Managing your time with your iPhone

The thing I love most about organizing is that there are literally hundreds of various ways to organize your time, space and life. Being organized is not a one size fits all routine for everyone. What works for one may not necessarily work for another and that’s the beauty of it. Now I’m an old fashion pen and paper girl when it comes to calendar planning as that is what works for my family at this time, however others love technology and find it really works for them. Whatever way you are able to manage your time so that you aren’t missing appointments or arriving late then I say go for it. It’s all about what works for you!  So today, to give you some perspective from the technology side, I’ve asked Amber from Amber’s Organizing to share some of her tips on how she transitioned from paper to paperless for managing her time using her iPhone.

I never thought a little electronic device could would simplify and organize my life even more than it is! I was a skeptic but the iPhone has left a permanent change on this organizer. I think Apple should sit up and pay attention when an organizer claims their product has made her more organized! Maybe I should get the new iPhone 5 for free. Ok, enough of the kidding. They have done a great job creating a device than can keep us so organized. I know some of you may have the Android or a different device that competes with the iPhone but for today, I’m going to stick with the iPhone.

Almost a year ago now, I finally turned to what the industry calls a “smart phone”. I was tired of carrying around a calendar in my purse so I wanted a phone to take care of that aspect. I had wanted to make the switch for some time but alas, we were caught in an old phone plan and not until last year were we able to change our plan. I finally chose the I Phone instead of the Blackberry after the salesmen said if I don’t like it, just bring it back within thirty days. That gave me some peace of mind, but don’t get me wrong, I was still terrified. I had always carried around a pen and calendar around in my purse. Each year I’d carefully search for next year’s planner. Eventually, I figured that if I’m encouraging my clients to go paperless, I better model what it looks like. So enough was enough, I dove into the electronic world cold turkey.

Needless to say, I’m NEVER turning back! Everything I need is in my iPhone. No more paper calendars for me! It’s so liberating. Here’s how I did it.

1. Pick a clean cut off date. I chose the last day of the month I was in, when I bought my phone. There’s no turning back. Once you pick the date, stick to it.

2. Finish carrying around your paper calendar for that month, but from that day forward each time you get a new appointment, enter it into your phone or your computer based calendar. For me that is Outlook. Let me explain a little further too. If I’m at the dentists office, I put the next appointment into my phone which I’ll later sync with my computer. If I’m in my home office sitting in front of my computer, and I’m on the phone with the dentist, I’ll plug the appointment into my Outlook. Later it will sync with my phone and the appointment will show up in my phone. They always marry each other next time I sync them together.

3. As you may have guessed, my third point is that it is crucial you sync your phone up with your computer every day. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way. Once your get into the routine, you won’t forget.

4. Color code your calendar. I cannot stress this enough. It will make a world of difference. My organizing appointments are pink. My husband is green. Our social functions are blue and if I had kids, I’d give them each a color. These colors won’t show up in your phone but they do on your computer. At a glance, your eye can skim for a certain color so it’s super helpful.

5. Some of you may be used to making hand written notes to yourself next to an appointment in your date books. Don’t worry. You can do that in the phone too right within the appointment or you can go to the Notes app and write to your hearts content about anything and everything.

The neat part of this whole experience was the fact that not only did the phone eliminate a calendar in my purse, but it also eliminated other things in my organizing bag. A camera, map, calculator, and address book have also been cut. Here’s how:

  • The camera on the phone posts instantly to my facebook, blog, or computer for later use.
  • The map app guides me right to my client’s front door or a local store if I’m in a neighborhood I’m not familiar with.
  • The calculator app calculates my invoices on the spot when I’m writing them up at the end of an appointment.
  • Email is just a click away. No more unplanned surprises or cancellations because I’m notified in an instant.
  • Finally, my contacts are organized, all in one place, and with me wherever I go.

Phones have really shaped our culture, communication, and productivity more than we’ll ever realize. If you’re ready to simply how you keep track of data and want more organization in your purse, dive in like I did. I know you’ll like it too!

Do you use technology to manage your time?

Amber Kostelny-Cussen is a Certified Professional Organizer in Chicago, IL. She started Amber’s Organizing, LLC in 2004, through which she provides hands-on home organizing services. In her free time, Amber loves to blog and post on Facebook about anything related to organizing.

