Here are Laura Stack’s favorite smartphone and tablet apps. Stack is the president of The Productivity Pro, a training company that helps professionals achieve “Maximum Results in Minimum Time.” She’s the author of six books, including the recent “Execution IS the Strategy.” She is also a contributing writer for The Business Journals.
My smartphone: Samsung Galaxy 4S
My five favorite apps
I keep track of my plane, hotel, directions, and ground transportation using TripIt as my personal organization system. I simply forward my confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Tripit automatically populates my digital itineraries. I access the details of my trips online or from my phone while walking through the airport. No more printing, filing and hauling paper!
I use this to sync content from the cloud to my desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. When I see an article I like online, I simply right-click, clip the page, file it in an Evernote notebook, and tag it for easy searching. I drag large PDF documents into new notes to read on upcoming business trips. I use Evernote in conjunction with my Livescribe Smartpen, so my handwritten notes from meetings and conference calls sync through Wi-Fi to my online account. I can re-listen to recordings right before meetings to refresh my memory. Every update I make on one device reflects everywhere else.
Microsoft Outlook users can sync their data to their phones, which is really handy, except the native apps require them to tap multiple icons to access different modules. Instead, I used the TouchDown ActiveSync Exchange client, which allows me to click ONE icon to access my email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes, as well as handle out-of-office and rule settings. For around $20, everything is all within one app, not multiple apps.
My smartphone is portable credit card processing machine — with no monthly fees. I can accept payments just about anywhere for book sales and speaking fees using a small square scanner that plugs into the earphone jack. I slide cards through the scanner, enter the dollar amount, and ask the buyer to sign with a fingertip. The buyer can enter an email address to receive a receipt, which autofills for subsequent purchases.
Business travel is much more fun when you know where to eat in unfamiliar cities. I particularly enjoy restaurants with local flair that aren’t big-box chains. Simply enable GPS, and Yelp will tell you what’s around you, the menu, the rankings from other patrons, and the cost. I feel more comfortable knowing I’m eating somewhere the locals and other visitors have enjoyed.
My favorite app for fun
I give presentations on creating high-performance cultures for a living and fly more than 100,000 miles a year to speaking engagements. So I take photos of the landmarks with my phone and upload them to my Facebook feed to show my followers, friends and family where I am, what I’m doing, and what I see. It makes my travels much more conversational and brings others into the experience with me.