Since almost all states have imposed stay-at-home orders in light of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone’s spending more time at home. While you may be relieved to have escaped the grind of a daily commute, working from home and staying indoors for the majority of the day comes with it’s own set of challenges. Your devices can help.
With the right set of apps, you can forget you’re in a confined space, get some exercise, and let your mind roam free. From socializing to exercising to checking on the news, these are the apps you need to stay connected, productive, relaxed, and entertained. Here are 38 apps and tools to help school marketers stay productive while at home.
Work-Related Apps and Tools
Airtable is a great tool for planning your editorial calendar, mostly because it’s a combination of spreadsheet and database. While it initially looks like a spreadsheet, it’s a lot more! Some of the custom features include programmable columns or cells to hold pre-defined tags, checklists and even files.
Asana (or Basecamp or Trello)
Asana is a popular project management tool that helps you – and your team – manage tasks and deadlines. Basecamp and Trello are other popular project management tools you may want to consider. Read more: 7 Ways to Increase Productivity with a Small School Marketing Team
Auto Text Expander
Auto Text Expander is another invaluable free Google Chrome extension. This tool is one I never knew I needed until I tried it. Basically, you use it to auto-populate text you write repeatedly. Examples include: typing dial-in instructions, an email response I send often, writing a company boilerplate, and many more examples. You type an abbreviation you have chosen for a segment of text and it auto-populates your pre-written copy.
Block Site does exactly that – it blocks sites during hours you set. Find yourself easily distracted by Reddit or a favorite social media site? Just set a block during your work hours to regain control your browsing content. Parent of a teenager? Block Site is also a great tool for blocking adult sites in one click!
Most school marketers today use some sort of cloud storage system. Dropbox tends to be a very common and popular tool that integrates with Microsoft, Slack and many other apps. One feature I love and use all the time is taking a screenshot that automatically saves into a file accessible from my desktop. While there are other cloud storage programs out there, like Sync, pCloud, Google Drive, Zoho Docs, GoodSync, Box, OneDrive and Digital Asset Management, Dropbox is probably the most used system, except maybe Google Drive.
Emergent Task Planner
Emergent Task Planner is one of my favorite low-tech organizational tools. You can order the ETP pads, which are printed on a thick paper and custom inks, from Amazon. The benefit of the ETP layout is that it challenges you to think clearly about what is realistically possible in one day because it forces you to map out how you plan to accomplish each task. ETP was designed by Dave Seah, who explains the tool here.
Evernote is an oldie but goodie. I’ve been using this tool for years to keep track of articles and links useful for upcoming content or projects. Setting up a folder system is essential (but easy) to ensure you make the most of
The use of visuals in your school marketing has always been important but I believe it’s becoming even MORE IMPORTANT because of the sheer amount of information that your prospective families are exposed to on a daily basis – visuals help you cut through all of the “noise.” Canva is a free tool that I describe as graphic design for dummies. It also has a Pro version that is an incredible value if you have a team at your school in the MarCom office. If you haven’t tried out Canva yet you really are missing one of the coolest, most helpful, and incredible tools around.
Tired of trying to keep track of all your login credentials? LastPass is a secure password manager that encrypts and stores all your usernames and passwords in one safe place, called a Vault. It not only will autofill your accounts, but you can look up your username and password and copy it in case you need it on a different device. You can also download LastPass on your phone and access your login information there. Alternatives include Dashlane and 1Password.
Loom is a free screen and video recording Chrome extension. Loom is a great tool for short explainer videos – so much easier than trying to type up a list of instructions. Plus, you can show people what you’re talking about, which makes this tool invaluable. It’s available on desktop, iOS mobile and Android mobile. An alternative to Loom is Fleeq.
MindNode is a visual brainstorming tool that lets you capture your ideas and organize them, build on them and share them. It’s a really powerful, fun-to-use tool that lets you easily capture your thoughts. Then you can add more context, categorize them, add reminders and track them, block out distractions and embellish them.
Right Inbox is a Gmail extension that supercharges your emailing efforts. Right Inbox saves you time on repetitive tasks and helps you to send better emails. Schedule emails to be sent later or set up email reminders with Right Inbox. It can also be used to set up email templates in Gmail and track email clicks and opens.
