Productive apps, how I stay organised, Simply Stacey

Day to day, I not only need to be organised….I honestly love being organised. Being productive helps to motivate myself. There is honestly nothing better than ticking a task off your To Do List. When I meet my goals I do a little air punch, I am not ashamed. We all need to do more air punches in life. 

Being a working mummy I need to be super organised in all areas of my existence. Not only just for myself, but also for our family. The kids (no joke) have a better social life than me, they have so many events with nursery and school that I am like a personal assistant. Then I sometimes need to organise Antony and remind him (not nag as he would say) about tasks or dates he needs to remember. 

My job away from blogging and walking around with a camera vlogging, is on the extreme scale for staying organised. I work as a Quality and Regulatory Manager manufacturing medical devices and need to ensure all procedures are met, constantly stay up to date with standards, have a working retrievable system….the list goes on. So you might be getting an idea now that I wasn’t being dramatic. I need to be like a superhero with organisational skills who is radiating with productivity vibes. Ok maybe I was a little dramatic then, but you get the picture.

Focus on being productive instead of busy.

I am going to share with you six of my favourite apps that I am currently loving. These all help me stay on top and be productive. I tend to use certain apps for home/blogging and work, which I will cover in different posts. This is a small selection of apps, I am a sucker for a new app and use many. This list is my main ‘go to apps’ that I use constantly.

Bear App

Bear is hands down my favourite note taking app. I previously was solely using Evernote and I still do for work and longterm projects. I use Bear mainly for research and everyday notes. 


Bear took a little while to navigate, for example making folders you use a hashtag, and sub folders a forward slash. YouTube tutorials was how I learnt to use the app efficiently. 

Once you get use to the shortcuts you will find Bear is a simple app to use. For example you can change font style, add dividers, links and add bullet points. There is much more you can do with Bear to meet your needs and is well worth a download. 

Things 3 App

For my editorial and personal ‘to do list’ management system. I like the fact it is similar to the GTD (Getting Things Done) method, which is a fantastic book to read. Previously I was using Wunderlist, which for work I still use. I like to keep work and home tasks separate if possible. 

All my tasks go into the ‘Inbox’ section, from here or when doing my weekly planning I will allocate the next action steps. This can be adding to a separate folder, maybe the task isn’t urgent and for when have time. If this is the case I will add this to the ‘Anytime’ folder.

If the task needs a due date I will add this to the task itself, which then will automatically appear in the ‘Upcoming’ folder.

You can also make folders for specific projects or folders, which is helpful for planning.

Each task can be amended with checklists, due dates, notes etc. There is plenty of ways to add as much detail as you need.

I like the simplicity of Things 3, and have since downloading for my phone and iPad, I recently paid for the Mac version as I use this app daily. Things 3 is perfect for keeping me organised and letting me know the tasks for the day ahead. 

Fantastical App

The main secret for my organisational skills is Calendar Blocking. I will do a post and video about this soon as honestly it has been a life saver. Each week I plan the week ahead, for work and home. You start to realise how much time you have free in the day and the free time becomes more precious.

I am more regimental with calendar blocking during the week. Weekends I will block tasks I need to remember, or if I have a busy day ahead and want to stay organised. Orignally I was solely using Google Calendar with seperate calendar folders for various elements. For example I have an ‘Editorial’ calendar and ‘Home’ which is a couple of my many calendars. This is mainly for seeing specific entries for the calendar name. 

Fantastical is brilliant for my needs as I can link external calendars, which one is also my work calendar. Plus another addition is the fact I have the app as an element on my Apple Watch face so I know what is always happening. 

Google Calendar worked well for me, but Fantastical meets all of my needs and for me is the best calendar app I have downloaded and well worth the price. Planning your day ahead is one way to be super productive and I really recommend trying this. Make sure you keep an eye for future posts about this subject which I will show you how I make this effective for my needs.

