My five go-to apps

By Laura Haight

I have 235 apps on my iPad — a fact I find shocking because on a regular basis I use about 20.

The beauty of mobile computing is the ability to have small, situational apps that do one thing really well. You realize you need a digital recorder for a meeting and you download iTalk while you’re walking through the parking lot. We all have a lot of those.

But then there are the go-to apps that you use all the time that make your mobile device a tool not a toy. To make my list, an app has to have three things: best in class functionality that is steadily developing, integrations with other top apps and the ability to let me work wherever I am on whatever device I have in front of me.

I’d love to hear what yours are, but here’s my list (counting down):

5. Trello. There are as many different ways to use this organizational tool as there are people using it. Build out stacks that represent steps in a project, then layer in cards for assignments or tasks. Drag and drop cards to new stacks as steps progress. Make assignments to team members and email enable your updates. Add checklists and visual labels along with integrations with Google Apps, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive. It’s simple, elegant, full-featured and free. What more can you ask?

4. Doodle. Scheduling meetings is a tremendous time-waster, no matter who does it. Some studies suggest that it takes as many as seven emails to schedule a meeting of more than two people. Doodle changes the dynamic. With your calendar and contacts connection, you propose meeting times to attendees. Your tentative times sync back to your main calendar so you don’t accidentally double-book while waiting for them to respond. Attendees see everyone’s availability and you can set reminders for those whose responses lag. There’s also a meet me page that let’s people who want to meet with you see your free/busy time and propose possible meeting times around it. Nope, not free though. It is $39 per year.

3. Hootsuite. There are a lot of social media aggregators and many offer more than Hootsuite, but unless you are a marketing agency you probably don’t need more. For the rest of us who just want to stay on top of social media for our businesses without making a daily project out of it, Hootsuite serves. It’s not just posting; you can get analytic reports to see click rates on your posts, view your posts in a drag-and-drop calendar, and track what your clients, customers or followers are talking about with customizable streams. Free? You bet, at least for those posting for your own business. If marketing is your game and you post for multiple clients, you’ll need an $8.99 per person per month account.

2. Last Pass. For years I warned against these kinds of programs but now I’m convinced you just can’t live without them. The key is finding one with the strongest security and the greatest commitment to overall internet security, coupled with ease of use for you. I’ve used 1 Password and Robo Form as well as a couple of lesser known iterations, but Last Pass wins hands down.. If you had Last Pass during the Heartbleed incident you knew which of the sites you use were exposed, and when they were updated. You can run a security check on your passwords to tell you how protected you are and your reports will tell you specifically what passwords need to changed. They care; it shows. Free.

1. Evernote. I should have a buck for everyone I meet who says they hear great things about Evernote but they just don’t understand it. This is a shame since it is an incredible program. Have an article on a webpage you want to save? Check. How about an email with info you want to archive? Check. Handwritten notes from a conversation you want to be able to search? Got it. In short anything you want to save, no matter the source can be tagged for easy searching and saved in Evernote using integrations from web browser plugins to email uploads. Optical Character Recognition makes handwritten notes searchable and useful. You can also take photos and save them as business cards, documents or post it notes. Finally, you can share files or even entire notebooks with anyone — whether they have Evernote or not. The productivity gains are worth the time you put in to finding out how to make this work for you. Storage is plentiful and a premium account is $40 per year.