Apps to Organize Your Life: What Durham Tech Faculty & Staff Love!

Life can be unorganized, and with all the digital options out there, choosing productivity and other helpful “life” apps can almost be an additional burden.

In order to help narrow down a huge playing field, the library asked Durham Tech faculty and staff what their favorite productivity apps are for managing their time and life.

Some almost across-the-board similarities were an ability to sync between devices and between platforms.  Cloud-based storage and collaboration was also key.

black and white calendar image

Calendar applications were at the top of everyone’s list:

  • Google calendar is a favorite, especially when synced to other calendar applications, including Apple’s calendar app.  Don’t have a Gmail address?  Students can login using their Durham Tech email address, and you can also use non-Gmail email addresses to create accounts for Google applications.
  • The college uses Outlook for email, so using the Outlook calendar is a great way to connect and share your work schedule with other Durham Tech employees and others using Outlook.
  • Like them all?  Use gsyncit to meld all your calendars together into one tidy schedule.  It can also import information from Evernote and Dropbox (more on those in a minute).
  • Need to be able to have people schedule time with you? allows people to schedule appointments with you during set periods of time (office hours, anyone?) and syncing with your Google or iCloud calendar.

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Followed by task organizers and checklists.  The key here seems to be to find the app that fits your mental model:

  • Wunderlist allows collaborative lists among other features such as reminders, due dates, tagging, and other ways to organize tasks and items.  Bonus: This app syncs across multiple devices and platforms.
  • A visually pretty (oh, the colors!) and simple app, Clear allows you to create managed lists as well, including helpful reminders and the like.  Mac stuff only here, though.
  • Visually, a much simpler application, Workflowy allows deeply nested lists and tasks for bigger and smaller projects alike.  Also allows for reminds, due dates, etc.

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Cloud-based storage for notes and such:

  • One Note is a (free) Microsoft product allows you to keep notes, photos, documents, and many other things easily accessible on all your devices using “the cloud”
  • Share, collaborate, organize, and sync to all your devices with Evernote, an app that allows you to “collect” items from across multiple medias in addition to taking notes, uploading documents, and much more.
  • Dropbox allows you to sync folders on your computer to the cloud both for storage and safety, creating a digital back-up or a place to virtually share and collaborate on documents.

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Assorted digital tools for making life run a little more smoothly:

  • Need to remember to text your best friend “Happy Birthday”?  Need to text someone tomorrow afternoon, but afraid you’ll forget by the end of today?  These are just some of the helpful things FutureText can help you out with, in addition to functioning as a reminder app.
  • Need a scanner but aren’t near one of the Durham Tech campus libraries?  Check out CamScanner, an app that allows your phone to scan images and translate them into pdfs.  (Great for forms needing to be turned in and late assignments needing immediate submission.)
  • Managing your money is stressful.  Mint wants to help.  See how your spending divides up and create financial plans and budgets here.
  • Been working at your computer all day managing your calendar and other tasks?  Don’t forget good old activity trackers like the Nike + Running app.  How much did you move today?
  • [Edited to add] Need some digital self control when you have to do computer work or research on the internet , but need to stay away from certain sites or programs?  Check out this list of website blockers to force you into productivity compliance.

What’s your favorite app to organize your schedule and/or your life?  Share with the library in the comments or shoot us an email at library at

Thanks to all the Durham Tech faculty and staff that participated!

All images from The Noun Project and via Wikimedia Commons.

About Meredith Lewis

Meredith is a reference librarian at Durham Tech on both the Main and Orange County Campuses. She likes fantasy, science-fiction, and historical fiction and is trying to be a better reader of non-fiction (just after she finishes that stack of novels on her bedside table...)