BFT App, Bear Focus Timer, Pomodoro

Staying productive is hard when you have distractions which is mainly your phone. We all are guilty of this, you could be typing a blog post, working on an urgent project and your phone pings or you see a notification. Resisting the urge to see what indeed has come through to your phone is a hard task alone. This can then lead you breaking concentration or stopping what you are doing all together. 

One way to eliminate distractions on my phone was to remove notifications. I have minimal amounts alerting me. For any social media especially, no notifications appear. I have to physically go into the app to see if someone has tweeted or liked my recent Instagram selfie. 

To take this further I decided on a timer app on my phone. These are fantastic for stopping you using your phone. Originally my first timer was Forest, I still use this app. You decide on which tree to grow which is dependant on the length of time you wish to not check your phone. Eventually if you grow enough trees and receive coins you can plant real trees for charity which is a. nice addition. Obviously if you have a sneaky peek on your phone outside of the app and go looking to see where Maureen has tagged herself on facebook then your tree will sadly die.

Then on one of my many researching moments I came across the Pomodoro Method. For this you have 25 minute sections and in between 5 minute breaks. This really helps when on big tasks and really does work.

Bear Focus Timer (BFT) focuses using the Pomodoro Method which helps you stay productive. You can even have white noise playing if you wish, I am more of a Spotify focus playlist person to be honest on that part of. the apps features. If you use your phone the bear is not going to be happy with you and makes you put that phone back down and carry on smashing your tasks. 

Mindnode App

Brain dumping is perfect for staying productive. Emptying your thoughts helps empty your brain to concentrate on the task ahead.  Also brainstorming is a method I regularly use.

MindNode is perfect for brainstorming or having a brain dump session. I again use this app at home and work. Some examples of how I use is for content ideas, planning blog posts. Over Christmas I used MindNode to plan tasks, for example Christmas Dinner, shopping, activities. The app makes this so easy to start building a structral idea. 

MinNode is one of my more recent apps, and is now also one of my most favourite. Again I love the simplicity of the app. Not only being simple to use the app makes me super productive and creative. I have been using this more recently for work when planning a project and cannot recommend enough trying to brainstorm and seeing how much you actually start building on ideas. 

Instapaper App

Instapaper is perfect for those moments when browsing the internet and you come across a page that you simply haven’t got time to browse fully but want to read some other time. 

You can set Instapaper up for a shortcut on your phone. I simply go to share and find the app icon, also you can get a desktop extension for ease of use. 

Previously I was using screenshots but they would get lost on my phone and not convenient to find the pages I wanted to re-visit. 

Other ways I use the app is for when browsing Pinterest, I find pages from pins I have checked out and want to save this for later. 

I tend to check out pages when I schedule a research hour or weekly review. A pattern with these apps is the simplicity and aesthetically pleasing look. 

Making use of your phone apps can help enhance your productivity and staying organised to your own needs You can build your own platform of apps that help make your own life easier. 

I prefer staying organised digitally as it is so easy nowadays with the technologies available to us. On twitter the other week I was chatting about apps with a fellow blogger and I mentioned how much easier I would have found staying organised when at school and college. I mean it didn’t make a difference as these apps was not around back in my days of being a teen, I would just live by my filofax and mum being my calendar. 

However now living in this digitally minded world, I am embracing apps to make life simpler. There are so many to view and try and my main tip is find what works for you based on your own needs. Hopefully this will give you an insight on apps you may not have seen before and hopefully may help your needs.

Have you got a favourite app for being productive or staying organised?

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Are looking at improving your online presence, looking at growing your social media content and followers, encouraging to drive more traffic to your content and improving personal growth, then have you thought of the help from podcasts? Entrepreneur and Content Creator Podcasts have been extremely beneficial in helping me grow my brand in the right direction and these can also help you. If you are a budding entrepreneur or influencer then make sure you go and have a listen to my Top 5 Podcasts for growing your personal brand.

