10 Things Tuesday: The Programs/Aps that Make Life Easier

Written by Cilla

I love organization. I know my husband is saying “um…really?” right now, but it’s true…I do. I have trouble STAYING organized. The system has to really work with my personality or it just…well, doesn’t work. Even though I’m not good at staying organized, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I truly LOVE organization and especially LOVE any program, ap, website that makes it easy for me to STAY organized in one aspect or another. In comes all of my favorite programs and/or aps that make my life just a little easier or just make me down right happy. Now…I hope that these can bring a little joy and organization to your life!

1. Gmail– Oh Gmail, how I love you. You will notice quite a few Google programs/sites listed. Google in general makes my life easier. Any time I have a question that needs to be answered, I turn to Google. I always say that Google has the answer to everything. The meaning of life? No problem. HERE’s the answer to that.

Now for Gmail specifically. There are many ways that Gmail makes my life easier.

* Email- I have my old yahoo email, my business email, and my regular gmail email all in one place. I can choose which address I want to send an email from, depending on the particular email. I can create separate folders (or as Gmail calls them “labels”) and subfolders. I can set “filters” which will filter through my emails as they come in and do whatever I want with them. For instance, when someone registers on my ordering system, I get an email with their contact info. Those emails automatically get a specific “label” (aka folder) assignment. Anytime I get an email that mentions phone call, it gets the “phone call” label so I can see exactly who I need to call.

Let’s not forget that I have Gmail set up with my iPhone and instantly get email on my phone (which, I know is not specific to Gmail…but still very cool).

* Contacts- Perhaps my favorite part. I have my Gmail contacts set up with my iPhone. When I add a contact to my Gmail contacts, it syncs up with my phone. When I need to find where a client lives, I simply go to my contacts on my phone, click their name, click their address, and Google Maps pulls up on my phone and shows me where they live. I can then click directions to find my way.

2. Google Reader– Okay…I may be a little obsessed with blogs. Do they make an 8 step program for that? I don’t read them every single day. A lot of times…more times than I would like to admit…I just look at the pictures. I seriously follow so many blogs that if I spent time reading each and every one, I would not accomplish anything. I may enjoy it, but I would definitely regret it later. Yes…kinda like having one too many glasses of wine.

To keep the hundreds (yes…you read that correctly…hundreds) of blogs I follow all nice and organized, I use Google Reader. I can put each blog into a category. When I’m in the mood for “home making” blogs (which are probably my favorites), all I have to do is click the “home making” category and all the new blog entries in that category will show up for me to flip through. I can also star, like, and categorize blog posts. So all those posts that I love and may revisit, I put into categories to find quickly…sorta. The whole “quickly” thing is up for debate when you have so many entries in a category and have to scroll forever. Of course, you can do a search, but I can never find what I need that way.

3. Google Calendar– Looking at my calendar you would probably think I had a major type A personality. Everything is color coded. I have a ton of different calendars (sessions, business meetings, Baby Baierlein, friends and family, etc.) all with different colors. The calendar automatically syncs up with my phone. I also share those calendars with Bret and Bret shares his with me. Then we can see what we both have going on any given day. I imagine that one day we’ll have lots of kiddo activities as well:)

4. iDeskCal– This kinda goes along with Google Calendar. This is an Apple ap for my computer. It shows my calendar right on my desktop. The best thing about this is that I have a calendar that I call “workflow” which I have showing on my iDeskCal so I can see what tasks I’m suppose to be working on at each point in the day. Now…this would be wonderful if I could just operate that way. The photographer ADD can prevent that from time to time.

5. Pinterest– (aka…my newest love…if I could kiss it, I totally would) I think the thing that fuels my love for blogs is my desire to be constantly inspired. I have inspiration boards in my office that are filled with cards, notes, quotes, pictures, and anything else that may inspire me in a day. That’s what blogs do for me. They inspire me in one way or another. Pinterest joins my love for inspiration boards and love for blogs all in one. Let’s see…the best way to explain this…hhhhmmmm. When you first join Pinterest (which you have to have an invitation to do), you set up “boards”. Which are basically online versions of inspiration boards you may have up on your wall in your office or at home. Then you can search through and see images from all over the web (blogs, sites, google, etc.). Then you just “pin” (just like you would pin an image that inspires you to your inspiration board in your office) anything that you like…or I guess dislike if you wanted. It’s wonderful if you have a specific project (like say a baby boys nursery) you’re working on and looking for inspiration. I swear…it’s like online crack…but not as dangerous…if there were a such thing as online crack.

