TOOLSLately many of my conversations end with me suggesting a certain tool, technique, app to someone. I’m all about us all creating lives that are happier, more effective, and less stressful.  Here are a few of the tools that have helped me in some of these areas over the last year*:

Evernote:  This is a note taking app and computer download that has changed how I take and find notes for work meetings.  I only use about 1/3 of it’s capability, but it’s crazy powerful and can sync between your computer, phone, tablet, and even has offline access at times.  I can’t use it for my to-do lists daily or weekly, but I do use it to take notes on content or subjects that I need to remember and use later on.

Waze: My hubby thinks I’m slightly psycho for following this app’s driving directions almost with a cultish devotion… but this thing has only steered me into traffic TWICE. It’s a crowd-sourced driving app that uses other driver’s real-time data to navigate you home or to work without traffic.  It’s amazing, and I do follow it slightly obsessively.  I’m ok with it… because I’m on time and get home before the kids totally melt down.

Audible:  I’m also admittedly an amazon lover, and a friend convinced me to try audio books on my commute.  I have consumed more personal development books while driving than I ever knew possible, and it gives traffic delays and long lights an entirely new meaning… more listening!  Google Play books, I-books, and audible E-books from the library are also great resources.

Weekly Goal-focused Planner: There are so many types of paper planners out there, but this one has worked for me this year.  It is crucial for me to focus on the key outcomes each week and break them down into actionable steps… or I am a distracted child that gets caught up in the small meaningless stuff thrown my way. I take time each week (30min-1hr) to plan out what I would like to “ideally” happen. I’m ok if it doesn’t, but it keeps me focused for sure.

Amazon Moms/Student/Prime/Whatever:  I heart Amazon. I love that they make it possible to find last minute kid and work stuff without leaving my house. Signing up to one of Amazon’s services that allows me free shipping has got me hooked.  Now that there is also a radio and movie/book/tv check-out option for stuff has me even more hooked (next point).

Spotify (or possibly Amazon Prime Radio?):  My hubby converted me to Spotify after a year of pure resistance on my end.  I think I missed 2 years of hit music.  Now I can actually listen to good music without going out of my way.  The cost is worth it right now to me, because I don’t buy CD’s or online albums for the most part. I might, however, be switching to just Amazon radio soon… especially if I can save monthly fees.

Online Grocery shopping & delivery: My neighbors think we are from the space age when groceries come to our house, but I have started loathing grocery shopping. I loathe it a lot less (and spend less money on me and the kids) when I do it in my jammies at my computer. Delivery fees are worth it to me, and I can pick when they show up. It has saved me time, money, and sanity.

Headspace: I have tried a few different meditation apps, and this is one that has kept me focused and on track with meditation (although I don’t adore it in every way). It’s focused on training your brain and practicing, and it’s kind and realistic in expectations… especially for us fidgety spazzes. I also love calm as a meditation app- super simple, free, with very short options.

Electronic Calendars (Google, Outlook, etc):  I love the calendar on my computer and phone, but it’s not for everyone. My hubby and I actually use outlook and google calendars to keep our obligations and kid/family activities on track… and it ‘usually’ works well for us.  It took a while to get in the groove for work and personal, but it’s saved us messing up several times.

Good Babysitters:  I cannot stress this one enough.  A good, honest, reliable, and available babysitter is priceless. Even if it’s just to spend 2 hours by yourself, an hour at dinner ALONE with your spouse, or to give you time to focus on applying for a job… GET a good sitter or two! Getting away from home and responsibility keeps us sane. Parenthood is beautiful and hard. Take a break when you need it.

*I would like to add that we are all very different.  What works for me might not work for you, but it might start giving you an idea that we ALL need help with different areas of our life.

If a part of your life or work is not working for you… consider finding a tool, book, or resource that could help.

Spending the time and energy to improve something that is overwhelming you will clear up time and energy for other parts of your life that need it… whether that’s your career search, your family, or your own personal time.

USE the tools that are out there- they are designed to help us!