Glimmering sparkles of kindness, compassion, and generosity

are often reflected in humanity during chaotic times. Despite the extreme economic and operational toll that this virus is taking on many businesses, we, at Timber Industries and iEvolve Consulting, have witnessed many small businesses and vendors offering free consultation sessions, online support, and funds as a way of paying it forward. We wanted to contribute. Our team compiled a list of 5 FREE lifestyle and business apps that we are using throughout this crisis to help us navigate virtual work/life with social distancing:

Canva – “Design anything.”

Looking to craft beautiful, eye catching announcements and updates for your business? Canva is a FREE tool that my social media team uses to design nearly everything – announcements, updates, blog banners, infographics, Instagram stories, Facebook announcements, etc. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional graphic designer, Canva is a great place to start producing aesthetically pleasing promotional materials and social media content.

Canva features an easy-to-use interface, and the BEST part? They offer FREE templates. If you don’t have an eye for design, this app is perfect for you. Simply select an appropriate template and insert your graphics and text. The app offers both free version and paid versions, but for those with small budgets, the free version gives you a TON to work with. Think icons, stock images, color palettes, and templates for any social platform.

Another plus, Canva allows you to create graphics in perfect dimensions. Have you ever posted a photo on one social platform only to find it stretches and looks strange on another platform? With Canva, you can use templates to make sure your promotional materials are exactly the right dimensions. Talk about efficiency…yes, please!

Of course, for major projects, we use our wonderful graphic designer, Sarah Koch of SK Creative Solutions, but if you’re just getting started, get your feet wet with Canva before you take the plunge of hiring a full-time graphic designer.

Zoom – Virtual Conference Rooms, Webinars, and Meetings

Since in-person meetings are no longer possible (our whole team is now working remotely,) we’ve had to get creative with how we communicate! Zoom is perfect for this, and the free plan gives you nearly everything you need to hold regularly scheduled meetings via video conference.

Zoom gives you the opportunity to communicate with your team remotely in real-time via video or phone call. The free plan gives you unlimited 1 to 1 meetings, Video Conferencing and Group Collaboration features, security, and online support. As with Canva, Zoom offers paid plans with additional capabilities, but the free plan allows you sufficient tools to connect with remote team members.

Instacart Shopper – “Groceries Delivered in as Little as 1 Hour.”

Stuck inside? Need groceries? Instacart is grocery shopping done for you that delivers groceries to your door. The free app allows you to add products to your cart from local grocery stores, and on its homepage, Instacart highlights deals and suggested products, making shopping even easier.

As if it couldn’t get better, Instacart can deliver groceries within an hour of placing an order, depending on the time and traffic on the app. A member of our staff even lives in a rural area where Uber Eats and Postmates do not service, but Instacart is readily available.

If you’re looking for a tangible way to pay it forward and care for your employees, consider sending them some necessities via Instacart.

Apple Podcasts (or wherever you like to listen) – Learn & Grow

Time at home means lots of time to learn new things! What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time? Start today! Whether you’re looking for online marketing knowledge, education help for your kids, or an entertaining break from the news cycle, podcasts offer a great source of knowledge and escape.

One of our favorite business-related podcasts is “Marketing School” by Neil Patel. Patel offers 7-minute-long episodes designed to teach you what you need to know about online marketing and SEO (search engine optimization.) If you find yourself scrambling to adjust to virtual business, taking 7 minutes to invest in business altering online marketing strategies is a must.

As for entertainment, one podcast our staff is loving right now is Crime Junkie. On Crime Junkie, 2 best friends, Ashley and Britt, discuss missing persons cases, murders, and conspiracies. With a new episode released each Monday, the friends provide ample entertainment to break up the remote workday or an interesting listen for a home workout.

Scanner Pro – Efficiency at its MAX.

Scanner Pro is a free scanning app that allows you to scan documents from your phone. If you find yourself without a printer at home, don’t fret! You can still scan documents. With Scanner Pro, scanning is as simple as hovering your phone over a document. Then, your phone detects the document’s edges and voila! Your document is scanned and ready to e-mail or upload. While the wireless ability to scan might not seem like a life changer, it can certainly save you frustration and eliminate communication barriers. Scanner Pro is an essential for businesses looking to maintain some sense of normalcy in this time.

While this list highlights a few of the apps we love and use every day, I recognize there are many fantastic free apps out there. What apps are you and your team using right now? Comment below. I would love to hear from you!