wants — whether you are an agency, brand, company or non-profit. Content is the bedrock of digital marketing. Shift Key creates unique and informative content that feeds marketing activities across a mounting number of channels, generating buzz for brands and leads for products and services.

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