Chantal: Erik, welcome along. I am so, so excited to have you on the show.
Erik: Thank you for having me.
Chantal: I love your segment in the social media marketing podcast, because every single week, you kick off the show with like a cool new invention or something that’s come out onto the market and that was really the motivation to get you on the show today, because it feels like every single week there’s a new app coming out, there’s a new system that’s available. It’s hard to keep up with it all, and you are at the forefront of everything that’s happening.
Chantal: We’re going to break this one down for all of the listeners, and I’m hoping you can start off by sharing with us today, your top three app recommendations for getting and staying organized.
Erik: Yes. There may even be some crossover here, but I’m going to try and make it kind of simple and I guess organized. I use, so here’s the thing, I do want to say this, one of the things that I’ve learned over time as a person who talks a lot about productivity, people are asking me about like, “Well which task management app should I use?” I always say, like, “Which one will you use?” There are a number of them out there.
Erik: Like I personally have landed on one that I just think is the easiest to use, which is called Things. That’s actual version three, it’s Things three for Mac and IOS. I use it on my Mac, I use it on my phone, I use it on my iPad and it is just ease of use and user interface. It is the thing that I use to capture every single thing I need to do and then it let’s me organize it and create lists and different things like that.
Erik: However, I will say this, like if you’re not a Mac user, there are tones of other apps out there, like Todoist, that’s another great one. There is Nozbe, that’s N-O-Z-B-E.
Chantal: I do have a question for you about Things.
Chantal: You said that you can save anything in there. Can you save like screenshots and pictures and videos? Or is it just for written notes?
Erik: It’s primarily for written stuff, yeah.
Chantal: Right, okay, cool.
Erik: Now Nozbe will do that though, so that is one that will do that. Again for me it’s like I’m not necessarily looking to … For me Things functions more as a task planner, not necessarily a place where I go and put media. However, now to keep with the theme of being organized, Evernote is the second place that I use, and that’s where I’ll drop media. I’ll drop audio and video and images, and that’s where I’ll use as like a scrap pad or even like an audio file capture place, so that’s where I keep all that. Different notebooks, different ways to capture.
Erik: Again, we talked about getting things done, it’s all about capturing and then not letting it pile up, but letting it be organized. Part of that organization is making the time to get organized, so you know there’s the weekly review where it’s like, and even a daily time where it’s like, I’ll drop stuff in all day into the quote inbox. Then once it A, I will go in and I will move those things to the right place, whether it’s like, oh this is a brilliant idea for a marketing idea for some day down the road, but not right now.
Erik: Well then I won’t keep that in my current workflow, I’ll move it to future ideas, the folder I have named for that.
Chantal: Yeah. I’m a massive fan of Evernote myself as well, and there is something about the simplicity of that system that I really enjoy.
Erik: Yeah. It just really, really works and I knows there’s different levels, like there’s paid or there’s like a one level, there’s like premium level too as well. There’s even the free, and the free actually has worked pretty well for me. If you’ve not checked out Evernote, which again most people have heard about Evernote or have tried it before, but again, it’s one of those things like it’s just so easy to use. The ease of use there is just, it’s just amazing.
Chantal: Very, very cool. Okay, do we have any others that fall under the getting and staying organized category?
Erik: Let’s see here. I’ll give you my favorite calendar, and again this is a Mac app, it’s called BusyCal.
Erik: I know, right, so it’s like, oh my gosh you’re so busy. It’s a BusyCal. The cool thing with this, and actually I use it on my phone and my desktop, and the reason I like it is because I can press a plus button here and I could literally say the words like lunch with so and so on Friday May 15th or something along those lines. It literally knows what I’m saying, and it will create that event right there on my calendar, and I don’t need to sit there and try to figure out where it is and type it and all that kind of stuff.
Erik: Literally I actually made plans with a friend of mine for lunch next week Monday, and as soon as I got off the phone with him, I hit the button that on my phone also in there. I said, “Lunch with John 12 PM Monday May 21st.” I then tapped the May 21st date on my calendar and boom, it said lunch and it said 12 PM. Yeah, it just put it all in there.
