If you’re reading this, there is a strong possibility that you have difficulties with punctuality.
Perhaps you are often times forgetful, or need constant reminders, or just need some help organizing your thoughts and ideas.
My friends are always complaining that I’m late, or constantly forgetting plans I’ve made, being very disorganized. Maybe you can relate.
In this day and age, we use several forms of social media, and various online websites to involve ourselves in special events. We even get reminders for our friends birthdays through Facebook, or instant messaging apps, and emails.
There shouldn’t be any excuse for forgetting or missing an event, unless you really didn’t want to go.
Although you could be like me, and be slightly disorganized. Luckily there’s several Apps including native Apps for your smartphone to help organize your life, and remind you of all those important dates.
Calendar & To-Do List Apps
Reminders for events is not a new concept. There’s something on every phone that many neglect to use: it’s called a calendar. We have had calendars on phones since they became a standard on the feature phones (basic phones with limited abilities, or non smartphones).
Calendars are great for setting up meetings with friends, knowing what your work week looks like, birthday or anniversary reminders, concerts, and other fun events people may invite you to via Facebook, Evite, Bands In Town, or events saved under your Email Calendar Events such as Google’s Calendar, or Outlook Calendar.
It helps people like myself stay organized and be on time to events.
While I may not be the most punctual person, I have become a bit better with being on time to events with the help of my phone’s calendar.
The great thing about your phone’s calendar app, is that you can even sync the events from other social media websites mentioned above, all on one calendar. This way you can check what is going on for the day and see when your event is or if anything is tentatively planned.
Often times the default reminder for these events will be set for 15 minutes, so you have a small time frame to be reminded. Most people need a little longer reminder and you will need to change the reminder time manually through your calendars events.
If you have an iPhone, there are a few more tedious steps to sync all your events from other social media platforms onto Apple’s Calendar, but it can be done.
The great thing about calendars, is that they usually have built-in task lists, or “to-do lists” for you to keep track of what you might need. Apple has made it even more convenient to set up a calendar event, or to-do list by simply having Siri do the work for you.
After all, Siri is supposed to be your digital assistant, making things easier for you so you can focus your attention on those important tasks at hand. Asking Siri to create or even cancel a Calendar event only takes a few seconds.
It works much faster than manually creating and entering the information in your Calendar yourself. Siri can tell you what’s on your agenda for the day as well, rather than having to go to your Calendar app, and even allows to move existing events to other times so you can make room for that extra nap you wanted to schedule in before an important meeting.
If you have an iPhone, a great app to tackle all your to-do lists is an Apple program called Things.
The Apple program (Things, now on version 2) is one of the best tools for actually getting things accomplished. This program breaks down some of the most disconcerting tasks into simplistic, and achievable steps, and brings list making into the internet era.
You can use this program on your phone, iPad, or computer. Simply type in everything you need to do, whether it be a single task, or weekly projects such as taking out the trash or paying a monthly bill.
It even allows for you to put a time limit on when tasks need to be completed and group individual things into larger projects or categories such as family or work. Every day, Things will present you with a checklist which you can share or print out, so you don’t forget anything.
The best part is, Things automatically syncs all your lists across all your Apple devices. So when you come across an idea or remember something while out and about, you can simply tell Siri to put it in your lists and the program will sort it out for you.
James Kendall, the publisher of the Entertainment Magazine Source, says of Things: “I think it’s the best organizational app, and having it on my desktop and on my phone is essential. You just have to get into the habit of using it.”
Memos, Notes, & List Managers
Smartphone users often take for granted apps that are pre-installed on their devices.
Every operating system has its own unique memo or notepad which you can jot down notes or ideas. The iPhone has Notes, which allows users to doodle, jot down ideas, or make lists. With the updated version of Notes in iOS 9, you can make a to-do list into an interactive checklist, or add a photo, map, or webpage to your list.
Windows Phone users have OneNote, which can also be downloaded for iPhone and Android phones. This is similar to the iPhones Notes app, except it is multi-platform, meaning it will work on any operating system or web browser; so you always have access to your notes.
OneNote also allows users to add pictures or documents from outside sources such as DropBox, or other cloud services like Google Drive. It can even do a search recognition based on your handwriting for handwritten notes!
24me is another great personal assistant app which takes information from your calendar, to-do lists, and notes, and auto generates reminders for you. If you’re forgetful like me, than this is a great app to help with reminders.
