Apps for a better work-life balance
Tech to help you manage a busy lifestyle
Tech entrepreneur and busy father Stuart Miles shares the apps that help him manage his work-life balance – from scheduling time off to communicating with his team.
Technological advances mean we’re now more connected than ever before – from answering emails while commuting to messaging friends on social media, we’re very much ‘always on’.
But, while this always-connected lifestyle can feel stressful, technology can also be part of the solution.
Entrepreneur Stuart Miles knows all about a busy lifestyle. The founder of leading technology website Pocket-lint has 3 children – aged 5, 9 and 11 – and says he relies on technology to help organise his work and home life.
Here’s Stuart’s pick of the top apps he uses to make the most of his time and keep his business running smoothly.
1. For busy schedules: Todoist
From online calendars to birthday reminders, technology is rapidly taking over the traditional wall planner. And one of the most useful apps in this space is Todoist – a productivity helper that lends a hand with everything from to-do lists to task management. You simply create a project, and then add tasks to it and share it with your workmates or family members. And, because it saves everything to the cloud, it’s always up to date.
“It’s quick because it understands how people talk,” Stuart says. “I can type ‘Meeting at 2pm’ or ‘Kids swimming every Thursday at 4pm’, and it schedules that time in the calendar. You can also share projects, so workmates and family members all know the schedule.”
The app works across smartphones, tablets and desktop computers with a free version and a premium version.
2. For communicating: Skype
“When it comes to project management and communication, I rely on tools like Skype to keep in touch with my team,” Stuart says.
Skype – the well-known calling and messaging app – is also a useful tool, and there’s a reason why it’s so popular. The free app can do everything from video calls to screen sharing, and means you can stay in touch with workmates, clients or family members from a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
3. For tracking projects and workflow: Jira
Jira is straightforward software that helps to organise the overall running of a business, Stuart says. The software helps you track project status, transitions and resolutions – and can be customised for your specific business needs.
“We use Jira software because it’s got strong collaboration capabilities, allowing team members to see up-to-the-minute status of each project,” Stuart says. “The issue and project-tracking software is great to use, and keeps us on track with each of our projects.”
With Jira, each hour of time can be tracked and represented in charts to give you an overview of multiple projects at a glance. There are different pricing plans for different sized businesses, and you can give it a go with a free trial.
4. For storing, sharing and collaborating on files: Dropbox and Barclays Cloud It
Paperwork piling up, or looking for an easy way to access important documents remotely? Consider a cloud-based alternative.
Dropbox is a great app for sharing and collaborating on documents with others, Stuart says.
“I use Dropbox for everything from receipts through to photos and contracts,” Stuart says. “It’s also great for having documents that multiple people on my team can access.”
Dropbox brings your files together in one place so they’re easy to find, and synced across all of your devices. To use the app, you simply scan or take a photo of a document which the app then tidies up by cropping, removing shadows, adjusting the contrast and saving it to a folder on the cloud. You can then mark up the documents and share them with others.
And here’s one from us: Barclays Cloud It. Our secure tool – accessed through Online Banking or Barclays Mobile Banking – can help you store a copy of your important documents safely. If you’re planning a holiday, consider storing a digital version of your family’s passports, tickets and travel insurance. It’s also a great place to store a copy of key information such as immunisations, life insurance and birth certificates.
5. For creating and managing invoices on the go: Pingit
Here’s another one from us: Pingit.
You can create, send and track invoices all from Pingit – our tool that works via an app on your mobile. It’s secure, quick and free to use.
By simply tapping in your customer’s mobile number and a couple of details, such as the invoice number, billing amount and payment date, you can create an invoice to send via email. There’s no contract or monthly fee, and you’re even protected from fraudulent payments.
Customers can also pay you back straight away on Pingit using your mobile number.
To use Pingit for business you’ll need a UK mobile number and a business bank account with us1.
6. For wellbeing and managing stress: Breathe and Headspace
Running a business can be stressful, and it’s important to make time for a breather, Stuart says. A rise in wellness technology – including meditation apps – is a quick and useful way to stay fresh. Plus, studies show that mindfulness in the workplace can lead to higher productivity, stronger focus and a better ability to handle stress2.
Stuart says mindfulness app Breathe, an in-built app on his Apple Watch, is a great tool.
“It’s a mini-meditation app, which gets you to focus on your breathing for just a minute or 2. That’s all, but you can really feel the difference after, and medical studies show these micro-sessions can have a good effect.”
Alternatively, Headspace – a meditation app that gives short, guided meditation sessions – is great if you need a bit of a break. It’s available on Android and iOS, and includes a free basic pack with a 10-day beginner’s course to guide you through the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.
7. For your finances: Barclays Mobile Banking
Here’s another one from us: you can now save time in more ways with Barclays Mobile Banking, by using voice-activation assistant Siri. Using your voice to pay contacts is secure, quick and easy – and means you don’t even have to open the app.
If you use Barclays Mobile Banking with an iPhone operating on iOS103 and above with Touch ID, you can use your voice to ask Siri to pay an existing payee or mobile contact, and then authenticate the transaction with your fingerprint.
Along with the ability to manage your money on the go, Barclays Mobile Banking also lets you freeze lost cards, cancel Direct Debits and even video call us.
You can also track your rewards with the Premier Rewards app, with everything from discounts at more than 6,500 UK restaurants with the Gourmet Society to free entry at over 280 English Heritage sites.
8. For upskilling: Barclays Digital Wings
Up to speed with the latest social media tools for your business? Know how to protect yourself – and your business – from cyber attacks? Or simply want to learn more about CRM and cloud computing?
Here’s one from us: Barclays Digital Wings.
This tool includes quizzes, themed modules and interactive articles to help you learn about everything from Blockchain to e-commerce and big data, so you can take your business to the next level.
Our topics are specially developed with IT experts, including IBM and Microsoft, to bring together a bank of knowledge.
You could even consider making Barclays Digital Wings part of your company or organisational training resources. With wide-ranging content, it’s an excellent resource for workmates of all abilities and a variety of organisations. It’s free and you don’t have to bank with us to sign up.
Barclays SmartBusiness Dashboard and apps
Juggling separate tools for marketing, cashflow, staffing or sales? SmartBusiness Dashboard and apps connect all the data in one place, to help simplify the everyday running of your business.4
Explore the directory of hand-picked business apps and connect the ones you already use – plus, you can trial any for free4 to see if they work for your business. Dashboard then displays the most important information from your connected apps alongside data from your business bank accounts, making it easier to keep an eye on everything you need to help manage your business.
If you have a business account with us, it’s free to sign up to SmartBusiness Dashboard5.
The views and opinions expressed on any third party apps do not reflect the views of the Barclays Bank PLC Group nor should they be taken as statements of policy or intent of the Barclays Bank PLC Group. The Barclays Bank PLC Group takes no responsibility for the veracity of information intimated by a third party and no warranties or undertakings of any kind whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information are given. The Barclays Bank PLC Group takes no liability for the impact of any decisions made based on information contained and views expressed in the third party apps listed.
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