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I have a slight addiction to downloading and trying out new apps. Well… at least, I used to. I’m better now, because over time and after much trial and error, I found tools that I clicked with and that genuinely helped me be more organised and efficient. Let’s just say I used to hang out in the Productivity section of the App Store quite a lot, hunting for the perfect tools that would help me stay on top of my to-do list. So today I thought I’d share four apps that I couldn’t go without and that I use pretty much every day! 🙂

Spike

Here’s a secret: emails make me anxious. Really, really anxious. I don’t know why, I can’t remember when it started, but I am absolutely awful at emailing, to the point where I’ll procrastinate, then feel terribly guilty, which then leads to more procrastination… It’s an endless, vicious circle. I think part of it is a cultural thing — us French folks like to be extra formal in any kind of business communication, so when I first moved to the UK I had to unlearn a lot of deeply rooted mechanisms. It’s become a running joke between my husband and I — every time he catches me writing an email, he’ll read over my shoulder and remind me to sign whatever I’m writing with “Yours sincerely, kind regaaaaards”… And then, part of it is simply due to me being me and Overthinking Every Word because I want to come across as professional, and friendly, and like I know what I’m doing, and conveying enthusiasm without sounding like a manic… You get the idea.

Enters Spike, an email client that makes your email threads look like text messages. It does a lot more than this — notes & tasks, group chats, managing your calendar events, even filtering incoming emails by their priority. Honestly, while all these features are pretty nifty, especially if you work in a team, I mainly use Spike because of the way it looks. Seeing my emails displayed as text/instant messages has been strangely freeing, and I’ve been able to communicate loads better since I started using the app. I no longer worry about sounding too formal — or not formal enough — or coming across a certain way, I just get on with it with a lot less stress.

Station

While we’re talking about communication… Do you sometimes feel completely overwhelmed by how many communication channels you’ve got to maintain? Not only do all these different services constantly bombard you with notifications and compete for your attention, they also require you to pick up your phone to deal with them. How often do you start replying to a message, then get distracted by one thing or another that pops up on your screen, and somehow 45 minutes later you realise you’ve been watching videos on Facebook this whole time and didn’t even send that text you were writing in the first place? … Yeah, me too!

The people behind Station describe their app as the “one app to rule them all” and a “single place for all of your web applications.” It’s not just built for communication — there are more than 670 web-based services available in Station: Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack, Discord, Reddit, Office 365… Pretty much everything you can hope for. Think of it as a kind of super-browser where every app gets stored in a tab.

Personally, I mostly use it so that I can reply to messages on my computer, across various platforms, with as little distraction as possible. This includes the messages that come through my Facebook pages & my personal account, DMs & comments on Instagram, WhatsApp messages, Telegram, and emails. I also use it for Trello, Google Drive, Microsoft Office (I no longer have Word, Excel and Powerpoint installed on my computers — I only use the web versions these days), as well as my CRM system, Studio Ninja. Having everything centralised in one place and being able to quickly switch between them honestly saves me so much time, and now that I’ve been using it for some time, I couldn’t imagine my workflow without Station.

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Trello

Does Trello really need any introduction? In simple terms, Trello helps you organise and manage tasks, lists, projects and more. A Trello board is made of lists, in which you can create, drag, drop, and reorder cards. You can then add due dates, labels, checklists and comments to each card, as well as a lot more nifty features through what they call “power-ups”.

Although I’m a visual thinker, which theoretically makes Trello the perfect tool for me, it took me a while to work out how to best use it and set it up so that it really worked for what I needed. Nowadays I use it to keep track of projects and client work and things I need to do, but mostly, I use it to plan my content, and that’s where I feel it’s really making a difference in my day-to-day business.

I’ve got about 7 boards in Trello, but there are really 2 that I use pretty much every day: my Content Planner, and a board that I’ve called “Listography”.

There are several lists in my Content Planner, the most important being my Social Media Weekly, my 3 blog categories, and my newsletter. At the start of every week, I set up some time aside to plan my social media content — photos, captions, hashtags — and put everything in the cards relevant to what days I want to post on. The top card, Hashtags, is basically a list of all the hashtags I use on Instagram organised by topics/audience — music photography, personal branding photography, creative entrepreneurs, soulful businesses, etc. Once every few months, I go over the list and do some research to add or remove hashtags so that I keep using tags that are relevant to my business and that aren’t under or overpopulated. The other lists are basically all ideas for content that I can dump in, organise and develop whenever I need to.

My other board, Listography, is essentially one big brain dump. The first list is called Task Archive, and that’s where everything goes in by default: to do’s, content ideas, things I want to look up, people I need to contact… Everything. I’ve set up a shortcut on my phone so that all I have to do is tap a button for a text box to open. I then type in whatever idea I’ve just had, and it gets automatically saved as a card in that list. I don’t even have to open the Trello app at all. Then I regularly reorganise things from there, either by moving them to another list on the board, or to another board altogether.

From my experience, there are two types of people: those who swear by Trello and couldn’t live without it, and those for whom it never really quite worked. It’s a powerful tool that can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming at first, but it’s such a big part of my workflow that I couldn’t not mention it here.

Calendly

Remember how I said emails used to make me anxious? A good part of that was due to all the going back and forth to arrange phone calls or meetings. Calendly solved that problem for me, as it connects to my calendar and shows people when I’m available for a call. You can set up the duration of each event, the date range, and your working hours and days off. It automatically checks for conflicts to avoid double booking, and adds new events to your calendar as people complete their booking. I have a soft spot for clever automation, and Calendly really saves quite a lot of time and energy!


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