As I took down yet another printable calendar from the fridge, I joked that the first year of our marriage had been all about systems. My husband and I have tried so many different things to help us merge our lives–and, most of all, our to-do lists.
We tried multiple methods:
- an app to hold us accountable to different household chores
- putting our to-do list and accompanying checkboxes on the kitchen chalkboard
- holding a monthly budget meeting
- and of course many a paper calendar on the fridge (oh how I wanted that to work!).
Some systems stuck, such as the budget meeting. Some fluttered to the floor never to be picked up again, like the calendar(s).
In the long run, I ended up streamlining a lot of my life as a result. I guess there’s just something about doing life with another person that made me take a long look at all the different processes I had acquired as a single adult. Which ones were still working for me in this new stage of marriage and growing a business?
If you find yourself in a similar streamlining season or you just generally want to be more productive, I hope you find helpful the following list of top productivity apps. In no particular order, I share below the ones my husband and I tried on for size!
Digital Task Management Systems
Oh, Asana, I tried so hard to like you. Twice. I enjoy the pretty interface, all the features, and the fact that Asana allows me to share projects with friends. But I fear the complicated notification settings ended up clogging my inbox, and there is little I detest more than a clogged inbox. So I was sorta prejudiced against Asana from then on. Asana ended up having more features than I truly needed. I think this tool would be fantastic were it just a bit more user-friendly for the non-techies among us.
While I really love the simplicity of Trello and the fact that I can share boards with friends, I’m afraid I had already stumbled upon my top productivity app just as a friend invited me onto Trello. So as much as I appreciate the fact that Trello looks like my favorite things: post-it notes, I just haven’t gotten that into it. But it seems (much) simpler than Asana and great for keeping track of tasks and group projects.
Okay, I confess, I love Google Keep. This post may have been birthed out of the idea of needing to review it and share it with you. Much more efficient than the Notes app on your phone but just as simple, Google Keep allows you to share notes with friends and syncs across all my devices. I started using it because my husband is a huge Google Keep user. So it made sense to share mutual to-do lists (containing everything from pay-the-dentist-bill to change-the-license-plate-sticker) on this app. I adore the fact that I can label and even color-code notes.
This is definitely the top productivity app I recommend to all blogger, entrepreneur, and writer friends. Google Keep especially works well in inter-OS marriages: I’m an Apple/Mac girl, and my husband is Android all the way, but we can both collaborate comfortably inside Google Keep.
I am a Todoist junkie. The fact that I can create labels for different projects and “hide” tasks beneath those labels until I’m ready to take them on is second-to-none. So, now I use Google Keep almost exclusively for all things I need to share notes with my husband, and I’m inside Todoist for purely freelancing projects. Simple, user-friendly, and streamlined, Todoist also makes creating recurring tasks super-easy.
Evernote seems to be THE top productivity app for a lot of people in my circles. It syncs, it’s layered, and it makes going digital to get rid of all those paper piles a breeze. Don’t believe me? Just ask Kalyn Brooke, who has created a great guide on how to use Evernote. Personally, I just couldn’t get into Evernote. It seems to do more than I need it to (which sounds silly, I know!), so maybe I’ll become more of a die-hard fan later in life. For now, I love the simplicity of other apps on this list, and that’s okay.
Why? Because this isn’t is a list designed to make you use all these top productivity apps and feel guilty if you don’t. I’m sharing what I love and don’t love about each item on this list to help you find what works for you.
Finance Management Systems
I know, I know, a budgeting app doesn’t seem to fit inside this list of top productivity tools. But, really, what feels more productive than a freshly balanced budget? How about a budget that balances itself?
I’ve been using EveryDollar for years, and it has met my every budgeting need. Created by the people at Dave Ramsey, this user-friendly app syncs from my phone to my laptop to my husband’s phone and employs the envelope system in a way that doesn’t require me to carry cash (score!). I also love that I can “recycle” last month’s budget to create this month’s budget with a single click. But I still retain all the records from the years I’ve been using it.
Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now, but seriously, you should check out this app, create a budget, and put your money to work for you (instead of the other way around).
Other Accounting Software Options
Of course, more robust accounting software can potentially help you organize your business and save you time to focus on what matters most. While I’m not personally a user, I’ve heard that QuickBooks accounting tools has a wide variety of services. My friend Gretchen loves QuickBooks Online. To name a few others, there’s FreshBooks, Xero, Wave Accounting, etc. I hope you find the one that suits your needs the best!
You may have already guessed where I’m going with this, especially if you know me in real life or you have read my recent post about why I broke up with my bullet journal. I love the idea of my bullet journal more than I enjoyed keeping up with it. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!
The bullet journal won’t enable you to sync or share, of course, but it does allow you absolute freedom. You can track whatever you want, keep any and all lists you need, and most importantly have it all in one organized place. I still use my bullet journal for some things, but I rely on the next app to organize my life’s rhythms:
Google Calendar + Reminders
Even before I got married, I used Google calendar to keep track of my work schedule in recurring events and reminders to help me remember certain tasks on certain days. When was the last time I changed the air filter in our apartment? I can check my Google calendar for that. I also rely on Google calendar to allow me to share certain upcoming events like double dates and church events with my husband.
With a simple interface that I can use from my iphone or laptop, I highly recommend Google calendar to busy entrepreneurs like myself.
Perhaps life is all about finding systems that work for you and your life rhythms—and sometimes the system that works for you and your family is the clean, comfortable fridge calendar. Whatever your top productivity app, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!