Starting 2013 With a Bang – 5 Tools to Help You Succeed

This is already shaping up to be a great year. My jobby job, our house, my husband’s and my relationship, the kids, our business… Everything is really starting to come together, and I am loving it!  🙂  The past year has been intensely challenging, with the biggest lessons for me involving balance and organization. There is just so much to be done!! I have often found myself forgetting things on my to-do lists, not responding quickly enough to clients and not meeting deadlines, missing out on time with my husband and kids, and generally feeling overwhelmed. Not a good way to run a business or a life. So, while my never-ending search for the “perfect” tools/system/apps to keep my life organized continues, I have picked up a few tricks along that way that may help YOU this year…


Yes, I know everyone has heard of (and probably uses) Evernote, but I seriously don’t know how I would live without it anymore! If you don’t have it, you need to get it. And yes, I mean “need”. Any little piece of information I come across – a website, a picture I take, a voice note or scribbled sketch or scanned-in receipt – is sent off to Evernote and put in its proper folder, where it is instantly synced to the cloud and available wherever I have internet access. It’s like a portable brain! I am still working on my ideal file structure, but what I have right now is an Inbox (which syncs with Zendone, coming up next), a “Reference” folder for general storage, and a handful of synced folders that I share with various people. I did attempt a GTD setup at one point, but Zendone handles that aspect of things quite nicely.Image


I have been flirting with this nifty little utility for awhile now. Essentially, it is a “personal productivity app” that integrates with Evernote and facilitates the implementation of the GTD methodology. That all sounds very complex, but it’s really not! In practical terms, what it does is allow me to throw everything willy-nilly into Evernote, and then easily break it down into relevant folders, projects and actions. It syncs with Google Calendar, too! The one thing that has kept me from using it religiously (which I should be) is the lack of a mobile app. However, I am thrilled to report that their iPhone app is now available, with Android following shortly! Image

Plan to Eat

I love this site. It is a menu planner, recipe box and grocery list all in one – and it syncs with Google Calendar, too!! 😀 I add in recipes from anywhere (I usually import from a URL). I add the recipes to my planner, and then go to the grocery list, where I can remove or add things as I look over my pantry inventory – and then print out the list or just check things off on my phone. It has taken making dinner from a stressful and frustrating chore to something approaching enjoyable – and significantly decreased our grocery budget, to boot! 


Google Calendar

This one needs no link. If you don’t have a Google account, get one now. They are free, and you get all sorts of goodies (like this calendar) also free. You can create as many calendars on your account as you like (school, blog, birthdays, etc.), add users (so grandma can see the kids’ school schedule), publish it for the world to see (or not), and import any calendar with an iCal feed (like Plan to Eat). So simple, yet so necessary… 😉



Oh, budgeting happiness! I started using Mint some time ago, and was never quite happy with what they provided… Mvelopes lets you add accounts, create a budget, track all your spending, and – most importantly for me – see how much I will have to spend in the future! I set my budget and funding for each category, and divvy the money I currently have between my envelopes. At any point, from a computer or my phone, I can tell how much money I have left in each (or envelope) and plan for the remainder of the month. I know at all times how much I currently have, what will be coming out, and how much leeway I have. Using Mvelopes has made a substantial difference in our budget, and rather than tapping into savings each month, we are putting money back in. An essential tool!

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… If you have used any of these tools and found them useful (or didn’t), I’d love to hear about your experiences! I’m sure there are many tools out there I haven’t come across, as well, and I’m always game to try something new… Happy (slightly belated) New Year, and here’s to an organized, successful and prosperous one!  🙂



Filed under Android, Budgeting, Business, Domesticity, Geekiness, GTD, Meal Planning, Organization, Tech reviews, Time Management

3 responses to “Starting 2013 With a Bang – 5 Tools to Help You Succeed

  1. Thanks for sharing Briana. I’ll have to try your suggestions .. particularly Plan to Eat. It sounds like it may be the tool I needed but never realised!

  2. Shelley Rees

    Great post – I found it when searching for zendone reviews. I’m going to give that a whirl, after having tried Remember The Milk and Astrid for a while – I like the evernote integration. Thanks!

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