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The Tech Revolution

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These applications, most of them free of charge, can make your business life easier by organizing and simplifying functions such as email, podcasts and note-taking

By Beatrice Paez | Mid-February 2017

Sorting through the large selection of apps available to make your professional life easier can be daunting. But the payoff for finding those that become almost daily tools when it comes to staying on top of your practice, can be significant.

Here's a selection of apps that can help you get - and keep - your professional digital life in order:

- IFTTT
Operating systems: Android, iOS
Cost: Free
https://ifttt.com/

"If This Then That," or IFTTT, lets you program specific functions tailored to your digital habits. Consider it a portable personal assistant that manages your life online - and offline.

IFTTT works something like an umbrella for other apps; it is integrated with more than 360 apps and mini-apps, known as "applets," which allows you to streamline functions even more than a typical app. For example, if you roll out newsletters on MailChimp and want to analyze the metrics, IFTTT can automatically compile the statistics into a Google spreadsheet and send an email report or share the performance summary with Slack, a team messaging system.

- SPARK
iOS, OSX / Free
https://sparkmailapp.com/

This email sorting system helps when a great volume of emails floods your inbox. Most email apps designed to reduce inbox clutter have three functions: archive, delete and flag.

Spark, with its minimalist aesthetic, is easy to navigate but has all the bells and whistles of most other systems that are not as streamlined. For example, you can postpone your responses to an email by hitting Spark's "snooze" button, which sets reminders for replying to messages. There's also a priority notification function that allows you to instruct the system to alert you to messages from an important source.

- PENULTIMATE
iOS / Free
https://evernote.com/penultimate/

Cursive lessons may have vanished from curriculums, but handwritten notes are still useful for capturing the gist of a message. Researchers also say taking notes by hand, instead of typing, makes for better memory retention. Penultimate, a digital sketchbook for capturing ideas on the go, puts the pen back in your hand when storing information electronically. Take it to your next client meeting: it will also allow you to do hand-drawn illustrations that explain difficult concepts.

- MINUTE
iOS, Android / Free
https://www.getminute.com/

This app helps you stick to the pre-set agenda in meetings. Minute helps you stay on task by laying out the decisions that need to be settled for projects in progress, so you don't neglect priorities. Under each action item, there's space to jot down the meeting minutes, which can then be shared with everyone on your team.

Beyond those core features, Minute syncs with your digital calendar and other cloud services, so you can access documents related to your meetings. Minute can also pool emails from all your accounts, so you can use it to sort and filter the hundreds of messages archived. It automatically separates direct correspondence from marketing campaigns and newsletters, so you can attend to personal emails first.

- OVERCAST
iOS / Free
https://overcast.fm/

The recent proliferation of podcasts has spawned a host of podcast-subscription apps designed to help you stay plugged in. Overcast stands out for its selection of podcast series, along with the ease of searching for new shows to subscribe to. Its collection of recommendations is organized by category - from business and science to comedy and the arts - so you can find podcasts based on your preference.

- POCKET CASTS
iOS, Android / $5.99
http://www.shiftyjelly.com/

If you are willing to pay for your app, Pocket Casts is a podcast player with a beautifully designed interface. Unlike Overcast, it lets you create customized episode filters to organize your subscriptions.

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