Erik: It’s so simple, it was as if my assistant had done it for me.
Chantal: Oh I absolutely love it. I need that app. Just to clarify with that Erik, if I’ve got Google Calendar, does that automatically sync to my Google Calendar?
Erik: Yes it does, BusyCal, yeah you connect your Google Calendar or any of your calendars for that matter. Then it will literally sync with your Google Calendar or whatever calendar of choice you have.
Chantal: Is that a free app or do we pay for it?
Erik: I think it’s, so BusyCal, I’m pretty sure it’s like a one time pay thing. It’s like 20 something US dollars, and it’s frequently updated. I can’t remember how much the iPhone app was, but it wasn’t too much. I mean it was like a buck or two or something like that, so yeah.
Chantal: That is seriously cool. I love that. Okay, let’s move on to our second category, which is being creative. What have you got for us?
Erik: Okay, so when it comes to being creative, one of the things that, you know I’m a, you can kind of tell this from, it kind of fits with my podcasting background is, I am most creative when I’m talking. I may not know where I’m going, but me talking it out is me figuring it out. For anybody that’s out there like that, I have an app that is called Just Press Record, and it will, you just press record and it starts to record you. It records you in audio snippets.
Erik: Now what’s cool about this is, it’s not only a Mac desktop app and it’s not only an iPhone app, but it’s also an Apple watch app.
Chantal: That will be of interest to many of our listeners out there.
Erik: Yes, yes, so I’m looking, so right now I’m literally looking down at my Apple watch. I have selected the bottom middle, oh I forget what they’re called, one of the options there. There’s like a timer, there’s my, there’s also my, I’m forgetting what it’s called, I can’t believe I’m doing that, I’m blanking.
Chantal: I can’t help you out, I don’t have one.
Erik: Complications that’s what it is. It’s called a Complication and so there’s a little red dot there and so right now I’m going to press that. Right now on my watch, I’m seeing a counter happen and there’s a big red stop button, and it is literally recording me on my end say this. What’s great is, the microphone on the Apple watch is actually really, really good.
Erik: I mean if anybody that has one has taken a phone call on there, people pretty much can’t tell you’re talking through your wrist instead of your phone.
Chantal: That’s amazing. Onc you’ve recorded that file, where does it go? Where is it stored? What happens to it?
Erik: Yes. There’s a syncing that happens between any and all of the places that you have this app installed. Right now, let me talk through the process, so that file was just recorded on my watch, it’s now syncing to my phone and it’s then from my phone also syncing through to my Dropbox.
Erik: Yeah. My phone through Wifi is sending it to my Dropbox and then I can grab that audio file when I get back to my desktop. Say I’ve got like a rough draft of, or an idea of something and I’m having a brainstorming session. Or hey, maybe I’m sitting down and actually talking with somebody really quick, and we go back and forth, I mean I recorded it on my watch. It’s just genius the way this thing syncs.
Erik: The great thing is like, I can also press the record button either right on my phone and record it there. Or I can even hold my phone up so it doesn’t look like … It looks like I’m walking around talking to somebody on the phone instead of talking into my watch and people wondering what’s going on.
Chantal: Looking like a secret agent.
Erik: Exactly, but also it has that same thing on the desktop as well. Yeah. Being able to capture those creative ideas no matter where you are and for me especially to be able to talk it out and not have to like sit there and feel the pressure of, oh my gosh, I have to type this in it’s got to be perfect, you know what I mean?
Erik: There’s kind of a barrier, a creative block if you will that I think I get asked because I’m just brainstorming and getting my drafts out of my head and into something I can work with.
Chantal: You know what, I feel like creative ideas generally come at a time that you’re not sitting behind your desk and got your laptop with you. You know so often your inspiration comes at a time when you might be out in about or in a different environment or with different people, so that’s such a great app to have. Can I just go back and clarify now. Obviously that works with iPhone. Does it work on Android as well?
