Five Apps to Help Get You Organized for the New Year

As we edge closer to the beginning of another year, many of us are starting to think about those New Year’s resolutions. Every year, millions of people decide that this is the year they’re going to lose weight, quit those bad habits, and start eating better — however you define that diet. For me, 2012 is going to be the year of getting organized. As a child, I was organized to the point of potentially having a problem; all of my books were organized by height and color, and my closet was something a professional closet designer would envy. Now, I’m slightly less symptomatic of someone who could be diagnosed in the DSM-IV, and my general chaotic lifestyle needs a little organization. Luckily, there are several great apps that can help get me — and those like me — get back on track as part of a resolution to get more organized.

Mint

Do you find yourself constantly struggling between your budget and your bank accounts? You may have heard of Mint.com before. It is an extremely well-designed and intuitive app that securely imports all of your bank account and loan information so you can see what,¬†where, and when you’re spending. You can also input your total income to help design a budget based on outgoing and incoming finances. Are you trying to limit how many lattes you purchase per month? You can set a limit on how much you want to allot per month in coffee expenditure, and Mint will alert you when you’ve surpassed your budget. Mint.com also features an iPhone and iPad app, so you can constantly check your budget and stay within your limit wherever you may be — which is great when you’re out shopping, dining, and grabbing happy hour, but dont want to touch your budget for bills or groceries by having too much fun with the girls on a Saturday afternoon.

LastPass

Most people have two methods for remembering passwords, and neither of them are safe. Likely, you either have one password for every single website you visit (including your online banking and email), or you keep a notebook next to your computer at home with your passwords for each website. In the event one of your accounts gets compromised, the chances that all of your other online accounts may now be at risk is much greater. Additionally, should your house be robbed — or someone you don’t trust gain access to that Post-it note next to your computer — you can say goodbye to the security of all of your online accounts. My favorite solution is using a program like LastPass to securely store all of my online passwords. LastPass creates a secure online vault of all of your passwords — even for websites on which you have multiple accounts (such as Twitter or Gmail) — and allows you to autofill these passwords when you use an extension on browsers like Chrome. You just need one password to access all of your passwords and, since it is Web-based, you can access your passwords anytime, anywhere. So if you’re visiting a friend for the weekend and using their computer, you can use LastPass to securely retrieve your various passwords without needing to bring your notebook of passwords with you.

Evernote

Earlier this week I mentioned how Evernote changed the way I blogged, improving my organizational skills and consolidating ideas. Evernote is also a great tool for those looking to generally organize their lives better. One thing I didn’t mention is how I’m using Evernote to compile recipes and shopping lists for my new vegan diet using notebooks, sub-notebooks, and pictures. The Evernote bookmarklet for Chrome has made this painless, as I can clip selections of text from a webpages, just pictures, or an entire page (such as a recipe that includes a picture) directly into a notebook. Since Evernote has a mobile component, I can just bring my phone to the store and have instant access to my shopping list and recipes without forgetting the list at home. For those making a resolution to diet in 2012, this is a must-have app to stay on track. (Similarly, this can be useful for those creating fitness routines.)

Read It Later

Always on the go? You likely don’t have time — or the luxury — to sit on your laptop all day and read the latest in business news, tech trends, and celebrity gossip. Read It Later is an essential tool that allows you to surface interesting blog content and quickly save it to read later (hence the name of the app). You can use a bookmarklet on Safari or Chrome to add it to your Read It Later list, and then use the Web or an app on your iPhone, iPad, Android, or BlackBerry to access your list offline. You can sort your Read It Later list by oldest, newest, title, and site of the link, and also search the entirety of the content appropriately to find exactly what you are looking for.

Things

If you just have too much to do to stay organized, consider spending a few dollars and investing in a system to help you get all these things done. The appropriately named app called Things (available for Mac OS X and iOS users) can help you organize your to-do list to help you accomplish all the tasks in your life. There is space to create tasks for specific projects, areas (in which you can place projects), and even the ability to assign tasks to people to help you remember who’s responsible for getting those things done. Things is not cheap — it’s priced at $49.99 in the Mac App store — but for those who need a personal and powerful productivity suite that also syncs with your iPhone or iPad, there is no better option.

Is getting organized one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2012? If so, what are some apps and tools that will help you out? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.