There are arguments both for and against our need for more technology and more productivity and more apps to track every little detail of our businesses. I mean, who doesn’t need just one more app on their smartphone? I would love to see by a show of hands the number of real estate investors who would pass up on just one more app if they thought it could truly make their business life easier. Most of us would agree that technology and the all of the devices and apps have been both a blessing and a curse in our home and business lives.
One one hand, we see claims of how distracted we become with our vast numbers of technological gizmos and gadgets. On the other hand, while it’s true that unregulated use of our smartphones can lead to sinking far too much time into Facebook and creating undue (and sometimes dangerous) distractions, there’s no doubt that responsible use of our digital devices can go a long way in increasing productivity.
Real estate apps for our smartphones have come a long way, and many have nothing to so with real estate at all! Yet they are very important to us. Here are just a few productivity apps that may just help you stay on task this year.
Now, before I actually throw the list our there, I do want to add a little side note on what you will not find on the list. Forget Twitterbook, Instafeed, Awesahouse and Facegram because none of them are going to do you any good with your day to day business and your ability to function as a professional. (Yes, I know that none of those are real websites!)
I personally deleted my Facebook account, even though I used is 90% of the time for business — and my business has not skipped a beat. Does it mean I have a little less of a footprint in the digital world? Maybe. But I did not miss the 500 birthday messages (the ones that count sent me personal best wishes), and I found an extra hour a day and new uses for my smartphone. That hour and those uses (called productivity apps), however, have had a great impact on my business and helped it skip a few beats ahead.
Read about the apps below, and maybe try one of two on for size. You may find one or more that allow you to move your real estate investing business ahead and make your life simpler and more productive!
12 Productivity Apps for Your Smartphone
For: Android, iOS
This is an awesome app and has simplified our renovations and management companies to the point where we wonder how we accomplished so much before getting this app!
It is amazing for project organization and collaboration between team members. Tasks can be assigned and tracked, and accountability is right there in front of everyone to see. It has many more features that are unlocked with the paid version, but if you want to manage your projects smarter and hold your team members to a higher level of accountability, this is the app to install. Get all of your contractors onto the app (it allows up to 15 in the free version), and get your projects organized to save money, finish quicker and turn you into the smartest real estate you know. (I can’t guarantee that will happen, but you should be happier anyway!)
For: Android, iOS
Price: Free, yearly subscription available
This digital assistant is difficult to describe, but it can literally do anything you want it to do, and it does them automatically. That can make it a little clunky at first, but once you get going… look out. EasilyDo does things seamlessly, like automatically add new contacts to your address book, write “Happy Birthday” posts for Facebook friends (that way you do not waste your time doing this useless task!), keep track of your packages via tracking numbers and give you updates. It can send alerts to your appointments if you are running late and alert your spouse to know what time you will arrive home for dinner! It can also automatically message friends and family when you’re going to be working late, and plenty more. It’s really like your very own assistant, and definitely worth a try.
3. GoogleDocs & GoogleDrive
For: Android, iOS, Web
If you haven’t delved into the world of GoogleDrive and GoogleDocs, you don’t know what you’re missing. These are GREAT apps for keeping your business straight and allowing team members, assistants and even spouses help keep the business running smoothly and efficiently without having to constantly meet or exchange paper. Drive is cloud-based storage, while Docs acts like an online iteration of Microsoft Office. You can share documents, edit them with multiple contributors in real time, share them with various privacy settings, and keep all of your files organized and easy-to-find.
You can use these programs to communicate with real estate agents, brokers, insurance agents, closing attorneys, assistants, etc. Every person on your team can be in on your business based on what you share with them, and everyone can be kept up to date in real time as you are in the field doing your business.
For: Android, iOS
So listen, before you laugh this one off think about this: You only have one life to live, and if you spend that time punishing your body by always striving to get ahead, then what are you trying to get ahead for? You have to take time to keep yourself physically fit, not like superman shape, but just in good enough physical shape where you don’t feel like you are going to pass out walking up the stairs on a two story house!