Erik: You know what, I don’t know. Unfortunately I am not somebody who’s cross-platform in that sense.
Chantal: [inaudible 00:10:15].
Erik: I’m pretty sure that there are definitely other memo types that sync to Dropbox and things like that, so it’s definitely a possibility for sure.
Chantal: Oh cool, and do we know how much that app costs?
Erik: That ones not much, I think it’s like two ninety-nine I think.
Chantal: Oh that’s amazing. Okay, let’s kep going. That was Just Press Record. What else do we have for being creative?
Erik: As far as another option for being creative, one of the tools that I use is as an app it is called Trello. This is also, this could also be something that’s about being organized, but what I do is, again, I will put a lot of different ideas into Trello. It’s like having a lot of different note cards and it allows you to have it almost like a giant pin board up on a wall, but it’s your desktop.
Erik: There’s also IOS and Android access and apps to this and you can even use it with teams. You as a team could even go in and you could say oh well, they got this far with this idea, now I’m going to move it off that board and into another board. It’s kind of like moving it from left to right as the progress is being made in those creative ideas.
Chantal: Tell me if I’m right with this, because I’m thinking that this is a great place to kind of collate your ideas things like projects or presentations.
Erik: Yes definitely, yes. It is very much like that. I mean again it’s like almost having a giant board on the wall that’s covered in stickies, but they’re laid out in different categories from left to right. You kind of move them from left to right as they move through different phases of completion.
Chantal: Wow! That to me sounds like a really amazing planning tool and so you called it Trello, T-R-E-L-L-O?
Erik: That’s correct, yes. It’s free and there’s some plug ins and some paid like add-ons and different things like that. We use this at Social Media Examiner and we don’t pay for it, so we are all using the free version for at least two plus maybe three years now. All across the organization we’re using it for different things.
Chantal: I’m going to check that out. I love the sound of that. Okay, do we have anything else on the creative app front?
Erik: Let’s see here. I know there may be another one I can pull out that will work well for creative. It may be as simple as just having an RSS reader filled with things that are creative inspiration, like using Feedly for that. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that.
Erik: Feedly is basically the ability to, you know any website that you’re interested in, you can go to Feedly, Feedly.com and you just type in, let’s see for example, what, I’ll use Social Media Examiner. You type in that name and then it’ll say you want to subscribe, and you say yes. Then every time you go to Feedly it’ll show you all the new stuff that has come through from that website, every single article et cetera.
Erik: I go there. I do this, because so that way I don’t have to go to every single site, you know site by site by site. I go to one place and then I can say, oh, here’s all the new articles and I can then save them, share them et cetera right from there.
Chantal: Is it kind of like doing a Google search, but through an app?
Erik: Yes, and it’s without doing having to do the searches over and over again.
Erik: You search for it, you type the name in once and then it always will make you … It’s almost like setting up a TiVo for websites, where every time there’s a new piece of content from that website, it will then be pulled into your feed there in Feedly.
Chantal: Awesome. Love the sound of that. Okay, let’s go on to our third category, which is saving time. Tell us what you’ve got.
Erik: Okay, so this is one that’s going to save you tons of time. If you don’t know about this you’re missing out, it’s called If This Then That.
Chantal: Oh I’ve heard of this, tell us a little bit about it. Yeah.
Erik: Yeah, so this is, If This Then That, and what it does is, it allows you to create automated workflows for a number of things. For example, I have it set up, oh so here’s one that I have set up. I have it set up so that between, it connects the Alexa app or I should say A-L-E-X-A so that it doesn’t activate everybody’s devices.
Erik: What you do is, it will connect that Amazon audio device so that if I say, “Hey device, add such and such to my To Do list,” and so then from there it’s got a connection where it sends an email to the email address that’s connected with my things, task manager system like we talked about earlier.
Erik: It will then send that email to Things. Things receives it and then it will place what I said as a task into my inbox. The connectivity isn’t there for things and Alexa to talk to each other, but If This Then That can connect them, so there’s all these different like different connections. Like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and a number of different like home automation things, like Hue lights and all those kinds of things.