Content Creator Podcasts

One benefit of commuting an hour and a half each day to work and back home, is this gives me precious time to help motivate myself for the day ahead at work, or on the way home ready to build content for my side hustle Simply Stacey. This precious time was spent wasted from screeching through my latest playlist on Spotify, but since calendar blocking, I have found a golden nugget window of time that I can use productively to help me grow one of my passions which is my brand, Simply Stacey.

Recently I experienced my first audio book experience and surprisingly I absolutely enjoyed listening whilst commuting. I have only listened to non fiction audiobooks so far as to be honest they are the ones that I would struggle to read. I am not a big reader and whilst driving to work, I am able to complete an audiobook in a week easy which is time otherwise spent thinking of the tasks ahead, groceries needed, chores to do. This way listening and using my time of commuting to an advantage has helped open a whole new world of motivational books which has naturally led me to listen to podcasts.

One recommendation which I am currently loving is to download Castro app for podcasts. The library is much more friendly and so much easier to find your favourite podcasts, plus if you have an apple watch then this app is also compatible. Gosh I am spoiling you lot today with my knowledge bombs and amazing finds.

Podcasts For Growing Your Personal Brand

 

The podcasts app for me was always unused in my music folder. I have tried previously looking in the Podcast charts and being unable to find anything of interest. Until recently I spotted on Instagram a link to a parenting Podcast Happy Mum Happy Baby hosted by Giovanna Fletcher and loved listening to the interviews, each one perfect in time for my commuting to work. Now I have my podcasts going constantly, even Josie loves listening on the way to school run.

Merging this new find of Podcasts and my obsession of growing my personal brand, I now have a bundle of Podcasts in my library ready for me to extract information from. I am completely thriving on learning new strategies and ways to improve my personal brand and also aid my personal growth. There is so much information and experiences to listen to over Podcasts and these are free resources, hours of strategies and recommended improvements to help you grow your brand.

There are so many great interviews and free advice to use and implement into your blog or business, and these are some of my favourites so far…..just a warning some of these are old so may not be updated as often, but you can download archive episodes (beats waiting for new episodes). The moment you have been waiting for, here is my Top 5 Podcasts For Growing Your Personal Brand…

 

VLOG BOSS RADIO / Amy Landino

I absolutely love Amy TV the YouTube Channel and Amy’s best selling book Vlog Like A Boss is a must have book for all aspiring vloggers. I totally love Amy, she is such an inspiring person and is where my goals and inspiration to make the most of my brand has come from. On Amy’s channel you can find advice to go after the life you want, from organising yourself and being productive to awesome editing tips for your brand.

Episodes you need to listen too:

  • Episode 143: Get More Attention On Your Videos
  • Episode 142: How To Take Off On YouTube Featuring Pat Flynn
  • Episode 136: The Difference Between YouTube and Facebook Videos

 

VIDFLUENTIAL ON-AIR / Jessica Stansberry

Jessica is my hair twin! I found Jessica originally on her YouTube Channel, which is how I became obsessed with Trello. Jessica gives you excellent tips for you to be Video Rockstars and helps with content and digital marketing.

Episodes you need to listen too:

  • Episode 006: How To Get Found On YouTube
  • Episode 013: How To Get Comfortable On Camera
  • Episode 007: What You Need For Every Blog Post You Publish

 

THE SUNNY SHOW / Sunny Lenarduzzi

You will see a pattern emerging here….Guess where I first come across Sunny Lenarduzzi? Yes, another excellent YouTuber. Sunny is my most recent find and the style of her videos really is nothing short of amazing. The Sunny Show Podcast also does not disappoint. At the time of this post, The Sunny Show is still current so you can expect new uploads regularly.

