How iPhone apps saved my sanity

During the day I figure I have to remember close to 17 trillion things. Between work, my to-do list, grocery lists, those things my husband mentions one time and then 3 months later asks me to recall… there is a lot of stuff rolling around in my head. And honestly, there just isn’t enough room in there. Enter technology. Now, if you know me, or if you have been reading this blog you know I am basically obsessed with technology. Why do something myself when there is an app that can do it for me? But what if I told you it wasn’t just for fun. What if I told you it could help keep you from losing your mind? Here is how simple, free apps have helped me to regain my sanity.

OneNote:

Up first is OneNote. Now, this is not just a phone app, but it is a lifesaver to also have it on my phone. In my life, if it isn’t in OneNote… it didn’t happen.

If you are not familiar with OneNote it is a free tool within the Microsoft Office Suite. It boasts that is is the “Digital note-taking app for your devices”, and really, that’s pretty much exactly what it is. Think of OneNote like the old 5-star notebooks we all used to love. It is a digital note-taking app that you can sync in the cloud and access on almost all your devices. It also comes with a number of additional features like to do lists including checkable boxes, tags, integration with other Microsoft products and developers are building new macros all the time.

I have 2 OneNote notebooks. A personal notebook and a work notebook. Inside each notebook you can have different sections, this is where the comparison to the 5-star notebooks come into play. Within each section you have pages, and pages can be indented to live under other pages. Here is an image I stole from the Microsoft blog that shows this a little clearer.

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I won’t go into my work notebook too much because it’s pretty specific to my job, but let’s take a look at my personal notebook.

Here are the sections I have in my notebook:

  • Inbox: Things I am working on right now
  • Templates: Things I make copies of and use over
    • Packing lists
    • Christmas gift tracking documents
  • Kiddos: All the things I need to remember for Blake
    • Doctors info
    • Milestones
    • Blog posts I want to keep
  • Other: Random things that don’t fit into another notebook
    • Rewards and frequent flier info
    • Essential oils info
  • Read/Keep/Do: All those magazine cutouts, blog posts, tips and tricks you want to do one day
  • Keep: Think of this as my digital keepsake box

You will see my sections are nothing special. Also, chances are 6 months from now they will be totally different. In my mind that is one of the best features of OneNote, it is very customizable. So in 2 months when I decide I need a section dedicated to my blog, I can easily do that and drag the things I need into it.

Maybe you bullet journal, maybe you have a great paper filing system, maybe you have a giant basket you throw things in and dread the day you have to clean it out… OneNote is all these things for me, and because I sync it in the cloud my notes are on my work computer, personal computer, iPad and phone – basically whenever I need them!

Reminders App:

I personally have an iPhone – so I use the built-in Reminders app, but this would work with any reminders app. I use it like digital post-it notes. If there is something quick I want to remember, I add it to my reminder list. Here are the reminder lists I have:

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Bucket List: this is a new list I just created. I keep seeing fun things people are doing and thinking “I want to do that” – and then promptly forgetting what it was 2 seconds later when I get distracted. So now I can add them to this list and when we decide to do on a date night with some friends we can just open this list and see all the things we have been wanting to try.

Grocery List: Some of these reminder lists are shared with Glenn, this is one of them. When we discover we need something the goal is to add it to this list. I will add… this is the GOAL, it doesn’t always happen. One thing that makes this a little easier is I have this list connected to our Amazon Alexa list. So when we are in the kitchen I can simply say “Alexa add milk to the shopping list” and she will add it to the Alexa Shopping list, which with then automatically add it to this grocery list.

Meals: As I talked about in this post, we try to meal plan each week. When we make our plan we put the meals on this list. Then at 2:00 when I realize I didn’t think about dinner at all I can just look at the list, see what we have groceries for and pick one.

Costco: Similar to the grocery list, this is our shopping list for Costco. I use IFTTT to connect the Alexa shopping list and our grocery list. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way yet (or at least not that I found) to sync custom Alexa lists and iPhone reminders, so we can’t have Alexa add items to this list, yet.

Glenn, Kristen and Both: These are our to-do lists. These are also shared so that I can put things on Glenn’s to do list and he can put things on mine. The “both” list is basically a list of adult things that one of us needs to do. Today it has things like clean vents, touch up paint and fix cushion. If anyone wants to try out our reminder list you are invited to come over and tackle one of these chores for us 🙂

Hardware Store: You guessed it, a shopping list for the hardware store

Gift Ideas: You know when you see something and think “I have to have that”. Then 3 months later before your birthday someone asks what you want and you don’t have a single idea. That is what is behind this list. If Glenn or I see something we would like we add it to the list.

Restaurants to Try and Movies: These lists are pretty self-explanatory. However, you may notice there isn’t a list of “books to read” – that isn’t because I have given up on reading completely. I actually recently started using Goodreads to track what books I have read and get suggestions for new books. I really love it! I try to read every day over lunch at work and I usually listen to audiobooks in the car. This is a great way to get suggestions.

Shared Calendars:

Again, I use the default iCloud calendar here but really any shared calendar app will work. For us, it is a lifesaver. Glenn and I both have lots going on outside of work. We need a calendar to remember everything. We also wanted a way to keep things separate. We tried a few different systems and in the end, the iCloud calendar was a great solution for us. We have 4 iCloud calendars: Birthdays and Holidays, Family, Glenn and Kristen.

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In addition to those Glenn and I both have a work calendar. We both have access to all 4 of those calendars. It is also really easy for us to change what calendar an event is on. Our calendars are pretty explanatory haha, so I won’t go into that.

Now there are a lot of other tools I use to make my life easier throughout the day, I will create some additional posts about those in the future, but these are the 3 basic starting apps that have made my life easier!

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