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07 October 2012 Posted by 

How to improve productivity with apps

By Dexter Duncan

PRODUCTIVITY is often about doing one thing at a time, often best when focused on your computer at your desk.

Many people are already using their private smart phones, iPads or laptops to organize their life and work which is extending productivity further. (Some call this the Bring Your Own Device, BYOD, policy.)

Blackberry phones used to rule the workplace since they handled applications like email really well.

Phones have gone beyond e-mail, with the iPhone on its’ 5th generation, Galaxy III leading the Androids and a plethora of more smart phone and new Pad like devices coming out under Windows 8.You should be using these portables to help you get ahead.

The most common ways of staying in touch and keeping organized have evolved over time.    As e-mail, texting, web browsing, documents and tools to remind and save time are all essential in most offices, the below are a great place to start with mobile apps.

Most of the below are easy to use and install and are available on iPhone and Android.    Some require basic knowledge which any tech head can figure out and a few require an “expert” to configure. Prices range from free to monthly user fees.

1. The basics – Phone, SMS and e-mail for communicators.

Sample apps in the basics include Viber, Skype, Fring, Text Free, textPlus, WhatsApp and Sparrow. The most used aspect of your smart phone is the talking, texting and e-mails. These can lead to huge monthly bills and all companies would like to control these costs while leaving their staff on a plan. Viber and Skype are both applications that use the data network to make calls and have chat sessions, without impacting your call minutes. This saves you plenty, especially in international calls and texts.

Most offices have a mixture of fixed (expensive) telephone and internet based VoIP lines. Fring is Voice Over IP (VoIP) option that extends your VoIP phone in your home/office to your mobile. This means you can answer your office phone while on the run, often more productive than forwarding the phone or checking for messages.    

If you have high texting bills, consider using TextFree and textPLUS. These are SMS specialty applications which use the data network to save you heaps on your text minutes, especially international. WhatsApp Messenger allows you to send video messages too.

Most phones allow you to add your Microsoft Exchange based account to your phone.    Some find value in combining multiple accounts on their phone. For iPhone users, the app called Sparrow removes frustration of managing your Mac email and gmail with one tool.

2. The intermediate – storage, syncing and note taking for organizers.

Sample applications for storage and syncing your files between multiple devices include SkyDrive, Box, Dropbox and Google Drive. Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Google’s Drive are perhaps best positioned to store your files for free in the “cloud” giving you access and hassle free backup no matter where you are in the globe.  SkyDrive, Box and Dropbox sync files locally across multiple devices and the cloud allowing to quick local (off-line) access on multiple devices. All of these apps are also great for files sharing, collaboration and updating/reviewing documents, presentations and spreadsheets in a team. They also work with photos and videos.

Sample applications that make it easier to take notes or make lists include Evernote, Remember the Milk, TeuxDeux and Any.DO. Some tools for teams include Asana and Orchestra for tasks and projects. Evernote allows you to attach photos, save articles and organize your notes, where the rest are more task lists.

3. The advanced – aggregating for roaming warriors.

Sample advanced applications for those always out of the office include CamScanner, Slice, Tripit, RosterZero and some approval apps in SharePoint. CamScanner turns your phone into a document scanner. Slice aggregates receipts from your multiple e-mails to store them in one place. Tripit manages trip itineraries in one place.  RosterZero allows you to roster your staff using touch based interface. Approval apps for SharePoint make it easy for you to review and approve/reject travel requests, expenses and leave while out of the office.

The best productivity tool is to switch everything off and focus on your priority at hand.  The above sample applications allow you to do your work from any mobile device.

See our website for more www.EmpowerIT.com.au or www.EmpowerCS.com.au

Dexter Duncan is a manager at Empower IT Solutions. Contact Dexter at dd@EmpowerIT.com.au


1. Apps to slash your cell phone bill: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/09/16/apps-to-slash-your-cell-phone-bill/?cmpid=app_pulse&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews 2. Best Android Productivity Apps:  http://www.businessinsider.com/best-android-productivity-apps-2012-8?op=1 3. PC Mag:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2395940,00.asp


Michael Walls
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Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.