The holiday season is upon us, which means all our daily activities have accelerated just a little bit more. You need to complete that work project before your client goes on vacation. You have to figure out how to attend the holiday office parties for both you and your spouse, while still attending your son’s Christmas pageant and helping your daughter make cookies for the school bake sale. And while all that takes place, you still have to get the house ready for the deluge of relatives on Christmas Eve.
But if you’re ready to grab the reins and take control of the flying sleigh that is your life in December, the added pressure of the holidays can be just the motivation you need to get organized and be even more productive than you ever were. The age of cloud computing provides tools that can help you turn the Christmas rush into what Simpson’s fanatics call Crisitunity!
Of the “50 Apps That Can Make Your More Productive,” reviewed by Jill Kelly of PC Magazine, the first four are cloud-based calendar- and document-sharing systems. So organization is immediately within reach regardless of your platform loyalties, and often at no additional cost. These tools are designed to sync up with smartphones with minimal effort on your part, even when using competing technologies (Google Drive and iPhone, for example).
The online calendar features built-in to these systems are in and of itself invaluable. You can set up different schedules for work and personal commitments, and share your calendars with everyone from your business colleagues to your 14 first cousins. I’ve seen people use the reminder function to cue them of imminent events, but I like to build a lot of extra time into mine, so every time my phone buzzes me with an upcoming appointment, I can easily reset it like the snooze button on my morning alarm clock.
For those who don’t want such a comprehensive system, there are myriad standalone apps for staying on top of daily and weekly responsibilities. I agree with Shopify.com blogger Mark Hayes’s recommendation of TeuxDeux. The ability to “Type your to-do, edit, check off, done,” as he writes, along with its clean layout make it the app for even the least technologically adept among us.
On the other hand, voice-operated virtual assistants are the latest and greatest wave for those who like to ride the cutting edge of productivity technology. Apple’s Siri may have all the A-List celebrities in their marketing campaign, but according to Kevin Smith at Business Insider, Google’s Robin for the Android phone is “the first true Siri challenger.
Of course, humans were quite capable of getting organized and being productive long before the microchip came along. The act of writing something down is often a sufficient reminder. So there’s absolutely nothing wrong with printed calendars, address books, day planners, if technology isn’t your thing. Most of these tools are equally portable as your mobile phone and won’t leave you stranded if you’ve forgotten to plug them in for a couple of days. Now that’s a crisis!
About the Author: Chris Lenois is a small business owner, professional journalist, and freelance writer for Vistaprint, offering a huge selection of personalized holiday gifts like Christmas cards, mugs, and calendars. Lenois’ work has appeared in many publications, including the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Scat Magazine, and Wired.