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 In Ask Our Gurus

It’s spring finally! The flowers are starting to pop up. It’s also time for many of us to begin the annual process of spring cleaning.

Why not do the same with your business information? Today I’m going to showcase four free tools (and one low cost tool) that I use daily to help me manage the information, to dos and obligations I have to my family, friends, businesses, organizations and myself.

When my eldest son was born, I knew I had to make some changes in my life and become more efficient if I wanted to have some semblance of a sane life. I also knew I needed to have access to information anywhere – home, the office, or on the road.

I’ve been continually tweaking my personal productivity workflow over the years.Here are the tools I use as of April 2014.

1. Evernote

http://www.evernote.com
Cost: Free or $45/year.
I use it on: iPad, iPhone, Desktop

This is one of my favourite tools. Evernote is my digital filing cabinet: I use it for both personal and business information. I scan and store almost anything worth keeping for future reference. One of the best things about Evernote is that I can have access to my information anywhere – and for someone forgetful like me, it’s a life saver.

2. Google Drive / Docs

http://docs.google.com
Cost: 15 GB for Free or get 100GB from $24/year.
I use it on: iPad, iPhone, Desktop

This tool could technically be considered a storage tool like Evernote, but I prefer to use it for managing my documents. The great thing about it is that I can create new Google Docs for simple documents I want to share. I can also set up a virtual drive and save any file I want, allowing me to work as efficiently at home as I do in the office. If I have a few minutes I can even start a new blog post from my iPhone!

3. Pocket

http://getpocket.com/
Cost: Free
I use it on: iPad, iPhone, Desktop, Email

Pocket is my favourite time saving tool. I am naturally a very curious person and love to learn. That’s not always compatible with trying to keep a schedule. Pocket allows me to quickly save and even tag any article for future reading.

The best thing about it is that it strips all of the other navigation elements from the page, so it is all about the content. Then, when I have time at night or when I am waiting for a meeting, I always have some interesting content to read on my iPad or iPhone.

4. Toodledo

http://www.toodledo.com/
Cost: Free or $29.99 year for extra storage
I use it on: iPad, iPhone, Desktop, Email

There are ton of to do systems on the market. I’ve probably tried half of them. This simple tool is my favourite and I have been using it daily for the past five years.

The most powerful part of this tool is its flexibility: you can customize it to your unique way of working. If dates or recording the amount of time it takes to do tasks is important, you can do that. If organizing tasks by context, priority, tags and/or folders is important, the tool supports that too. I am a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done personal productivity system and I’ve customized the tool to allow me to follow his methodology as closely as possible.

5. Bonus Tool: Noteshelf for iPad

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/noteshelf-notes-pdf/id392188745?mt=8
Cost: $5.99
I use it on: iPad

I bring my iPad and stylus to every meeting and I’m often asked what tool I use for taking notes. The one that has worked best for me is Noteshelf.

This tool allows you to create multiple notebooks and password-protect them. You can also choose different paper styles or create your own templates. Lastly, if you want to export notes or email them to a colleague or client, it supports the ability to export to PDF or JPEG. The only thing this doesn’t do is character recognition of your handwritten notes. I’ve tried a few tools that do, and personally I am not a big fan of any of them.

Are you in the construction field? Here are 5 apps that might help you get more done.

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