Pocket is an easy way to save and categorize content from anywhere on the web. It’s easy-to-use and integrates with Evernote. While it seems like a simple app, which it is, it is powerful at the same time because you never have to lose a webpage again!
Easily distracted? The RescueTime app might just change your life! RescueTime works in the background of your computer, phone or tablet to show you exactly how you spend your time. You don’t have to do anything manually. Everything you do is automatically categorized so you can quickly see the time you spend on specific apps, websites or projects, helping you identify ways to increase your time efficiency.
Want to improve communication with your team? Or work remotely but stay in touch? Slack is a great collaboration tool for clear, real-time communication that keeps everyone in the loop. It’s so popular, chances are you might already be using it. Slack enables projects to move forward with efficient communication. You can set up different channels while having all team communications in one place so no one gets left out of the loop. Slack can also help you save time by reducing email and meeting times.
Teamup is a tool designed for sharing calendars among team members. You can use it for organizing, scheduling and sharing meeting and project details. You can customize with color coding and flexible access permissions.
ToDoist is an easy way to keep track of everything you need to do. Todoist syncs between all your devices, so you never forget anything on your list. It’s easy to add new lists, prioritize your tasks and share work lists with your team members. ToDoist has many integrations, such as Dropbox, Zapier, IFTT, Amazon Alexa, Slack, Google Drive, Toggl and many others. Remember the Milk is a similar app.
Toggl is a simple, easy-to-use tool designed to help you keep track of your time and easily generate reports that reflect your time allocation. It helps you estimate how long a task will take as well as give you information you can use to help you make decisions about how to allocate your time. Especially useful for managers who want to understand where their team members’ time goes as well as make projections for future projects. Focus Booster is a similar app.
Workflow is a customizable app that lets you automate tasks you do every day. You can easily set up unique homescreen shortcuts on your phone that perform batches of actions with one tap. Workflow saves time by automating complex tasks, create new apps and shortcuts with a simple drag-and-drop feature. Integrates with Safari and Evernote. Workflow is only available for Apple products, but there are Android alternatives like MacroDroid, Trigger, Autonomous and Automagic Premium.
Zapier or IFTTT
Zapier is a tool that integrates, automates and innovates processes between apps. Use it to trigger actions, design workflows and build processes. IFTTT (if this then that) is a similar app. Both of these apps can be tremendous time savers.
Home and Personal Apps
30 Amazing Virtual Tours of Museums, Zoos and Theme Parks
This is not an app, but it is a great list of museums, zoos and theme parks offering free virtual tours to help stave off boredom at home during the coronavirus lockdown. Enjoy!
Missing the gym and your personal trainer? Aaptiv offers audio-based fitness workouts to help you stay motivated and personalized fitness instruction. The app includes scientifically-effective programming, trainers and music. Aaptiv is an always-there workout option – just set your goals, choose a workout and get moving!
The Alfred app is a free mobile app that turns your mobile device into a home security camera. Simply install Alfred on two smartphones or compatible mobile devices. Open the app on both devices and signing. Set one up as the Viewer and the other as the Camera. Furthermore, Alfred supports an unlimited number of Viewer camera devices as long as all are logged into the same account. It’s that simple! Download for iOS or Android.
Apple Watch is a great tool for people who tend to hyper-focus. Do you fall deeply down the hole of concentration you forget everything around you? Apple Watch will buzz when it’s time for an important meeting or an event is coming up. It will also help you find your phone if you lose it. It is more than a timekeeping device – it tracks your health and fitness metrics, displays your notifications, allows you to pay with Apple Pay and even automates your home appliances. Samsung Galaxy Watch is an Android alternative.
BroadwayHD is letting people stream Broadway shows and musicals online for free, for a limited time. Of course this isn’t the same as being there in real life, but it does offer new entertainment while you’re confined at home.
Thinking of making changes to your home? A little bit of interior design planning can be an enjoyable pass time. Hey, if you’re stuck at home you might as well think of ways to improve it, right? Design Home is part game and part wish fulfillment, with a variety of challenges and projects to complete, and new ones added all the time. You can level up to design your very own dream home, too. Available on iOS or Android.