This app is great for folks of any fitness level, allowing for customized intensity levels both in the short, 7-minute variety, as well as longer workouts. Don’t neglect your body and health. You can spare 7-minutes to get in better shape, no matter how busy you are. I have been known to do one of these workouts in the living room of a house we are looking to buy (vacant, of course!), if that is where I was when my alarm told me it was time for a workout!
For: Android, iOS
This is my favorite home search app because of its ease of use and easy-to-read screen shots and graphics. Also, and I’m sure other apps do this as well, you can stand in one spot and tell it to let you know what is for sale around you. You can tell it to let you know where nearby open houses are. You can search like-priced homes, condos, buildings and enter keywords like foreclosure to see what listings use those words. There are a ton of apps that share these features, but I am partial to this one.
Timeful is great for finding time to squeeze in tasks that are desired but not required in your day. It’s to help enable you do the things you want without forgoing the must-dos on your list. Timeful adapts to your patterns over time by paying attention to when you’re most likely to complete tasks, making it a very customized experience. Like some of the other apps, it can take some getting used to, but if you use it continuously, it can become a very helpful app for finding time gaps to get those not-so-important tasks done!
On the go and remember something you need to know for later? Whether it’s a sudden epiphany or an important conversation, Captio is easier than hunting down pen and paper. All you do is open the app, jot down some notes and send. Captio dispatches an email with your message directly to you so you won’t forget.
I love Evernote and and use it every day. However, Evernote is not always the best option for making quick notes and getting reminders. I also like using the pre-installed notes program on Mac computer and Apple phones, but that app has limitations and does not send auto-emails. So I like to use Captio to take notes on houses or streets or even just quick ideas I have for the business.
For: Android, iOS
This is for the person who only views email two to three times a day and only responds once a day. Why? Because it is a great way to streamline Gmail and iCloud into one app for quick, easy viewing. This is not a great tool for responding, but it will learn your patterns and prioritize your email based on your actions. It will mute some until late in the day and move important emails to the top of the list. You have to have Gmail or iCloud for it to work, but I love the app because it encourages me not to get drowned by the constant need to interact with email.
For: iOS, Mac
Price: 14-Day Trial on Mac, $19.99 — $79.99
While this app is pricey, many regard is as one of the best productivity tools out there. This “task management platform” is renowned for its robust features that help manage the work-life balance, keep track of goals, and leave time for R&R. It’s hard to encapsulate all that this app does in writing — so check it out for yourself!
The great thing is that you can get a 14 day free trial, and that is just enough time to form a habit. You may end up loving it and justifying the price by realizing you have to have it!
For: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac, Google Chrome, Web
I already said in the Captio notes that I love using Evernote. Evernote is an oldie but a goodie. I use it on a daily basis in every meeting, and I have a page of notes for each day. This app allows you to catalog anything and everything you want to remember. Notes, websites, references, photos, PDFs, to-lists, you name it. The app automatically indexes what you add, making everything easily found. It also includes a chat function for your colleagues, allowing for real-time note-taking during your collaborations.
This is one of those apps that I say is an absolute must and I think you should update to the paid version for sure. If you are one to catalogue what you are doing and talking about each day, who you meet with and the results of those meetings — plus, you like to look back and review for compare and contrast — then this app is for you.
11. Cloud Magic
For: Android, iOS
I don’t use this app; let me state that up front because I use another email app. However, this one is a great app for those who don’t use Gmail or iCloud, even though this one works with both. It also works with other mail programs and iMap accounts so you can use this app with just about any email address. What makes it really cool is that you can forward the emails to other apps like Zendesk or other collaboration websites where you might have team members waiting for instructions on projects. This lets you collaborate and share to those sites and apps, which is a great function for saving time and communicating effectively.
For: iOS, Mac
Make a to-do list, seamlessly reorder tasks and clear them with the simple swipe of a finger, set up reminders, and stay organized. Clear is an aesthetically pleasing, streamlined way to keep track of your tasks. What more can I say? It is an easy-to-use, easy-to-view app that does not need a lot of buttons and switches. It does exactly what it was designed to do. It allows you to clear your tasks and your schedule as you accomplish them.
What productivity apps have you found most useful?
Share your recommendations in the comments.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.