It even syncs up with other apps such as Facebook to send out birthday messages to your friends. Originally available only on iPhones through the App Store, it is now available on Google Play for Android users too!
I should also mention that Google has something called, Google Keep. It’s their version of a simple note taking app to make lists, or jot down ideas. Users are able to add pictures or set reminders, and share their notes with other people.
There’s all kinds of note taking applications, each with similar, yet unique capabilities that set them apart from one another.
Wunderlist is another great tool to have for people. This app is a great organizational tool for helpful standard lists or to-do lists.
It’s free for the basic version, but if you want more features, it’s a $50.00/year for a pro version with more collaborative features geared towards businesses.
You can share, edit, add, or check off items and have the people you share it with do the same.
Apps like this are useful if you already use them for other task lists, and don’t want a separate app just for groceries, but they lack the food-specific features of apps designed for groceries.
Smart Virtual Personal Assistants
We are one-third into the new year, and you have still been struggling with your resolution to become more organized.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone would just keep track of everything we had to do?
If you are a proud owner of a smart phone, you’re in luck! Almost all smartphones now come equipped with their very own personal assistant right at your finger tips. You don’t even have to touch your phone for your personal assistant’s help, because they all have some form of voice recognition to activate.
Each of these smart assistants pertain to the specific operating system your phone uses.
Siri is a built-in “intelligent assistant” that enables users of Apple iPhone 4S and later iPhone models, to use voice commands in order to operate the mobile device and its apps. Users use their voice to request their phone to do anything from sending a text message, place calls, set reminders, web search, answer math problems, to operating any app they wish to use.
Cortana is Microsoft’s equivalent to Siri. It enables users of the Windows 8.1 smartphones and
later models to operate the Windows phones using voice commands. It basically does the exact same thing as Siri.
This personal assistant was named after a synthetic intelligence character created by Microsoft’s original X-Box Game, Halo. The great thing about Cortana, is that it can be downloaded across all operating systems. Meaning you can use it on an iPhone, Android, or Windows device.
Cortana uses something called the “Notebook”, which is where information will be stored and can be accessed by Cortana such as location data, reminders, contacts, and so forth.
Unlike Google Now or Siri, users will be able to view this information that is collected and have more “level of control that goes beyond comparable assistants” according to Mark Hachman of PC World. The Notebook is where personal information will be stored for access by Cortana, such as interests, location data, reminders, and contacts. Users can also delete information from the “Notebook” if they deem it undesirable for Cortana to know.
Google Now on the other hand, is Google’s version of a smart personal assistant. You can find Google Now through the Google Search mobile application for Android or iOS (that’s Apple’s operating system), or even the Chrome web browser.
Unlike Cortana or Siri, Google Now does not have as much personality. On the other hand, it is the first of its kind to anticipate a users needs. Popular Science awarded Google Now with the prestigious award of “innovation of the year” in 2012.
The app organizes just about anything you can think of, from when bills are due, to birthday reminders, all on one interface. The info is taken from your Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, and Google Search, and is then organized into cards providing all the info you need or want without having to search for it.
Google Now has a new feature with the updated Android operating system “Marshmallow” called Google Now on Tap. This new feature allows users to hold down the home button on any google operating system, and pops up relevant information to whatever you may be looking at.
For example, if you are chatting with a friend about a new restaurant, and you want to know more about the restaurant, you would tap the home screen, and a yelp review would pop up in the cards.
An alternative to Google Now is the EasilyDo app available for both iOS and Android users, but unfortunately not for Windows users. It organizes relevant information in the same card fashion, however, to access all the features, you need to pay for the premium version.
A running contender for the voice activated personal assistant is a new App that gives Google Now, Cortana, and Siri a run for their money. It’s called Hound.
Hound takes your conversational dialogue and interprets exactly what you are asking for.
For instance, you might ask, “what’s the difference in temperature in Tokyo compared to Seattle?” Hound will use speech recognition, as well as language understanding to give you the answers you want.
Users can even ask follow up questions, or ask specific details. Say for instance, you want a hotel in Tokyo with only 4 star ratings, listed by prices between 100-400 dollars a night. Hound will break down your question and give you the info just like that!
No matter what you need to organize your life, there is an abundant amount of apps or tools you can choose from to help you with your goal.
If you have something else you would like to add, please share it with us!