[email protected] offers “scientifically engineered” music proven to increase focus and reduce distractions. The app was designed by platinum selling music producers, backed by world-class neuroscientists and offers thousands of hours of unique tracks. Choose from channels like Acoustical Plus, UpTempo, AlphaChill, Ambient and ADHD Type 1. Similar apps include Noisli and Brain.fm.
The Forest app is a cross between a game and a productivity tool. Whenever you’re ready to start on a task, plant a tree and stay focused. If you lose focus, your tree will die. If you stay focused daily, you will grow a forest. Use it for working in your office, professional development or studying, or spending time with loved ones or friends. What I love about this app is that Forest partners with a real tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees on Earth.
Google Duo offers high-quality video calling for smartphones, tablets, computers and smart displays like Google Nest Hub Max. It works on Android, iOS and the web and is free to use for up to eight people. There are cool new filters to play with and you can record your video calls and share with other friends and family members.
If you haven’t heard of it before, JustWatch is a great tool for finding movies across multiple streaming platforms, like Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Now, Showtime, Epix, Crackle, Xbox, Playstation and multiple other channels. JustWatch doesn’t actually stream full movies or episodes, but is used to create a WatchList; it’s algorithm “learns” what you like and makes suggestions.
Libby allows you to borrow ebooks and audiobooks instantly from your local library, for free. You can also sign in to multiple libraries, download books and audiobooks for offline reading or stream them to save space on your device, send ebooks to your Kindle, facilitate holds, keep track of your reading history, position, bookmark and keep notes that sync across devices.
MyLifeOrganized is a task management tool. Create To Do lists and checklists, create outlines with a hierarchy and then turn your outline into a project management list. Set up location-based reminders, sync with your cloud storage system and create tasks via email. Available for Windows, iOS and Android.
Nuzzel is a popular app targeted to professionals that aggregates a news feed based on what your friends are reading and sharing in other social media apps. Many people find with Nuzzel they get a feed of headlines that feel much closer and more relevant to what they’re interested in, because they’re being shared by friends, family and co-workers. Have you given up on Flipboard, Twitter, Newsle and Feedly? Check out Nuzzel and see what you think. Download at these links: Google Play or Apple App Store.
Gyms around the world have been forced to close their doors due to coronavirus shutdowns, leaving many people missing their gym. Working out by yourself at home and sticking to your home workout routine can be incredibly difficult. Peleton is an at-home workout app that offers thousands of live and on-demand exercise classes anywhere, anytime. You can find workouts that include running, cardio, strength training, toning, cycling, yoga, meditation and outdoor workouts. Right now they are offering a 90 day free trial. Peleton integrates with your Apple Watch as well.
Stitcher is a great resource for finding and listening to podcasts. Have a mindless task you’ve been putting off? Plug into a podcast you love and crank out that dreaded chore or listen while you’re on your favorite exercise machine. I mostly listen to podcasts while I’m cooking, doing the dishes, folding laundry, gardening or, before the coronavirus shutdown, commuting.
Ten Percent Happier
My favorite meditation tool is Ten Percent Happier. I love the education element and guided meditations. I find when I use this app I am more relaxed and, yes, happier! Right now Ten Percent Happier is offering Live guided meditations every weekday at 3 pm Eastern. They also offer a free “Coronavirus Sanity” guide download. Similar apps include Calm, Headspace and InsightTimer.
TimeTree is a way to share your calendar with family members. It helps you manage your busy life while sharing calendars, notes, tasks and more. It’s a popular app designed for families (or small work groups). Support multiple calendars and you can keep individual calendars separate for privacy. TimeTree integrates with Google Calendar, Outlook, Apple calendar and other calendars.
Yes, I know you know about YouTube. Anyone with a pulse on the planet today knows about YouTube. But you might not realize how amazing it really can be, especially if you break out of your usual cycle of recommendations. Look for livestreams of lo-fi music, long-running nature sound videos, tutorials on getting fit and learning languages, classic sports games of the past, stand-up comedy set. The educational and entertainment value is limitless; if you find you have extra time, now might be a good time to go exploring.
We’re all going a little stir-crazy being stuck at home due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders. Hopefully these tools and apps will make things a little easier and keep you a little more entertained during this time.
What favorite tools or apps are helping you get through the coronavirus pandemic? Please share with the rest of the school marketing community in the comments below…
Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for some of these resources above which means that, at no cost additional to you, I make a commission if you purchase via my link.