The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Download now: 15 apps every busy professional should know about — September 25, 2015

Download now: 15 apps every busy professional should know about

Much like the desk and computer, the iPhone has become a center of command, home to our schedules, meeting contacts, financial data, and notes. But with more than 1.5 million apps available in the App store, it’s difficult to discover which ones deliver real value.

From downloads for wellness to project management tools and to-do-lists, we asked the Fetch Community for their favorite apps outside of the standard group of essentials (Uber, Facebook, Yelp, Airbnb). The following 15 earned rave reviews:

1. Headspace
Start your day with a dose of zen! Headspace offers meditation in micro-doses, designed to make practicing mindfulness simple and effective. Ten minutes is all it takes.

2. Slack
Get access to messages and archives, as well as notifications — wherever you are. Use the Slack app to stay in touch with your team, answer questions quickly, and stay connected when traveling.

3. Trello
A beautiful tool for organizing almost anything. Trello is perfect for product roadmaps, project management and to-do lists that may be otherwise overwhelming.

4. Sweep
Don’t waste time worrying about your budget; Sweep is one step ahead, with a futuristic view of your cash flow. The app’s best features are custom saving buckets and its ability to identify recurring expenses.

5. Pomodoro
Maintaining focus is critical for busy employees, and Pomodoro will help you produce great work by enforcing time set for specific tasks. Use the timer to customize your workflow, with scheduled blocks devoted to work and rest.

6. Dictionary.com
More than 200,000 trusted, English definitions in your back pocket. Take advantage of audio pronunciations, voice search, and a translator functionality that works with 25 languages — or have fun with ‘Word of the Day’ and quizzes that promise to keep you entertained during a dull commute.

7. Breather
One of our HQ team’s favorite apps, Breather enables people in North America to find, unlock and use beautiful spaces for work and relaxation. Peace and quiet on demand is officially a thing.

Breather, peace and quiet on demand

8. Pocket
This handy app brings bookmarking to a new level. File away videos, images, articles, and web pages during your commute or while waiting in line — and read them from your comfy couch or desk at the office later.

9. Spotify
The music-streaming service earns rave reviews among professionals. This is an extra enjoyable app for those who can listen to music at the office, taking advantage of new releases or collaborating on team playlists all day long.

10. PaybyPhone Parking
This popular parking app functions in Canada, the US, UK, and France. Features include text reminders and email receipts, while updating vehicle registration numbers and payment cards takes only seconds. 

11. Sunrise
One of the most-loved calendar apps for the iPhone, Sunrise syncs with all of your apps (Evernote, Tripit, Songkick, Meetup) to ensure that your schedule is documented without error. The eye-catching design also boasts smart features like weather forecast by location, Google Maps for making your way to meetings, and photos of people you’re slated to see.

12. Asana
Help cut down on excess team email conversations by moving and tracking work in Asana, where all information about a project is stored in a single place. The app is completely free to use for teams up to 15 people.

13. Todoist
Keep track of tasks and projects across 15 platforms and in more than 20 languages with Todoist, hailed as “one of the best to-do list apps in 2014” by Forbes. With all of the necessary integrations (Google Drive, Sunrise Calendar, Zapier) and an ability to sync across devices, staying organized and collaborating seamlessly is easy wherever you are.

14. Freshbooks
Busy business owners and freelancers will appreciate Freshbook’s streamlined iPhone app, which makes accounting on the go a painless task. Using cloud technology, Freshbooks operates in real-time, making it possible for you to access important information on the fly or invoice a client on the spot.

15. ClassPass
Don’t fall out of your fitness routine when you’re away from home or bogged down by a busy schedule! Instead, use the ClassPass app to access available classes that will help you stay energized and inspired. Buy a flex membership to take unlimited classes at studios in the US, UK, and Canada — with Australia launching soon.

Have a go-to app that saves you time, makes life easier or simplifies work travel? Let us know about it in the comments!

10 time-saving methods to help you master scheduling — May 6, 2015

10 time-saving methods to help you master scheduling

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This is a post that first appeared on my blog last year.

I think of the last two years I’ve spent in New York as professional finishing school. If there’s anywhere on this planet where people are stupendously busy, it’s this place. It definitely took me a few months to settle into the rhythm. Combine this experience with recently fundraising, and I now feel incredible mindful of everyone’s time. So, without ado, I wanted to share 10 tips on how to win at professional time etiquette:

1) For the love of humankind, be direct with asks

Growing up in England and Australia, I was taught to be the opposite of direct. Skirt around issues, don’t address things head on, be tirelessly polite and pad lots of superfluous info around a lone ask. What I’ve now learnt is that one of the kindest things you can do for someone’s time, is to be as direct as possible. Don’t ask someone for coffee if you can put something in a one-sentence email.