Episodes you need to listen too:

  • #022: High Performance Habits to Build a World Class Business with Todd Herman
  • #015: Miracle Morning -Morning Motivation That Will Change You
  • #017: Rise of the Youpreneur with Chris Ducker

 

THE GOAL DIGGER PODCAST / Jenna Kutcher

I love the vast amount of topics Jenna covers in her Podcast, there is a large catalogue of episodes to choose from. The Gold Digger Podcast is a relatively new subscription for me, but I am enjoying the episodes and have found them completely motivating and easy to understand. I also love the fact there is a mixture of varied timings for the episodes, for example some are 8 minutes (perfect if clearing up after dinner) and some are 45 minutes (perfect for my commute).  At the time of this post, The Goal Digger Podcast is still current so you can expect new uploads regularly.

Episodes you need to listen too:

  • 158: Calling All Introverts: How Can You Build a Personable Brand
  • 155: How I Doubled My Instagram Growth in One Month
  • Bonus 012: 5 Ways To Boost Productivity Working From Home

 

THE INFLUENCER PODCAST / Julie Soloman

The Influencer Podcast is another new one I have started listening too, and another one of my favourites. Julie has an impressive catalogue of episodes and guests each sharing strategies to help you become your own leading influencer. Also like the above Podcast there is a varied content in which you have longer interviews with leading professionals, then there is Influencer Insights which are shorter in length and great for strategies to help you grow your personal brand. At the time of this post, The Influencer Podcast is still current so you can expect new uploads regularly.

Episodes you need to listen too:

  • 068: Everything You Need To Know About Growing A Blog
  • 002: Instagram Growth & Effective Social Media Marketing
  • Influencer Insights 011: The Influencers Guide to Productivity
Podcasts, Podcasts to grow your brand, pinterest

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I hope you enjoy listening to some of the above and I would love to know your feedback, or perhaps you have further recommendations for other Podcasts not mentioned.

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Do you have days you plan to be productive and get that stuff done, but things get in the way or even worse procrastination kicks in? Well see my Top 3 Daily Habits that are tried and tested by myself and how I make the day a success….

Whatever your situation, whether you work or stay at home, a parent or child free, like cats or dogs….we all need moments in our day to be productive. This can be something simple as being a domestic goddess and having a long list of jobs from cleaning to washing, this is still being productive.

You don’t need to be working to be productive, you can be productive any moment of any day for any task. This could be a small list of a couple of tasks or a job you have been meaning to do every day for the past month but can’t get round to it, or in my case multiples of lists.

Being a working mummy with a demanding job to stay productive and super organised, I always search for new ways to help productivity shine out of me like sunbeams. I don’t just try to be productive at work, I try to incorporate this into my life in general. I have a home to maintain, children to look after and then there is running my blog and YouTube channel which any blogger will know how much work goes into this. Updating social media, scheduling posts, being a photographer plus many more. So you can see why productivity is needed in my life, otherwise the house would be empty of food, children would be running feral, and you would not be reading this post.

I have brought in over the past month daily habits which help me to be productive. These really have helped myself and hopefully may help you too. Keep reading for my Top 3 Daily Habits…

GET UP EARLY

Trust me, you will be surprised by this one. It totally works and days I do this, I am way more awake and the productivity is oozing out of me before I even get to work.

One sneaky tip for this one, if you struggle getting up early and tempted to hit that snooze button then you must try the ‘5 Second Rule’. I seen this by Mel Robbins, you count down like a rocket launch…. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and move. Get up out of bed and get moving. Doing this method stops your brain killing the idea of hitting the snooze button.

Another tip is plan the night what you want to achieve in the morning. Do you want to be productive and get that blog post done, have some extra work to catch up on or simply have breakfast in peace. This is the moment you can gain some spare time, which you would have not previously had.

I normally do this 2-3 times a week on workdays, I will get up at 5am instead of 7am and first I will make myself a cuppa. I like to plan my day and calendar blocking (more of this in a moment) and then do a task in piece, normally this is blog/vlog related. Can be anything from editing or editorial planning to scheduling posts.

