Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Top 5 Ways My iPhone Keeps Me Organized

Posted by Devin

Last week the unthinkable happened: I shattered my iPhone screen when I dropped it on the sidewalk while carrying in groceries (multitask much?). I was devastated! I knew I would have to either get it fixed or get a new one. And fast.

Now let me just say here that I never thought I would be one of those people that loved a phone. Up until two years ago I still had a flip phone (which according to Schmidt on New Girl means I was either poor or a time traveller) and no desire to get anything else. And then my darling husband completely surprised me with an iPhone for Christmas. At first I was kind of like "Oh... Wow... Ok, thanks!" but then my super thoughtful guy started to explain to me that I would no longer have to carry my camera, notebook, day planner, or grocery lists around with me in my purse and reassured me that this phone was going to make my life easier (and my purse lighter). And boy was he right! 

So in light of my recent re-appreciation of my phone (yes, I DID get a new one), I am going to share the top five ways my iPhone keeps me organized. If you haven't learned this about me yet, I love organization. It's no wonder I love my phone! Without further ado, here is my list!

1. Reminders

One of the greatest things about my iPhone is that it's like I have a personal assistant with me all the time. I can bark out orders to it like "Remind me to start dinner in the crockpot in the morning!" or "Remind me to pay the bills when I get home!" and it will always faithfully remind me to do so. I feel like Miranda Priestly on The Devil Wears Prada! I should really think about naming my phone Emily. Now if Apple can just figure out a way for my phone to actually DO those things for me like Emily does for Miranda, that would be even better. ;)

In addition to these random reminders I need occasionally, there are also things I need to remember on a regular basis that my iPhone helps me with. Every Monday morning my phone reminds me to check my boys' on-line grades and classroom newsletters which is such an easy task for me to forget. And there is nothing worse than missing a trash pick-up day. Not a problem anymore since I get a prompt reminder on those mornings to take out the trash. No more overflowing trash at my house! And no more flaky, over-loaded mama who can't remember to get things done!

If you are not familiar with the Reminders feature on your iPhone, I highly recommend you get familiar with it. Because who doesn't need a personal assistant?!! 

2. Notes

As I said before, I used to carry a notebook around with me in my purse. It added a bit of weight to carry on my shoulder, but I always had things I needed to write down so I liked to keep it with me all the time. That has definitely been replaced by my phone.

I currently have 12 separate lists in the Notes section of my iPhone. These range from To Do lists to Blog Ideas to an on-going list of Ideas for Christmas Presents for loved ones. It's all there on my phone, ready for me to check or add to them as needed. 

And one of the most useful lists I keep on my phone is my Weekly Menu. I do my grocery shopping on Thursdays, so every Wednesday night I fill in the next week's dinner schedule on my menu list. This way I know what I need to buy at the store the next day and I can refer to it throughout the week to see what I was planning on preparing each day. I can shuffle meals if need to and I delete them off my list once we have eaten them. If I get to the end of the week and I see that we skipped a certain dinner, I can use it for a meal early in the following week. This really helps me to be an efficient meal planner and a good grocery budgeter. And on this note, let's move on to number 3!

3. Grocery iQ

I have always viewed my role as a stay-at-home mom as a JOB. There are many responsibilities that go along with this job and I try to do my best at each of them, just as I would if I were heading into an office each day (but my commute is SO much nicer than poor Jake's). Grocery shopping is one of my weekly tasks that keeps me "on my toes", so to speak. It always presents unique challenges to me to: 1. Limit my visits to the grocery store to once a week without forgetting anything I need, 2. Stick to my budget and keep from over-spending while shopping, and 3. Be efficient with my time so I can get the heck out of Walmart and go home! The Grocery iQ app (free and available from the App Store) helps me to do all three. Here's Cash giving Walmart the "Peace out!"

Grocery iQ is basically my weekly grocery shopping list that I can add items to throughout the week. It allows me to organize my lists by aisle and I can even arrange my aisles in the order they are laid out in my favorite stores! Once I have arranged my aisles on the app (which you only have to do once if you always shop at the same store like I do, or you can create separate stores with unique aisle orders), it will automatically arrange items I add to my list into which aisle they belong in (dairy, deli, bread, baking, etc.) and voila! My list is in perfect order when I'm ready to do my grocery shopping! If you are a frequent grocery shopper, you can understand how having your shopping list written down in order can make your trip so much shorter and more efficient.

In addition to these conveniences, Jake also has this app on his phone and can add items to it or remove them if he happens to swing by the store and pick them up. It's great, folks. Anything that allows me to limit my time at the grocery store gets an A+ from me!

4. Goodbudget

Goodbudget is an extra app that you will need to download from the App Store if you would like to have it on your iPhone. It's free and easy to add to your phone. It used to be called EEBA (Easy Envelope Budget Aid) and I wrote quite extensively about it in my post on Envelope Budgeting for Busy Families. And since I have already written so much about this, I will keep this section brief. If you are a family that tries to maintain a set budget, this app will simplify your efforts and keep you organized. As the makers of this app state, it helps you "save for big expenses, share budgets with the people who matter most, and create a budget that actually works." Honestly, without this app on my iPhone, I can't imagine trying to stay organized on our budget. Love this app.  