2) Do double opt-in introductions

When I receive an email with the subject line: “Introduction…” my heart sinks. Connecting someone to another without asking the person if they want to opt-in, in a professional context, isn’t a favour to the recipient – it’s often a burden. In the days of overflowing inboxes, managing requests and day-to-day work – we can be plagued with guilt of not being on top of it all. The best referrers understand signal over noise – what each party is looking for. Over time when you build up trust in a professional relationship… use it wisely.

As Fred Wilson writes on AVC:

“When introducing two people who don’t know each other, ask each of them to opt-in to the introduction before making it.”

If you’re the one asking for an intro, include the context and a blurb that the introducer can easily copy across. Make it easy for people to help you.

3) Bcc the introducer post introduction

Once you have that intro, reply! It sounds super obvious but there’s been countless times when someone has sent an intro to me and the requester didn’t reply. Don’t be that person! When you do reply, move the person introducing you to bcc so they see you’re on it but you’re not clogging their inbox. Simply say thanks and that you’re moving the introducer to bcc in the email copy. No more getting stuck on irrelevant back and forths.

4) Don’t ask questions that you can easily google

Please don’t ask what someone’s email address is via social media when you can easily find it on the web. The same goes for other minutiae like addresses. If I’m sending a calendar invite through for a meeting, I’ll find the office address online (if it’s not on the website, look in their email signature, Foursquare/Yelp data and so forth).

If you’re reaching out to someone for advice, make sure you’ve read what’s out there first. Every man and his dog seems to have been interviewed about their journey or write a blog with their thoughts these days. Don’t make people repeat themselves.

5) Don’t abuse Facebook messages

This depends on personal preferences but I’m less of a fan of using Facebook messages for work comms. In a way, I’m glad Facebook is now splitting out the messenger app so I don’t have to install it and can switch off from another inbox to manage. If you want to say something important and have a request, don’t send it via Facebook. It’s likely just going to sit in someone’s ‘Other’ section unnoticed or just annoy them while they’re busy wading through the latest click bait in their feeds!

6) Calendar invites or it’s not happening

If you’ve arranged to meet someone or are hosting an event – calendar invite that thing up! Forget Facebook events invites or group text messages, New Yorkers sendPaperless Post invites that you add straight into your calendar. It often takes weeks to get on people’s schedule here – you’ve got to make sure you’re literally on it. If you’re finding scheduling is taking up a lot of time, check out services like Zirtualor Assistant.to.

7) Do phone calls

I have to admit, I used to hate phone calls… I’d much prefer an email. When I first moved to New York, I was surprised at all the phone call suggestions verse in-person meetings. The thing is, getting around the city takes a lot of time so why spend two hours out of your day commuting then having coffee, when you could fit it in an half-hour phone call. The same goes for email – if you’re forming work relationships, don’t ping emails back and forth, New Yorkers pick up the phone and hustle.

8) Do your background research

Preparation and research beforehand will make your meetings. Don’t spend time asking basic questions – the more you can deep dive, the livelier, more interesting and memorable the conversation will be. If you’re fundraising, for instance, go in knowing what companies/founders someone’s invested in, what their investment thesis is and if you’re at the right stage (e.g. What’s their average check size?). It’s likely not worth both of your time, if these things don’t align.

In terms of insights, Refresh is seriously a great app – it offers a nice (and often a bit too ‘stalkerish’) overview of the people you’re meeting with. It’s actually made it onto my phone’s homescreen it’s been that useful.

9) If you’re not 10 minutes early, you’re late

Australians are known, well, for being casual with time. It’s quite okay to ‘rock up’ five to 10 minutes late to a meeting there. I mean, it’s obviously not great manners but most people do it. Fast forward to when I moved to New York, and had a steep learning curve. Over time, I’ve stopped arriving in the nick of time – and now give myself 10-15 minutes before any meeting.

10) Follow through

Pipeline’s Natalia Oberti Noguera recently said at a conference:

“Fortune is in the follow up.”

All of the above tips are nothing if you don’t follow up and follow through. Following up makes it worth it and is the ‘getting stuff done’ part – make sure you get your follow ups done within a few days post-meeting.

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