Erik: I mean you can just go in and you can start to imagine the possibility of connecting this one service to this other service. When this one thing happens on this one service, trigger this other thing to happen on this other service, and it’s just, it’s kind of mind boggling. It can seem overwhelming, but you can go in there and you can start to scroll through some of the examples and suggestions, and even the top quote recipes that are created by people for using on these different services.
Chantal: Okay, I’m going to try and write this down into a really simple [inaudible 00:16:07]. You tell me whether I’m on the money with these or if I’m completely on the wrong track. What I’m thinking is, let’s say for example I put out a social media post on my Facebook page. I want that post to also be emailed to a group that I’ve set up in my Google mail, can I get, If This Then That to perform that task automatically?
Erik: Yes, you should be able to do that. There should be a way to create a recipe, so when you post to your Facebook page, that the page would then say, the connection with If This Then That would notify what was the other part? It was the email.
Chantal: [inaudible 00:16:54] Gmail.
Erik: The Gmail, yeah, it would notify the email and the Gmail to then connect and send an email to that list.
Chantal: Wow! Okay. I’m thinking Erik that what we need to do with this, is we need to jump on ourselves. We all need to jump on and take a look at those recipe examples that you just mentioned, because that might give us the inspiration of how it’s going to be best utilized and most relevant for each of us individually.
Erik: Yes. There are so many different uses and different ways to use this. Just another example here is, any time that you post a video to Instagram, it can automatically have that video then saved to a specific Dropbox folder, so it’s backed up for you already.
Chantal: Oh boom. Okay.
Chantal: Yeah. That’s really cool. Okay. Well are there any other time savers that we need to know about?
Erik: One of my most incredible time savers and this is for IOS, this is for Windows, this is for, there’s all different platforms. It’s TextExpander. TextExpander is basically being able to create shortcuts for large or frequently used pieces of text. For example, one of the ones that I do because I’m a podcaster is I have a link that I send people all the time, which is a link to my Calendly booking calendar.
Erik: I don’t want to have to remember www. whatever the URL dot whatever/Erik J. Fisher, all these kinds of things. It’s just a URL that I’m never going to remember and I don’t have to remember it. What I do is, I’ve created a snippet inside of TextExpander, so that any time I type X-C-A-L, I type Xcal, it says bloop and that link shows up, it’s pasted.
Chantal: Oh that’s amazing.
Erik: It’s not just for URLs though, like again I can have any number of different frequently needed URLs set up exactly that same way. I just need to remember what the specific code is and again, because it’s TextExpander, I try to and I heard this tip from somebody, start most of my snippets with an X. Then I won’t accidentally type something else, because hardly any words start with X.
Erik: Not only that, but I can do like full blown email replies that I always remember. I always reply with, “Thanks for writing me …” Oh, here’s one, I know there’s people who are always trying to write for Social Media Examiner where I work and they send me email or a request pitching their stuff. Well I’m not on the editorial team but there is a URL that we want people to go through. It’s Social Media Examiner.com/writers.
Erik: Well, for a long time I was putting S-M-E-W, so from me to Examiner writers as my snippet. Then what I did was, beyond that I added like two or three sentences. I said, “Thank you so much for offering to write for us. We’d love to have you. We have, we direct everybody to this URL to propose their writings and it goes straight to the editorial team. Here’s the link,” and then there’s the link.
Erik: Then I’ve typed S-M-E-W and everything I just said just goes bloop and it’s there.
Chantal: That’s a magic one [crosstalk 00:20:26].
Erik: I don’t have to write that, yeah. I don’t have to, it’s saves me minutes and hours now over the course of the amount of time that I’ve used just that one snippet. Imagine if you’d set up tons of snippets in here and in fact, when you frequently type things over and over in your computer, it starts to suggest snippets for you. It says, “Hey, you’re typing this a lot. Do you want to create a snippet for that?” It’s got your back.
