Technology Integration

8 Free Apps and Web Tools for Staying Organized in the New Year

The human brain can organize only so much data. Tools like 30/30, Pocket, and Sunrise can boost your ability to stay informed, connected, and on time.

January 5, 2015

The start of a new year is a great time to think back and reflect about what really worked for you and what isn't quite cutting it. When it comes to staying organized, there is no one-size-fits-all. It's really all about finding the system that works for you, picking apps or tools that you will actually use, and remembering that there are lots of options to choose from as you figure out the best fit.

As you sort through the following list, don't try them all out at once. Pick one or two, put them into practice for a month, and then reflect on how well something is helping you stay organized. You may choose to add that website or app to your tool belt as you explore another resource, or you may decide to scrap that tool and try out something completely new. Here are a few apps and web tools that might help you stay organized in the New Year.

30/30 (iOS - Free; upgrades available)

This super useful task manager is perfect for teachers with a long to-do list. Whether that list is totally professional or a mix of personal and work items, this app lets you color-code and assign icons to different tasks. All you have to do is open the app, assign how much time you want to spend on a particular item, and the countdown clock will start. It's great for staying focused on less exciting tasks and not getting caught up in others when there's a long list of things to do.

Google Docs (iOS, Android, Web Browser - Free)

Google Docs are one of my favorite tools for staying organized. You can work from a Chromebook, MacBook, iPhone, or tablet, and all of your documents will stay up to date. Not only is it great for collaborating (time that can be hard to schedule), but it also gives you the flexibility to work from lots of different devices and stay on task no matter what's thrown at you. You can access Google Docs from a web browser or a dedicated app like the ones revamped for iOS devices last year. There is the option to create and share folders, making it easy to find that document you're looking for.

Pocket (iOS, Android, Web Browser - Free; upgrades available)

I've shared the reasons for why Pocket is great for keeping track of your personal learning network (PLN). With this app and website, you can also bookmark different articles to keep them organized for easy reference. You can add tags to the articles you save so that they're easy to locate or refer back to. My inbox and Twitter feed are full of articles that I don't usually have time to "drop everything and read," even though I can't wait to check them out. When I finally get that free minute to sit and read, I can use a mobile device or web browser to access the whole list of articles.

Common Core (iOS, Android, Web Browser - Free)

Carrying around a binder full of photocopies or flipping through pages to find exactly what you're looking for can be frustrating and time consuming. The Common Core State Standards app by MasteryConnect lets you view the standards offline right on your mobile device. You can type in keywords and search through the standards or just tap on your screen to jump between different grades or areas of study. The official website of the CCSS also makes it easy to locate information and is a great alternative to searching through a pile of papers -- especially when you're on the go.

Sunrise (iOS, Android, Web Browser - Free)

Sunrise is a great alternative to the calendar apps you may be using, or a new one for those of you transferring your paper scheduling books to your mobile device. It has a clean and crisp interface that integrates with lots of different platforms including Google Calendar, iCloud on iOS devices, and Microsoft Outlook. Sunrise also connects with apps like LinkedIn and Facebook, integrating information for a unique experience.

And a Few More. . .

  • Here's a wonderful task manager that helps you keep up with your to-do list.
  • Dropbox: This cloud sharing service integrates with lots of different apps, helping your files stay organized.
  • Voxer: You can use this walkie-talkie app for connecting with your PLN or colleagues to quickly share information.

What's missing from this list? Add your favorite apps and web tools in the comments, or share a tip for staying organized this year!

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