Your smartphone doesn’t have to be a total time suck.
Being a whiz in the workplace doesn’t mean all three-martini lunches all the time (actually, three-lunch martinis are pretty much always a terrible idea; don’t let the ad bros tell you otherwise). Lurking just beneath the rush of getting to be your brilliant entrepreneurial self or perfectly executing a plan you came up with in the office is all that not-so-glowing stuff—y’know, like wrestling with that six-month backlog of expenses or confronting the fact that you spent 45 minutes straight on Twitter without blinking when you should have been researching.
Lucky for us all, the very things that distract us (aka our smartphones) can also help set us free. Below, we’ve compiled five easy-to-use apps that will help you manage your time and finances so that you can spend your energy and money doing what you do best:
According to a 2016 study from the National Institute on Retirement Security, women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished in retirement. There are myriad factors at play, but one of the big ones? Women aren’t offered the same resources and education as men when it comes to protecting and growing their finances. So where to begin? Acorns may be the easiest first step out there: It takes transactions from your credit or debit cards and rounds it up to the nearest dollar. Once your spare change hits over $5, it puts it in an investment portfolio for you. You can choose to invest more if you’d like, and there are options to customize your portfolio, but if you don’t want to do anything at all, there’s that option, too; Acorns will keep setting aside money for you and over time, you’ll start to see returns on spare change you would’ve otherwise lost in the dryer.
Back in the ‘90s, entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo’s secret to success was a tomato-shaped timer; he would set it and work without distraction for a consistent period of time (say, 25 minutes), take a 5 minute break, and then repeat this cycle four times before taking a 15-20 minute break. This eventually became known as the Pomodoro Technique, and this low-tech, uncomplicated method is thought to increase productivity and motivation. Nowadays, you can just download an app–formerly called “Pomodoro Time”–rather than physically set a tomato timer, but the idea remains the same.
If your weakness for piddling time away on Instagram is a little more than a fruit-shaped timer can handle, you may fare better with something slightly more disciplinarian: RescueTime allows you to designate varying blocks of time to different tasks, evaluates whether you should be designating more time for certain things, and even blocks websites that you feel are distracting (goodbye, Facebook-comment rabbit holes). Basically, it’s like a work nanny for grown ups. RescueTime Lite is free, and the premium version (which includes website-blocking and offline capabilities) is $72 a year or $9 a month.
You know what’s scary? The IRS. But the days of carting a shoebox full of receipts into a CPA, crossing your fingers that everything pencils out, and hoping you don’t get audited, are over. Freshbooks lets you create and check on invoices, track expenses and payments, generate reports, and track labor all from an easy-to-use app.
Get closer to that ever-elusive “inbox zero” with team-messaging app Slack. Their tagline is “Be less busy,” and who doesn’t want that? The idea is that the fast-paced, sleek exchange of messages via Slack cuts down on email back-and-forth; some companies have reported that they’ve replaced email with Slack altogether. For budding endeavors, the free version can be used indefinitely and comes with GB of storage, integration with 10 apps, and message searching for the most recent 10,000 messages.