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Get Organized Toolkit: apps to make the most of your time

Want to rid your world of chaos? These apps can get your life in order

Being organized used to involve piles of paper – or a very good memory. Now, you can largely rely on your iPhone or iPad – that is, if you have the right apps and approach.

In this Toolkit, we look into how to bring order to your life, and thereby spend your time doing more important things than busywork.

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Todoist can help you organize – but first decide what in your life needs more order.

Prioritize organization: Figure out what most needs more order in your life and start from there. Perhaps that’s your schedule, or sifting through ideas for projects. Once you have a handle on that first thing, move on to the next.

Ditch what’s ineffective: Don’t feel the need to stick with a methodology, app or service indefinitely. If something isn’t working, try something else. Aim to keep organization low-friction and don’t have busywork eat into your day.

Prize availability: Ensure vital apps, services and data are always readily available, in case you need to refer to them. Consider built-in Apple apps and services where possible, unless you’ve a good reason not to. Sync data to the cloud.

MindNode’s iCloud sync means you can get at your mind maps from anywhere.

Put what’s vital front and center: Unless your memory is perfect, keep the most important pieces of information in plain sight. On your devices, use widgets to put such things directly on your main Home Screen.

Use notifications wisely: Reminders are useful – but not if they are a barrage of noise you then tune out or ignore. Be selective with them to ensure they help you stay organized rather than just add to your stress levels.

File with care: Search can sometimes help you get at misplaced documents and data, but it’s better to not lose such things in the first place. So fashion simple filing systems and stick to them.

Download these apps

Evernote (free + subscription): Stash everything from notes and lists to images and bookmarks in this app – but you’ll need a subscription to sync across multiple devices.

Reeder ($4.99/£4.49): Take control of online reading by following sources in Reeder, or sharing individual web pages to the app, which can then be tagged and sorted.

Reeder 5 is ideal for organizing online reading.

Todoist (free or subscription): Plan and collaborate on projects small and large with this excellent to-do manager, which is feature-rich even in its entry-level free tier.

Widget Wizard (free + IAP): Put your upcoming Calendar events right on your Home Screen with this app’s Agenda widget, to stay organized throughout the day.

Countdowns (free): Track any upcoming important event like an anniversary by way of a custom countdown – and put it on your Home Screen so you don’t forget.

MindNode ($2.99/£2.49 per month): Make sense of complex ideas by setting them in outline form – or exploding them into a fully editable and customizable mind map.

Adobe Scan (free): Rid your life of paper by turning physical documents into digital ones (with fully searchable text) that can then be filed away.

BFT ($1.99/£1.79): Use this timer to break the day into work/rest sprints, thereby bringing structure and focus to your work time.

A timer like BFT can help organize your day into efficient work sprints.

Streaks ($4.99/£4.49): Define and track habits to infuse into – or remove from – your life. Formalizing the process makes habits more likely to stick.

Trello (free): Keep on top of projects – whether working alone or with others – by way of this efficient and usable tracking app.

Connect this hardware

Adonit Mini 4 ($19.99/£24.99): You might not think you need a stylus for your iPhone, but you’ll be glad of this one when ticking off to-dos or fashioning mind maps in MindNode.

IKEA Bergenes phone stand ($2.99/£2): When working on other devices, this stand is an affordable way to use your iPhone as a timer or calendar. In safe environments, consider disabling the screen lock in Settings.

Apple’s iPad keyboard is expensive but will help you stay organized.

Apple Magic keyboard ($299/£279): It’s expensive, but you’ll be glad of Apple’s premium keyboard/trackpad when you hit a bout of organization that requires a slew of text input.

Apple Pencil ($129/£119): You want to save time, not waste time, when organizing. Apple’s stylus is a boon when arranging tasks and drawing mind maps.