Chantal: That is so cool and I’m just thinking about that in the context of our gym owners and our personal trainers. It means so often they’d be getting inquiries from people to say, “Hey, I’m really interested about your training. How much do you charge or how much is it for a PT session?” That is a great way to be able to have that preset answer ready to go, that you can just do that snippet.
Chantal: I don’t know about everyone else, but what I have done up until today, because I’m going to get this tool, is I always go back through, okay, when was the last time that I sent that email to that person? I just need to cut and paste it, but then you end up having to scroll through all your emails to find that last reply. I mean just love this TextExpander.
Chantal: Erik do you put this on, is this on your desktop and on your phone or?
Erik: Yes it is.
Chantal: That’s amazing.
Erik: Yeah. The real power of it is to be able to, you know how you switch keyboards while you’re on a mobile phone, your TextExpander comes up as one of those keyboard. You don’t have to use it all the time, but what you can do is, you press and hold and switch to that keyboard on your phone. Then all your snippets just work and they’re synced through.
Chantal: That is phenomenal. I love that.
Chantal: I think that’s my favorite so far of all of the apps that we’ve talked about. Now, tell us is there any other cool stuff that we need to know about?
Erik: I would be remissive if I did not tell you about Focus@Will. Focus@Will, this is one of those things where I’ve been using it for years now. What it is, it is, the best way to describe it is, it is music that as you play it especially in headphones and especially when you sit down and need to put your head down and really focus and get work done in front of a screen especially, it is music that kills that fight or flight mechanism in your brain and that distraction, that distracted part of your brain.
Erik: It’s music engineered to kill that, and it’s almost like the horses where they put the blinders on them, so they don’t look left or right. They just look straight ahead and they focus on what’s in front of them. They go straight, that’s what I kind of pretend that this is when I put my headphones on. It’s like nothing else is happening now except for me and this work, and you’d be amazed at how well this works.
Erik: I mean when I tried it years ago now, and I am actually a paid lifetime member. I paid in, it’s a couple bucks, it’s like five to nine dollars a month depending upon your plan. I opted in on that immediately, I guess it was like four years ago now. About two years ago I said, you know what, I’m done paying monthly. There’s a lifetime plan here and I think I put in like, I literally said, I’m going invest in this. I’m in for lifetime.
Erik: I put in like, I think it was like 150, 200 bucks. Not something you know, not nothing, but I figured you know what, like as long as they’re around, I’m locked in and I’m done. I use this daily.
Chantal: Wow! This is basically going, okay, I have a really important task that I need to complete that I know that I need to focus on and I can’t afford to have any distractions. I’m going to pop my headphones in, I’m going to press play on this app. Like what is it? Is it scientifically research?
Chantal: Like how [crosstalk 00:24:21]?
Erik: Yes. Yeah, there are scientific research behind it and it’s the idea is that, it is again, I call it music and it is. It’s also compositions, there’s no lyrics or anything, there’s no songs in here that you’d recognize. It’s not, it’s created music and there are different kinds of music too. It fits different modes, like there’s one in here called up tempo and that’s kind of like electronic music almost in a sense.
Erik: There’s one called focus spa, there’s one called alpha chill, that’s the one I end up using a lot of the time. There’s even classical music and even cinematic, it sounds like almost like you’re in a movie kind of score, but again it’s not there necessarily for entertainment’s sake. It’s there to preoccupy a part of your brain so that the remainder of your brain isn’t being distracted anymore.
Chantal: Wow! That’s a phenomenal suggestion, thank you so much for that Erik, I love that. Are there any others before we move on to our final question?
Erik: I mean that is my thing, you can’t miss it, that’s my top cool stuff you can’t miss.
Chantal: That is so cool, yeah, I love that. Okay, so let’s finish off with what we call is our fit inspiration. Put yourself in the shoes of a gym owner or a personal trainer, what would be your go to apps for marketing?
