3 great apps for organisation and efficiency
When I purchased my first iPhone a few years ago, so too began a love affair with the App Store. I’ve had apps for everything imaginable – some of them have stuck and I still use on the daily. Some were fun for a while before fading out of regular use, while others didn’t last longer than the first look before they got the wiggly delete treatment.
In terms of staying organised, I have three apps that I use every day. This is not a paid post for any of them – I’m happy to share because I love them and genuinely think they are helpful for most households.
Tiny Scanner | Cost: Free* (or $US7.49 for Pro version)
If you’ve ever thought that scanning your paper work would be a great way to reduce clutter around your home or office, you are 100% right! And if you’ve ever thought that the investment in a scanner (let alone the need to house a big bulky piece of equipment) made this unrealistic, you are not alone. Guess what? There’s an app for that!
What it does:
Tiny Scanner is a powerful tool that gives you access to a scanner without the need for large and expensive equipment. It uses the camera on your phone to take a photo of your paperwork; once scanned, you have the option to lighten/darken the scanned content before it converts the image to a PDF. It can scan single or multiple pages, then email the document to you or save it to a range of cloud-based file storage solutions (Dropbox etc).
How I use it:
If I open a mail item or am given a document that I need to keep, I scan it immediately then recycle or shred the paper before it has a chance to pile up. I then email it to myself and electronically file it in the appropriate folder. If I needed to fill in a form for some reason, I scan the completed paperwork, email it to myself and then recycle or shred the paper immediately.
Photos | Cost: Free*
The Photos app comes installed with iPhones, and it is so useful. Most people use Photos for storing their photos (there is no way to write that without sounding a bit obvious!) but the power of the app goes beyond simply archiving memories. I won’t get into the editing side of things as that's not my bag, baby – let’s go straight to the Albums section of the app.
What it does:
Photos automatically creates folders to help you categorise your photos and calls them Albums. If you go into the Albums section of your Photos app, you’ll see “Camera Roll”, the default album where all of your photos are stored, uncategorised. There is another default folder called “Favourites”; when you are viewing a photo in the app, you will notice a little heart in the bottom middle of the screen. Tapping that photo adds it to the Favourites album. Some of the other apps you use may automatically create an Album (for example, I have just discovered an Instagram folder I didn’t know existed) in which to store the photos you use with the app. In the top left there is also a + sign, where you can create your own Albums.
How I use it:
When I have information I know I will need to access frequently, or that forms part of a story that will have a beginning and an end, I take a photo of it and file it in an album. For example, when we were doing renovations I created a folder, called it “House” and stored everything related to our renovations in that album. Now I have an excellent snapshot of our renovations – before, during and after completion. In my Favourites folder, I store things I know I'll need to refer to in the future. I might see a recipe I like the look of - I take a photo, give it a heart and then I can find it easily in my Favourites folder. Same for if I'm browsing the internet and see something I need to refer to - I screen grab (hold the off button and tap the home button), then can pull it out later without needing to use my data while out and about.
This method is most powerful if you categorise and file as you go. You can of course do it at any time, but if you take a large number of photos with your phone, you will find it frustrating and distracting to wade through the photos and categorise later. And of course - delete the things from your favourites folder when you no longer need them.
Sortly | Cost: Free* (or US$3.99 p/month)
Remember when I said on my Household Services page that I'm not a minimalist? Ne'er a truer word were spoken than when it comes to my crafts. I especially love sewing, but the nature of this hobby is that it takes up a lot of space, and there is a bit of admin required to prevent your stash (yep that's a legit term in the crafting world, Google it!) spiralling out of control. I use Sortly to help me keep on top of things, and to stop me purchasing something I already own. Because there is nothing worse than shelling out for something, only to get home and find it's pristine, untouched twin winking at you from the closet. While I use Sortly for my craft equipment, this would be helpful for anyone who maintains a collection of any sort.
What it does:
Sortly is a powerful app that is excellent for maintaining collections. It allows you to add photos, notes, tags, folders, subfolders and more so you can completely customise how Sortly treats your collections. It is very easy and intuitive to use.
How I use it:
Before I started using Sortly, I had to put my physical collections - in this example, my sewing patterns and my fabrics - into a storage system that works for me. That is a huge blog post in itself, so trust me when I say it is beautifully organised. In Sortly, I created a folder called Sewing Patterns and then created an Item for every one of my sewing patterns. I photographed each pattern with my phone's camera, then gave each Item in Sortly a Tag (skirt, dress, top, etc) so I can easily find what I'm looking for. Now, when I'm out and about and unexpectedly get the urge to buy some fabric (it happens!), not only can I find a pattern to use that I already own, but I have the information on hand about what type of fabric to buy, and how much I need for that particular project.
I get that sewing patterns and fabric is a pretty specific use of Sortly. Other possible uses I've considered are:
- House plants - take a pic of the little card that comes with a new house plant, take a pic of the plant (and the pot) and voila! You have a catalogue of your house plants and exactly how to care for them.
- Recipes - if you have a cookbook that has just a few favourite recipes, why not consider donating the cookbook to a charity store, and instead keep those favourites in a recipe folder in Sortly? No need to photocopy pages and buy a folder - just store them in Sortly and enjoy the extra shelf space!
- Books - book lovers rejoice! You could use Sortly to maintain your personal library. Use the Notes feature to store your thoughts once you have finished a novel, and even better - there is a feature in Sortly that allows you to keep track of items you have loaned to someone else!
If you like the sound of the apps above, why not give one of them a try? If you'd like help to get up and running, please get in touch - I am an expert at setting up digital filing systems, and you *know* I would be all over setting up your collection in Sortly ;-)