Smartphones have led to the development of hundreds of thousands of mobile apps that can make working mothers’ work and home lives run more smoothly. But sorting through them is no simple feat. So I have asked working mothers to share the apps they use for better work/life balance.
Liliana Paez runs two businesses, travels at least once a month for work, and raises two children, ages 4 and 6. She uses Dragon Dictation, a free app that uses voice recognition to type text messages, create emails or compile to-do lists on the go. She says the simple app allows her to get business done from her car without touching her screen.
Ms. Paez is sales and marketing director at Key International, a Miami real estate sales company, and CEO of Global Smart Products, a company that sells innovative products through infomercials. She regularly needs to meet with manufacturers abroad or designers in cities across the United States. She uses the GoToMeeting app on her iPad (free and paid versions available): “I can see what the other person has on his computers, where their mouse goes and we can talk in detail about renderings.”
In many homes, moms handle the family finances. Tammie Purow balances her job as a Miami trusts and estates attorney with being the mother of twin 15-year-old boys and twin 11-year-old girls. To keep organized, she uses Bill Keeper. The free app allows her to manage and track bills and reminds her when a payment is due.
“As I pay the bill, I check it off on the app,” Ms. Purow says. She finds Bill Keeper also helps her keep in her budget: “I usually try to pay a bill a day so at the end of the month, I don’t get overwhelmed. I look at what’s next on the list and pay it from my phone.”
For moms who work from home, there are apps to help stay connected to the office. Merci Suarez, mother of two and a young hands-on grandmother of two, runs her husband’s pediatric office in Pembroke Pines from home as often as possible. “I tend to use every app that is office-related so I don’t have to drag my rear end to the office,” Ms. Suarez says.
One of her favorites is Adobe Reader mobile app (free, Pro Edition $4.99), which allows access to PDF files on the go. She will open a file, make changes, highlight sections, sign it with a finger and fax or email it back to the sender from her phone. She also uses the free CamCard app to photograph business cards and quickly store the information in her phone and other devices.
Moms who commute are discovering that apps that cut down drive time are great finds. Vivian Conterio, a Homestead mother of an 11-year-old daughter and a marketing director at Cool de Sac children’s entertainment center, commutes — often 30 miles a day — for her job. She relies on Waze, a free mapping, traffic and navigation app.
Waze gives directions, but it also allows users to share accident and road information in real time, making it easier to avert traffic jams and congestion.
She also relies on the free service IFTTT.com. “If this then that” allows users to connect different apps and sites to create their own “recipe” or action they want their media channels to perform. She has created a recipe that will automatically send photos from her Gmail to a Dropbox folder.
Of course, working mothers know the best uses of applications often are for tempering frustration levels. Paula Rizzo, as founder of Listproducer.com, hates wasting time on hold to get through to customer services representatives — the bane of most busy working mothers.
She uses the free Fast Customer app, which links into many companies and navigates through phone trees. She also says that the free TalkTo app is one of her favorites: With it, she can communicate with any business across the country to find out if there’s an item in stock, what the price is, or to make an appointment.
Instead of trekking all the way to the grocery store after work, hoping they have, say, golden beets, she just sends a text — even if the business is closed. Ms. Rizzo says TalkTo will get back to her when the store reopens.
Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org