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Technology, Time Management


37 Responses to Managing your time with your iPhone

  1. 1
    Megg says

    Great post! I have a Blackberry but I’m not always happy with the interface. This Friday my husband and I are getting iPhones and I’m so so excited! I also really like the idea of color coding, I think that will help a lot because I’m always forgetting when my husband is going out!

  2. 3
    Lisa says

    If you use google calendar it will color code on the iPhone too, and no need to remember to sync, it does it instantly.

    Wunderlist is a great free task list too for computer and iPhone sync

  3. 4
    Jenni says

    I am yet another person who loves google calendar. It syncs automatically, can be color-coded, and have several other features such as “find a time” and inviting other users to events. In addition, calendars (such as kid’s events) can be shared with another user such as a spouse.

  4. 5
    Rae says

    I can’t justify the monthly cost for an iPhone, so my compromise was an iPod Touch. This little device changed my life. I can keep the contents of my entire life in it–my contacts, my appointments, my home inventory, my finances, my shopping lists, and even my book, music, and movie libraries. I no longer have to carry a day planner, an address book, a notebook for logging expenses, whatever book I’m currently reading, or a calculator, and I never show up at the store without my shopping list. I also keep all sorts of notes in it, like room measurements and tire sizes, so that when I see a great bargain I can know immediately if it’ll work in my home or with my vehicles. I miss the tactile feel of pen on paper, but I would never go back to a day planner.

    • 5.1
      JoannaTopazT says

      Rae, could you go into a bit more specifics on how you’re using the iPod Touch for all of this? I have a Touch also — because, like you, I couldn’t justify the monthly costs of a phone — and I know I could/should be taking advantage of it more, but just haven’t crossed that mental hurdle yet of figuring it out. Sounds like you have already had these thoughts.

  5. 6
    Melissa Ringstaff says

    I use the google calendar on my iPhone for everything! I also use the Notes app instead of note paper. I love it! I have a used iPhone. I couldn’t justify the expense of a data plan either, so when I put my sim card in the iPhone – from the cell phone I had been using, I turned off the data setting. So while I can’t download the Internet without wireless Internet connection I can use the phone and have Internet access thru any wifi connection! No data plan charge. I get to use all the apps. Works great for me! I LOVE my iPhone!

    • 6.1
      Pamela says

      Wait, I always wondered if one could do this! Wow, what iphone do you have? How do you turn off the data setting. When you turn off the data setting can you still get pictures via messaging? How do you access internet when you get to a hot spot? Thanks

    • 6.2
      Laura says

      I do have a smart phone but can’t for the life of me figure out how to add google calendar to it.

      • Kia says

        If you have an iphone you just need to add your google calendar to your acct and it syncs itself to your phone. If you have a smartphone with a browser, you can go straight to your goggle calendar page to see your calendar. I’ve been syncing my phone with google since i bought my 1st gen iphone, the paper appt cards clutter is great to never have again.

  6. 7
    Handy Man, Crafty Woman says

    great post. I don’t want to pay for a smart phone and the service, but I can see how they’d be really useful. For now, I guess I’ll stick to my paper calendar.

    Hubby has an ipod touch. It’s a lot of fun to play with, but I’m just too used to paper.

  7. 8
    Becky@Organizing Made Fun says

    I LOVE my Iphone, too! I totally agree! I use COZI for all our calendar stuff…my hubby can access it on his Blackberry or from any computer and add stuff to the calendar that I need to know. My kids can do the same, if they need to. I love it! I never thought I’d use a phone so much, but I do, too! So many fun things on there to use.

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  8. 9
    Rae says

    Joanna, the iPod Touch can use nearly all the apps that an iPhone does. What the Touch is missing are: a) G3 connectivity (so it can only go online in a wifi hotspot instead of anywhere there’s cell service) and b) the camera.

    Here again is my list of what I do with my Touch, and the app that I use to manage the task. Standard=comes with the Touch; Free=downloaded app with no cost; $=downloaded app I paid for:

    Contacts: Address book (standard)
    Appointments: iCal (standard)
    Home Inventory: My Stuff ($)
    Finances: CIBC, my bank’s mobile app (free) and Purchases (free)
    Shopping Lists: my grocery (free)
    Books: Stanza (free, with most books being free)
    Music: iTunes (standard)
    Movies: video (standard)
    Calculator (standard)
    Notes (standard)
    Photos (standard)–forgot to mention that one!

