One of my goals (not projects or resolutions) for 2017 is to be more organised, balanced and clutter free. A big area of clutter in my life sits on my phone (and in my wallet – I have a receipt collecting problem) and this is the year that I’m going to clear out both.


Whether we like it or not, our phones are a huge part of our lives and with us almost 24/7. As much as I want to spend less time on my phone this year, I want to experiment if there is a way to turn that attachment into something positive.


Enter apps.


Apps are fantastic tools to help you achieve organisation. The problem is – there are too many to choose from and how do you know if you like one without trying it first? So you download it, hate it or can’t figure out how to work it and it just sits on your phone – creating clutter and eating your time.


With the intention of making your life easier by finding great apps to keep you organised (and an excuse to allot time to finding apps I’d actually like, need and use) I spent 2 days scrolling the apple store looking for apps in the areas listed below.


1. Fitness
2. Chronicling ideas in an easy to find way
3. Transferring images between your phone and computer easily
4. Blocking Social Media/ Distracting apps
5. Creating Grocery lists
6. Timing systems to help you focus on work
7. To do Lists
8. Saving Receipts


I downloaded them all, tested them all, signed up to so many different services (my poor inbox) and best of all – deleted the ones I disliked or found not user friendly enough.


I gave each app 30 to 60 seconds to impress me. If the signup process was too tedious. If the design was an eye store (I’m a design snob, sorry app recycle bin), If I couldn’t figure out how to work it, or if I felt it was so advanced that it actually made being organised more complicated, I tossed it.


What I’m left with is a folder on my home screen called productivity with one app for each category. I not only hope my app finds will help me this year, but that they will also be apps to keep you organised.


So without any further introduction, I present to you;


The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017


1. Fitness

Nike+ Training Club
The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: Yes – it links to your Nike+ account.
Cost: Free.


The purpose of a fitness app to me, is to be a personal trainer in my pocket. I want to tell an app what I want to work on and how often and not have to spend hours figuring out what workouts to do.


This area was easy because my chosen app is one I made use of for the majority of 2016. It’s amazing!


The Nike+ training club is a library of workout sessions that allows you to create your own plan. You choose a plan based on your activity levels, whether you have access to a gym or equipment or not and how often you want to train.


It spits out a weekly schedule showing you which workouts you should do on what day, including running (if you chose that option when you created your plan) and recovery days. The runs automatically link with Nike+ Running – if you use the app or watch.


You’re not tied into the order they say you should do it, so you can edit your week to what suits you.


When you click the selected workout, it will tell you the duration, what it’s good for, what equipment you require and the list of moves you will be doing.


Best thing about it, is when you click a move – a video auto plays showing a model (from all angles!) doing the move, which shows you how to do it.


Once you press start on the workout, a voice guides you through each session and the direction videos auto plays which allows you to glance at your screen as you go.

The workouts are either time or rep based. Timed workouts start you and end you with beeps but the rep based workouts require you to click the tick as you complete each set.


2. Chronicling ideas in an easy to find way

Microsoft OneNote
The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: Yes
Cost: Free. Signing up creates an account on Microsoft OneDrive which is where your notes are stored. The free basic plan comes with 5GB but you can upgrade.


I love notebooks but I have too many to count and no system for storing the useful things I write in them in an easy to chronicle way. Also, given the tech nature of our lives, lots of ideas stem from images or articles you see online. Short of printing your inspiration and sticking it in a scrapbook (like some of us-  myself –  used to with outfit ideas long before Pinterest came around).  I was looking for an app that would allow me to do this with text, images or voice notes.


There are a ton of apps in this area which make choosing difficult and a few came close to being my pick.


Ultimately I chose Microsoft OneNote because it allowed me to do all I was looking for, has a clean look, was easy to operate and you can email your notes.


3. Transferring images between your phone and your computer easily

The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: Yes
Cost: Free. The app is free and your free plan comes with 2GB of space. When you’ve used up your space your files won’t be able to sync until you remove files or upgrade. You can upgrade to pro which gives you 1TB of space for $99/year (That’s R 1339.70 at today’s exchange rate.)


I want to be able to pull up documents/ pictures from my computer and to transfer pictures I take on my phone to my computer. I don’t want it to happen automatically so I can control that I do this when I’m in a wifi zone and only when needed.


Dropbox is a tool that I’ve been using for years. When you sign up for an account and install the software on your computer, it creates a special dropbox folder on your computer that syncs with an online backup and if you have the app on your phone, you can access everything inside that dropbox folder on your computer. Because it automatically syncs to the web backup you know your files are safe and accessible from any computer.


4. Blocking Social Media/ Distracting apps

The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: Yes
Cost: Free with limitations. A subscription costs $1.99 per month (R26.85)


I decided to look for an app that would be able to stop me from getting distracted when I lack self-control. You know when you need to do that pesky task but don’t want to and you reach for your phone, opening anything and everything. Next thing you know an hour has passed.

You’re never going to get that hour back.