Erik: I’m going to go with the just the front brain top of mind answer here with this. My first app would be literally Instagram. I just think there’s so much of a visual component to, because again, not that it’s all about the way you look when it comes to physical fitness. Come on, even if that’s not what it’s about, there’s still that aspect to it for a lot of people, and that’s a secondary reason or even a third reason, I don’t know, depending upon what they’re going for.
Erik: People who are gym owners or personal trainers, like that, you want to show results and what better way than with a visual social media platform right?
Chantal: Yeah, absolutely and you’re not going to have any arguments from me. I’m a massive Instagram fan and one of the things that I like the correlation from a fitness perspective, is that the imagery and the videos that you find on Instagram, I mean I certainly haven’t come across anything negative. I feel like they’re always quite a positive mindset on Instagram, which I think is very relevant for our industry.
Erik: Yeah and the other key piece there is, there’s this huge aspect of discoverability, especially with being able to search for hashtags or follow hashtags or even topics as they are continuing to redesign. Then recently Facebook at their developer conference announced a lot of the tweaks and changes that they’re making to the discoverability and especially around topics when it comes to using Instagram.
Chantal: Yeah. That is a great one. Well I think that’s a fantastic recommendation and I’m pretty sure that I think most of our listeners should be on Instagram. Certainly if they want to dive into that topic anymore, want to learn a little bit more about it, I’m going to include some links in today’s show of the interview that we did with the one Sue Zimmerman last week, who really talks about some great detail on Instagram and Instagram stories.
Chantal: That is a great recommendation, and you know what I love about all of the different apps that we’ve spoken about today, I mean we’ve broke them up into four different categories. I feel like all of them contribute to being more efficient and more productive in the way that we work across all of those.
Erik: For sure, yeah. There’s a lot of crossover there. In fact, I’ll throw it out there, because I didn’t mention it earlier, but you could create, like if you have a standard certain, here’s the three, five, six, seven, whatever hashtags that aside from the ones that you’re going to search for and discover, hashtags that you’re going to use in every Instagram post, create a TextExpander snippet for that.
Chantal: I was just thinking that. That is such a great idea.
Chantal: What a time saver
Chantal: That’s so cool. You know the first, there’s two things I’m going to do straight off the back of us having this chat today. One is get TextExpander, because I think that was my absolute favorite and the second thing I’m going to do is check out that Focus@Will, because I am very much in need of a way to avoid distractions.
Chantal: I use a method currently, which I swear by, which is Amy Potterfield’s Tiger Time. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that before, but that’s what I use currently and I love it. I’m just thinking a combination of Tiger Time and Focus@Will could be an absolute winner, so thank you very much.
Erik: Oh yes. Definitely. You’re welcome.
Chantal: All right, Erik this has been so awesome. Listen, before we finish off today, we did speak very briefly about your podcast during our precook quick fire five, but just in case anyone hasn’t checked out beyond the two list, tell us really briefly about your own show.
Erik: Yeah. It’s a labor of love for me. I’ve been doing it for almost six years now, and got almost 250 plus episodes out there. Have lots of great conversations with lots of people going all into lots of different aspects of the productivity, how to balance your life, how to do working from home better, how to get out and about an even do something that with a friend of mine that I did called The productivity pub crawl, where you get out of the house and work from a bunch of different places all in the course of a day.
Erik: I don’t suggest going to literal pubs, it’s more like go to different coffee shops, things like that. Or you could end it, the last one could be a real pub.
Chantal: Yeah, fair enough.
Erik: You reward yourself, but yeah. It’s all about being more productive and being more productive in all aspects of life.
Chantal: That is so cool. Well everyone, we’re going to put the link to Erik’s show in today’s show notes and plus all those other links that we talked about. I’m going to do a little bit of research and find those for you, so it’s nice and easy. You can just jump over to Business Fitness Podcast.com. Check out the show notes for today’s episode and all of those acts and links that we talked about will be there for your convenience.
Chantal: Erik Fisher, thank you so much for joining us on the show today.
Erik: You’re welcome. This has been fun, thanks for having me.
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