    Other apps I use frequently include beer and sushi guides, a dictionary, the clock (I love being able to set different alarms and I couldn’t live without the timer!), and various mobile versions of websites I use often like Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, IMDB, and Wikipedia.

    During my last vacation, I decided to only bring my iPod Touch with me and I was still able to Tweet, update my blog, and manage my email when I got to wifi hotspots.

    You really need to start using your Touch! There seems to be an app for everything. When I was painting my RV this fall, I even found an app that enabled me to figure out how much paint I needed!

    • 9.1
      m @ random musings says

      the Touch has a camera but it’s a lower resolution than the iphone – certainly good enough for instagram though!

  9. 10
    Lady in a Smalltown says

    You can color code your calendars on your iPhone/iPod Touch. I have. I have my class schedules (technology and literacy) in different colors and a color each for me, my husband, my son, and together. It has been 2 years since I set it up, so I can’t remember if I did it on my iPod or if it transfered from my computer.

  10. 12
    Sharisse says

    Wow! One of my favorite subjects! :-) I am a former Iphone user and I currently have an Itouch which I only use for music. Like some of you I could not justify the monthly bill of an Iphone & did not want to be stuck under AT&T’s contract. I have had smartphones in between and now a first time ever Crackberry user. I am kind of a calendar/gadget/time keeping nerd. I have a large Busy Body Book calendar on my fridge, a Busy Body Book notebook I carry around and Google calendar synced to my Blackberry. My husband & 16yo son also have Google calendars and we are all synced to each other. Husband has an Iphone and son has a regular smartphone. 16yo phone is set to receive text message alert reminders on the Google calendar since he doesn’t have an Iphone or BB. It may sound like overkill but it works for me. Working fulltime, going to school parttime, daughter has soccer practice Mon & Wed & games on Fri. Son has soccer practice Tues & Thurs, weekend games or he’s working. Plus appointments, meetings, doctor, dentist, etc… I just can’t keep up. I got tired of husband and son constantly asking me what’s going on for the evening or what’s going on for the weekend. I absolutely LOVE the Google calendar and I am also able to syn my tasks list so my to-do’s are everywhere in my face constantly reminding me of what I need to get done. Whew! Sorry got a little excited there.

  11. 13
    Jess says

    Ok, Amber, I think we all want to challenge you to try Google calender!! It’s awesome, and you never have to worry about syncing up! I won’t relist all of the other advantages, but they are numerous! Give it a try and let us know what you think!

    • 13.1
      Jess says

      And you could save the minute it takes you to sync and take a reminder off your daily list!

      • Pamela says

        Can you color code with this and does it allow you to set alarms. I’m really looking for something that will give me 2 alarms for 1 event. So I have my reminder a few days before and then 1 an hour before the event.

        • Sharisse says

          If you’re referring to the google calendar you can set as many alarms as you want at whatever interevals you want. You can set pop ups on your computer, reminders on your phone, emails, text messages multiplied by the amount of times you want. Like some of you I am visual and needs reminders popping up and slapping me in the face LOL. I set it for 2 hours, then 1 hour, then 30 minutes.

        • Jess says

          YES! You can color code on the left-hand side. Tons of colors. Just like the other person said, you can add as many reminders as you want. If there’s anything you want, Google has it!

      • Amber Cussen says

        Thanks Jess. I will check it out. You sound very convincing and pleased with it. Good for you!

        • Jess says

          No problem! I meant that in a positive way btw! I hope it didn’t seem negative…

  12. 14
    Living the Balanced Life says

    I use a Blackberry and have only used it for a year. I like being able to access my email, twitter, and I use Google calendar as well! I need to consider other ways I can utilize the timers, etc, to keep me on task. I also use the notes features constantly. My friends in church used to think I was texting in church, but I was taking notes!
    The world really IS at our fingertips!

    • 14.1
      Sharisse says

      You can also download the gmsynctask app and it will sync your tasks in your google calendar to the tasks on your Blackberry and vice versa.

  13. 15
    Lindsey V. says

    I agree with everyone else, use the google calender! I use my iPhone for everything and I have to have the color code on my phone.

  14. 16

    I completely agree with you. Besides the apps mentioned in your post, I also have my grocery and to do lists apps (shopList), weather reports, unit converter and menstrual calendar all taken care of with my (already outdated version 3) IPhone. I even use it for skype chats and calls!!