5. Calendar

I suppose this one seems kind of obvious, but switching from a physical/paper-and-pen day planner was a big change for me. And not exactly a giant leap into the 21st century since electronic planners have been around for quite awhile, but the fact that it's all on my phone and not an extra device is super convenient. I now keep track of all my appointments and kiddos games and practices and loved ones birthdays and various events on the Calendar on my phone.

I'm not going to say that I think the iPhone calendar is perfect. The display options for daily/weekly/monthly events leave a little to be desired in my opinion (listen up Apple quality control peeps, since I KNOW that my blog is your go-to reference for product reviews), but there are many things I do like about it. I like that I can enter in recurring events and have them show up every week without having to write them down over and over again. I like that my husband's calendar is synced with mine so we both know what's happening with our family's schedule. I like that I can enter in the address for an upcoming event and then when the time comes to go I can simply click on that address and be automatically directed to a map telling me how to get there. I like that my family's birthdays are automatically synced to my calendar through my contact list and I don't miss calling them on their special day. I like that I can change information on my calendar without scribbling or erasing it out of a book. (I don't like untidy calendars. Oops! My OCD is showing.) The point is, even with my few complaints, my iPhone calendar does wonders in keeping my life organized.

And that completes my TOP 5 list. I haven't even touched on the fact that my phone tracks and records all of my workouts (Endomondo), allows me to leave my various books for church classes at home (LDS Gospel Library, this is important for a mom whose hands are too full with keeping 4 boys in their pew to be able to juggle tons of extra books), tells me what the weather will be like so I can dress the boys accordingly, etc etc. There are so many ways my iPhone keeps me organized. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tell "Emily" just how much I love her. Again.

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At January 31, 2014 at 10:39 PM , Blogger Daily Express said...

This was such a fun read. I always enjoying hearing how others stay organized and their must-have apps on their phone, so this was kind of like a 2-for-1 win! I definitely live for the reminders and I'm also a fan of Goodbudget! I just switched over from Android and was so glad they have the same thing for iphone. I'm using OurGroceries, but if I end up not liking it for some reason I'll have to try your suggestion. -Gina
On the Daily Express

At February 2, 2014 at 6:43 AM , Blogger Amanda Smith said...

I have an android, but I agree, it helps me soooo much! The picture of you kissing the phone is cute. I feel the same way! And I have more that 12 lists. The list capability and calander capability of smartphones is amazing.

At February 12, 2014 at 1:33 PM , Blogger Mary Hagopian said...

I know right. An iPhone is so versatile that we can do so much even if it’s the only content of our bag. It’s a phone, a camera, a web browser, a watch and many others. You listed only five things, but I’m sure your phone helps you in so many other ways. Well, I hope you had your screen fixed by now. How was it?

Mary Hagopian

At February 22, 2014 at 6:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be obnoxious and I understand if you can't afford elsewhere, but Walmart is a very unethical company for a variety of reasons, mostly to to the owners of the company. I won't go into it now but I just thought I'd let you know!

At February 24, 2014 at 7:50 AM , Blogger Tara and Devin said...

Thanks for your comments Gina! So glad you stopped by!

At February 24, 2014 at 7:51 AM , Blogger Tara and Devin said...

It IS amazing! Thanks Amanda!

At February 24, 2014 at 7:52 AM , Blogger Tara and Devin said...

I actually just got a new iPhone. But I kept the old one in case something horrific ever happens to my new one! ;) Thanks Mary!

At February 24, 2014 at 7:54 AM , Blogger Tara and Devin said...

Wherever you choose to shop, the app is still great. Thanks for stopping by!

At January 7, 2015 at 1:22 PM , Blogger Molly Campbell said...

These were great tips, thanks! One app you might like (or it might be too similar to what you already have) is Wunderlist - it's a to do/shopping list, but I love it because it's free, and works on basically all platforms, so I have it on my computer, tablet and phone, and you can share lists so my husband has it on his phone. So as soon as I think of something I need to do or buy, I can turn to the nearest device to add it, instead of hoping I'll remember to add it when I figure out where I left my phone (Yep, that happens a LOT). And you can set deadlines, reminders, etc. It's the first to do list app that I've stuck with. And I'll definitely be checking out some of the ones you recommended!

At February 19, 2015 at 6:19 PM , Anonymous Jodie Lundell said...

For organizational apps and calendars, Like Springboard and Awesome Note.

Springboard is great in that you can log in on your desktop as well and everything you do on the desktop automatically goes into your phone when you open the app. Super fantastic for me.

Awesome Note is great for the calendar and all the little nuggets you want to keep track of, like birthdays and such, as well as reminders, lists, etc.

I like them both but I tend to use Springboard a little more now.

At February 19, 2015 at 6:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Springpad. It's Springpad. I have no idea why I called it Springboard. Mommy brain...

At May 13, 2015 at 7:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spring pad Was my favorite too, Before it shut down! I still dislike Evernote but I use it. I just wish you could put a note in more than one notebook.

At December 20, 2015 at 11:42 PM , Blogger Cordia Remsen said...

I am all about staying organized so reading about someone who shares my interests was wonderful. I wasn't surprised when I saw a few of the applications I use listed here, they are all truly helpful. I will have to take a look at some of the ones I haven't tried before. I am always open to knew ways of keeping on top of things.

Cordia Remsen @ RB’s Computer Service

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