Our schedules are always run-and-gun, which means iPhones and iPads are essential components in our arsenal of communication and design tools. We frequently find clients, friends and colleagues asking how we are able to manage so much work when we’re out of the studio. Our secret weapon: we’ve discovered some cool apps.

If there was ever a time to be a small business, that time is now. Yes, there are challenges galore, fears of the unknowns, and the constant job of doing more with less – but let’s focus on the positive. For the past two years, we have been overwhelmed with just how many resources there are for little, to no cost that make running a small, creative business easier. All in favor of keeping overhead down and productivity up? We are too. Efficient work makes for more downtime to unplug and re-energize with inspiration. Each app we’re about to share with you will help you increase your productivity around the office and elevate creativity on the go.

We use an abundance of apps throughout our work week – whether researching, designing, or managing a project. Here are the ten apps we just can’t go without.

Design Based Apps:

Autodesk Sketchbook – A very user friendly and nimble digital drawing app, perfect for on the spot sketching. Grab a stylus for the best precision and start choosing from a variety of pens, brushes and markers.

Adobe Photoshop Express – Quick editing and photo manipulation virtually anywhere. It’s like Photoshop’s little cousin – simply touch to crop, rotate, adjust color, and add artistic effects. Now you can show on the go with an online library.

Houzz – Inspiration by the truckload. A new platform for design professionals to showcase their portfolios. Create Ideabooks and tag images to catalog a wealth of high quality photos for your next home project or visioning boards.

Adobe Ideas – Express your ideas how they were meant to be – design using layers, vectors and color schemes. All which can then be transferred into Photoshop or Illustrator for the final touches.

Pandora and Spotify (yes, music makes for better design) – Pandora is an oldie, but goodie. Perfect for office background tunes. Spotify helps to discover new music and share it with your friends.

Getting Things Done (GTD) Apps:

Flow – Want to keep track of everything you need to get done? This app is a new way to keep your personal and professional life organized in one place. With the ability to create, delegate, and discuss tasks, Flow takes productivity to the max.

Harvest – Our go to app for time keeping and invoicing. We’ve introduced many friends to Harvest, and even appeared in their New Founders Program in early 2011. A must have app, these guys have developed an exceptional product with even better customer service.

HootSuite – All of your social media platforms kept neatly organized and managed in one place. The ability to create lists, schedule tweets, and manage posts makes social media convenient and efficient.

Dropbox – Online file sharing made so easy, a caveman could do it. No more overloaded inboxes or fumbling jump drives. DropBox offers up to 3GB of storage for your files. Their only competition, the endless possibilities of iCloud.

CalenGoo – Makes sure both business, and personal calendars always stay synced. Share work calendars with clients and interact with colleagues, all while scheduling meetings on the go. Now just be sure to plan your Friday afternoon to disconnect.

We know there are many other fantastic apps out there. Let us know which ones are your must-haves, or which ones are your guilty pleasures.