  15. 17
    Allison Erhardt says

    I too have an iPod touch and use google calenders. You don’t need to have WiFi everywhere to use it; as soon as you re-enter your WiFi zone, it automatically syncs up.

    I have a work calender (shared with co-workers), a family calender (shared with spouse.) I have a personal calender (just my events), a shared calender for the hockey team I play on. One for each of my kids. One to track birthdays as well.

    Each of these are colour coded and I can choose which ones I want to view on my iPod and which I don’t. I can also subscribe to my CFL teams calender so I know when my husband will be at a football game, and I can turn that off at the end of the season.

    Outlook has some powerful calender features. However, I think if you want to use an iPod/iPhone for calender, set up the gmail calenders for sync, but then set up your outlook calender to sync to Google as well… you can do both. then you can use Outlook at home, google on the phone, and it’s all nicely synced up.

    Now the real trick is to not get caught up using the other, eh hem, features of your iPod. :-P Great post!

  16. 18
    Amy says

    Love my iphone too. Here’s my few additions to how it helps in day to day organizing:
    -if you have a mac at home too you’ll be automatically synced using mobile me. love that.
    -use ‘voice memo’ when you’re driving. record your note and then email it to yourself later. Or Dragon Dictation will turn it into text (doesn’t always work well… might depend on how your accent).
    -‘Awesome Note’ app it just that. awesome! attach pics, voice memos, maps alongside your text which is filed in ‘folders’ and syncs later with google docs or evernote.
    – Grocery IQ is indepensable. Not just for groceries though… I create a a new store for all the placed I need something and just add to their list so I’ll remember it when I get there. ie: hardware store, craft/fabric, grocery, office supply, etc.
    – Did you mention alerts on the calendar? That’s my new brain since hitting 40! I alert myself for all kinds of stuff… not just activities.
    – Home Routines is a nice app for keeping your home in order. I haven’t quite stuck with it… but I go in spurts instead.

    and the list goes on!

  17. 19
    Rebecca C says

    Another vote for Google Calendar! My hubby and I have Android phones and we use the same calendars so we can both add stuff which automatically syncs to the other person’s phone.

    • 19.1
      Laura says

      Hi Rebecca, I too have an Android phone…can you tell me how to get google calendar on it?

      • Rebecca C says

        Certainly. :) It should actually already be on any Android phone. If you just long-press on your screen, you should be able to add a Calendar widget wherever you want. I believe (I modify my phone pretty heavily, so I may be remembering wrong) that it should automatically sync with your Google Calendar/s, assuming you have set a Google account to sync with your phone (under Accounts and Sync Settings).

        There are also a number of free and paid calendars available on the market if you don’t like what comes stock. I personally swear by Pure Calendar, but almost any of them will sync to Google Calendar. Hope this helps!

  18. 21
    Clark says

    Hi Amber, managing time is a great way to do more work with less time. Managing time efficiently can also help you stay focus on work and limit wasted time. There are also different ways and useful tools that can help you manage your time. I use Toggl in my iPhone, with it I can still keep on track of my time when working and it easy to use with a user friendly interface. At work where phones are not allowed I downloaded this time management tool that tracks time accurately when working on different tasks. Using this tool I set an estimated amount of time that is attainable when working on each task. Time management helps a lot to be a successful person. Discipline is the key that keeps me follow my scheduled task when working and finish it on time. This is how I manage time daily. I hope this can also inspire others.

  19. 22
    Cristina says

    One great app I found is grocery gadget. My husband and I both have it on our iPhones. Whenever either one of us adds an item to our grocery list it is updated live on the other. Now, instead of forgetting my paper list at home I have it with me while I am running errands. We both have it! No more calling each other and asking if we need anything from the store. As soon as we see we are running low on milk, we add it to the grocery gadget. If someone is out and about and picks it up, we remove it from the list. You have the option to make as many list as needed. I have a general grocery store list, a list for Target, a pharmacy list, a Home Depot list and a pet supply list. These are the most common list we had. Now I have it with me all the time.

  20. 23
    Michelle says

    My daughter started Kindergarten in the fall and without the cozi calendar app on my phone I would be a wreck. There are so many late start days, vacation days, spirit days, skating nights. There is no way in the world I would be able to remember all of these and I only have one child. I’m finding as I get older my mind is not as sharp as it used to be!


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