I want to start doing this each work day and start incorporating some workout and fitness time too. . I always make sure I have 7 hours sleep and aim before I go to bed, the desired time to set my alarm. Again you can plan this using calendar blocking. This really does make a huge difference and for me, I don’t get huge amounts of time by myself, this helps me wake up and have a sanity couple of hours before the arguments of getting ready for school begins, I certainly am more calmer in this respect as previously been in a tranquil peaceful setting, plus feel super productive from planning my day and achieving a few tasks.

Daily Habits

CALENDAR BLOCKING

I have seen about calendar blocking a few times now and always admired the idea. Until recently, I hadn’t tried calendar blocking but the first day I tried this secret of productivity…..no lie, I got a huge amount done plus the benefit of being super organised.

I am currently reading ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ by Cyril Peupion, and calendar blocking is explained in detail from a work perspective. I have incorporated this throughout my day, literally from waking up to going to bed. Amy Landino states a good way to source spare time to be productive is to block as you go, then you can see when you could save time.

Currently I have found Google Calendars works better for me personally than Outlook which is what Cyril recommends, I use Google Calendars for personal and work. Everything is colour coded, not just to make a beautiful rainbow effect, but to separate and categorise each event and task. I may change this and keep work separate on Outlook, and my day in general on my Google Calendar.

My Calendar Categories I currently use are:

  • Make It Happen | This is for my everyday generic tasks
  • Work | Any work related tasks and reminders
  • Commuting | I lose 1.5 hours a working day commuting, imagine if commuting by train how much I could do in this time
  • Appointments | The kids social life is better than mine, so any appointments for any of us go under this section
  • Editorial | Anything SimplyStacey related, from posts to publish to editing
  • Family Time | Make time to spend with your loved ones
  • Me Time | Make time for yourself

Things happen during the day which will change your neatly planned day, this is ok. To be honest, this is the part that put me off. I have a need for a perfectly run routine and things like a spanner in the works puts me off the day. But with the beauty of calendar blocking is just move that stuff around. I have found doing my calendar easier to set out fully on the desktop version rather than the app.

The first day I set my calendar up, I got stuff don’t that I have been putting off. I put on my positive pants on, brought out my cube timer (I take this very seriously at all levels) and focused. Then before my timer even had the chance to alert me, by golly I had only done a task that previously I would have kept moving from one day to the next. This is a must to try if you want to set time to be productive, make sure you grab those moments where you do actually have the time, until you calendar block you just might now have known you had those precious moments.

daily habits

TAKE TIME OUT

This may seem a strange daily habit considering we are aiming to boost productivity. But this has made the biggest difference to my own sanity the past few months. From being unwell and feeling overwhelmed with tasks, at one stage I was feeling exhausted and felt I was like Stretch Armstrong (if yours a 90’s babe you will know what I am on about), I felt i was being pulled at all angles and also feeling extremely suffocated.

I am not one for putting myself first, I never have been. But recently I realised I need to look after myself, I was too busy looking after everyone else, trying to do everything at once. I was watching my favourite girl crush Amy Landino, as I usually do on a Sunday and Wednesday, when one of her videos was her skincare routine. As one of my goals is having the life Amy has, I thought OK, I have some skincare products gathering dust dotted around. I clipped my hair back and then came a new obsession….looking after myself. I now do a skincare routine every morning and evening, take the time to do a face mask and paint my nails.

The main point of this habit is not to make yourself look even more stunning, but we all know this helps you feel more confident in yourself which also can aid you being productive. This habit is to take time out from your busy day and make time for you This can be have a binge on the latest must see Netflix series, go for a walk or do some reading. What ever you makes you feel calm and de-stresses yourself and take time from your usual routine. This completely refreshes you and makes you feel ready to be productive and smash those goals you set yourself.

I have implemented many other daily habits which help me to be at my best, but this by far is currently my favourite Top 3 Daily Habits. Have you tried these habits, or are you planning to? 

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