This was the hardest app to find. OurPact which is actually an app to give parents remote control over their kid’s phones worked the best. The problem is, because you’re blocking yourself, it’s best to operate it from their website.


Once you hit the block buttons, any social media/web type app disappears from your phone screen. This included facebook, twitter, Instagram, safari, whatsapp, google, Wikipedia, IMDB, Facetime and OurPack. So if you operate it from your phone, make sure you selected a time schedule instead of “until I say so”.


It disturbed me giving a third party app remote access to control my phone and the thing I hated most about it is when you press the grant button and your apps reappear, the order rearranges.


In the end I decided to delete it from my phone and exercise Pomodrone (See no. 6) to help me with self-control. Those with extreme phone addiction might want to give it a try.



5. Creating Grocery lists

The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: Yes
Cost: Free with limitations. The free version allows you to work in lists and save only 5 recipes with limited features. It doesn’t give you access to meal planning. R129.99 gives you 1 year’s access to all features. R179.99 gives you 1 year’s access on a family plan, allowing your family to benefit from all features. The family plan covers anyone who resides in your household so whether that is 2 or 10 people you won’t be hit with a fixed limit.


A smart grocery list is one in which you can add items as you remember you need them, no matter where you are. I want items to be organised into sections and I want it to integrate with recipes. What if you find a great recipe on Nutreats (that’s a real scenario if you click here) and you want to add the items to your shopping list?


AnyList was a fantastic find and way smarter than what I thought I was looking for. It has a list section, a recipe section and a meal plan section.


In lists you can create different lists and choose whether you want the list to be categorized or not. If you do, each item you add will sort itself into sections like Beverages, dairy etc. which is very useful when you’re in a store.


Lists can be emailed, printed or shared with family members if they have the app. If they do, they can edit the list or add to it and it will update on both your devices.


In recipes you can manually create a recipe, or use their recipe web browser to open up your new found recipe with its web address. Once you’re on the recipe page, you hit the import button and it pulls out the recipe, a reference picture, the ingredients, the instructions and any notes about it. You can then select your ingredients (the ones you don’t have in your kitchen already) and add them to a list.


There are tons of added features if you upgrade. You can assign filter’s to item i.e. store name so that you can filter your list depending what store you are in. You can also add a photo so the person shopping knows what the item you specifically want looks like. You can also create location based reminders so that when you’re in or near a store it will remind you to pick something up.



6. Timing systems to help you focus on work

The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: No
Cost: Free. Upgrading gives you extra features like analysis and customising your timer.


A huge part of being more organized is getting more done by being more functional with your time. I want to get into a good healthy work zone. Some days I have laser focus and some days I struggle. I was looking for a timing system to filter between work and break time.


Pomodrone is a very simple app that uses a tried and tested time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo. It works on the premise that if you combine relatively short periods of uninterrupted and focused work with frequent breaks you can maximise the amount of time you remain focused and your overall productivity.


The system works on 4 short 25 minute work spurts with 5 minute breaks in between. Once you’ve finished 4 cycles, you get a longer 20 minute break.

The app is a simple timer. You pick which cycle you are doing and press play.



7. To do Lists

The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: No
Cost: Free. When you go into settings it asks you if you want to upgrade to pro for unlimited tasks, lists and ad removal. The button doesn’t work and there are no ads displaying so from what I can see there are no limitations on the free version.


I was looking for a very simple to do list. I use productivity scheduling sites like Asana and Trello but I still write to dos on scraps of paper which are hard to keep track of.


TaskDone allows you add tasks and date them.  It stores them in a today, tomorrow and chaos section. Chaos is for undated or dates that are not today and tomorrow.


You can also create your own lists, add notifications to tasks or an image.

TaskDone appears to be an old app that hasn’t been updated in a while but it works for what I was looking for.


8. Saving Receipts

Receipts by Wave
The best Apps to keep you organised in 2017
Sign up required: Yes
Cost: Free. Still waiting for a just kidding notification or storage limit exceeded message…


As I mentioned in the intro, I’m a bit of a receipt hoarder. I keep them but then do nothing with them. I was looking for an app to help me save and categorise. Honestly, I don’t know what I will do with them digitally either, but they’ll at least be organised?


Receipts by Wave is kind of brilliant. You can create a business and a personal folder. Once you’re in your folder you click the plus icon which takes you directly to your camera, you take a quick snap of your invoice, upload the receipt, it tells you when your upload is successful (a few seconds) and then it starts to process it. If you exit the app you will receive a notification when it has been processed (a few minutes) and you can verify. Verifying lets you change any details that may have scanned wrong, as well as categorise the expense.


It all links and automatically syncs to your online Wave account, where you can do a whole bunch of accounting type tasks with that info. Update 2017.06.22: If you want to know more about those, read this great review I just came across.

My personal favourite is their awesome terms of use page.


So there you have it, my 8 top apps to keep you organised in 2017. It was exhausting and I have app fatigue but I’m really excited to see if they work for me. I’ll check back in on December 31 😉


What are your top apps to keep your organised? Share in the comments.

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