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Friday, 17 July 2015

Enjoy the summer thanks to these free applications

There is a plethora of applications for your computer and mobile companions in today’s market. Just look around and you will find cool apps which will not only make your work easier, but also help you unwind after a hard day’s work. I have tried a lot of them, but these are my personal favorites. Enjoy the summer with these five tools.

Mapping out processes

Tired of creating lengthy analysis or tutorials? Go for Xmind. It's a very well done app that allows you to create mind maps quickly and easily. The free plan is limited with functions, but for your convenience and for a quick overview, it will certainly suffice. I personally use Xmind when I quickly want to map out a process and explain it visually to my colleagues. It’s sometimes much easier than just a list of things, as you can see how the processes are connected. Also, if your colleagues are not sure about something, it’s not a problem to reopen the finished map and quickly find and solve the problems ;-) There are of course paid versions. The highest one, Business, is better for teamwork as they can all share mind maps with others, even if they don’t work with you directly in the office. Unfortunately, Xmind is only available for desktops and laptops.

Share documents, images, etc.

Do you need a reliable storage of documents or even pictures? Then try Dropbox. Its’ popularity among users in the last year has risen so that even I could not resist and I had to try it. The indisputable advantage lies in the fact, that it can be installed across all your devices and as it’s in the cloud, all your data is readily available anywhere where you have Dropbox installed. Personally, I use a combination of laptop and cell phone. This way, I can finish whatever I’m working on, on the way home in the bus or train. With Dropbox, I can easily and quickly access the document and it’s automatically saved. Do you need a document or folder to share with others? There is nothing easier than to share with Dropbox – just send the folder to your colleague or friend and give them access to it so that they can edit or download it. That’s it;-)

Get musically inspired

Everybody likes music and it even has some benefits, which recent studies have confirmed. Put on some music that will help you work or relax, whichever one you’re doing. I recommend you to try Spotify, which I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about recently. When I tested Spotify, I realized you can either be an enthusiasts and will install it onto your notebook, tablet and/or cell phone, or you can be an occasional listener. Personally, after the first couple of days testing it, I joined the ranks of the enthusiasts. It’s really user-friendly and intuitive- you don’t have to be tech-savy to use it. There is a free version, which includes commercials, as well as a paid version (obviously without commercials). I use the free version, and although commercials is not something I enjoy, I've learned to ignore them. Besides that, the free version also has some other limitations, like not being able to freely switch between all types of music. Try it out for yourself though, you will see, it’s definitely worth it. ;-)

Keep your brain active

On the bus, train or during your lunch break: exercise your gray brain cells. Recently, when I was looking for an appropriate application that would help me develop my language skills in my spare time, I found Duolingo. I eagerly installed it onto my cell phone just to "see what happens." Many friends have recommended me this app so I wanted to try it for myself. After a few days, I have to admit they’re right- it’s a great tool, which helped me improve my Spanish. After the initial test, I started with a regular lesson, which is in the form of a game. So it was both fun, but helpful. Plus, the design is nice and easy, which always helps. Once you have the app downloaded, you will keep going back to it, because it’s great, plus it sends you reminders that you have not reached your daily goals. If you have the motivation and the time and determination, your language skills will improve greatly. Personally, I have to admit that I wasn’t so good at this, but just writing about it makes me want to go back to it. So hasta la vista ;-) 

Spend your time wisely

Have all these apps grabbed your interest, but you’re thinking, how will I ever manage all of this? Isn’t there a lot of time invested in this “fun” stuff and not enough into work? Well, there is only one way to find out- track your time to see how you spend your time. If you need to track your time in a team, but don’t want to spend a lot of money and resource, I would recommend you primaERP Time Tracking, an app which is also in the Cloud. It lets you easily create projects and activities (such as “using Duolingo”), which you can quickly track your time on. Plus, you can download the app and this way track your time wherever, whenever and on whatever you want, if you’re at the beach or on the way to a client. For me, I use it both for my work, as well as my free time. At the end of the week, I can then see what I spend my time on and how to improve it. Personally, that is what I need as my motivation is not always at its’ best ;-)

Do you have a tip for us?

So whether you are sitting at work or just going on vacation, equip your electronic companions with the right applications. If you have you tried any other apps you can’t live without, let us know! We always want to hear about new things :-)

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