6. Evernote– I first read about Evernote while reading one of my most favorite blogs (Styleberry). It’s so perfect for that little bitty type A part of my personality. It’s a program on my computer which I can create different “notes”. I can copy articles from websites and enter into those “notes” just by right-clicking and choosing “copy to Evernote”. Then I can keep all of my research, all of my inspiration, for any given project, all in one spot. It was the perfect place to store all of my research on Washington, DC when I was planning a trip. I have carried over my favorite nursery images from Pinterest into a nursery note. My most favorite part of Evernote is that you can create check boxes, which really come in handy for lists. Oh how I love to check things off of lists. The two “notes” I use the most are my “to do list” and my “sessions to edit list”. Those are always open on my computer to quickly see and…on my good days…check lots of things off of.

Another great thing about Evernote…there’s an ap for that! That’s right. I can access all of my notes no matter where I’m at.

7. Live Drive– One of the most important parts of my workflow as a photographer is backing up my images. Having an online back up is critical in case something were to happen to my home and/or office. In comes Live Drive to the rescue. The things I love about Live Drive…

* I can set automatic back ups. I only do this with the folders that will have less files in them since it will take a while to back up. So I use this for my personal images, my iTunes files, and business documents.

* Then you have the option to have a “briefcase” on your computer. The briefcase acts just like a file or drive and automatically backs up online. You can download that drive onto any computer that has Live Drive.

* You can also access all your back up files and your briefcase files on your own Live Drive site.

All of this allows me to not only back up files and access them any where, but also to share those with others. For instance, we have an OCRO folder on my briefcase. Each girl has the briefcase loaded onto their computers where we can all share files with each other.

8. Tweetdeck– Have too many social network sites to update and keep up with? Tweetdeck can combine those for you! I can keep up with Twitter and Facebook all in one place, update my status for each at the same time…including multiple accounts. So, I go into Tweetdeck when I want to update my status, then choose which accounts I want to update, then type my update and post. It automatically will post to the accounts I chose! Easy peasy. Oh…and there’s an ap for that! I will have to say one almost negative thing about the ap (which may have been updated, but I haven’t loaded updates in a while). The ap doesn’t allow you to update multiple accounts. You can update Facebook and Twitter at the same time, but not multiple accounts on either.

9. iTunes– Really…do I even need to say anything about this? Where would I be without my music!?! I love having it on my computer and my phone. I love all my play lists. I love that Bret and I can share with his iPod and my iPhone. It just makes me happy to listen to my pretty music and be able to make lots of different ring tones!

10. Fandango– So, this isn’t one I use as often as I wish I did, but I love it none-the-less. I absolutely adore going to the movie theater. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Even better when I get to see multiple movies in one day! Fandango allows you to purchase tickets ahead of time. No risk of the movie being sold out and no need to wait in lines. Guess what…there’s an ap for that!!!! Too much? Too cheesy?


kate - June 1, 2011 - 3:21 pm

Great post! I just took advantage of every.single.thing. you mentioned about Gmail – I didn’t even know any of that and it’s going to help me out a ton!

Your neighbor Maggie - May 24, 2011 - 9:46 am


A few things:

1. Love this post.
2. My new favorite wedding/engagement/southern blog: Southern Aisle; http://www.southernaisle.com. Written by a classmate of mine from KU and coincidentally lived in Washington, DC while I was there.
3. Have you heard of this? http://www.twobrightlights.com. I love it when there is streamlining of processes too and this site aids wedding photographers in getting their art out! [clause: I know you are no longer doing weddings… boo]
4. My former roommate from DC invited me to Pineterest the other day. She said there so many images that reminded her of me that I had to jump on board. With your glowing review, I now must check it out.

Thanks for always being an inspiration. Back to work…

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