If you’re ready to streamline your processes and take back some precious time for business-building, technology is where it’s at, writes digital expert and author of The End of Technophobia, Tracy Sheen. She shares her top ten apps and digital solutions that will boost your productivity and benefit your business.
As business owners, we’re always looking to work smarter and get more time for ourselves. So it’s not surprising that there are many apps to boost productivity.
All those options can be overwhelming, but remember: a recent Xero report found that business owners who leverage technology saw a 106 per cent increase in productivity over those who are more technophobic.
So here are my top ten productivity apps.
1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A CRM lets you manage and engage with your clients more effectively. It means all client activity is on one handy dashboard.
If you don’t have a CRM, I guarantee your most significant productivity boost will come from one. I’ve used many over the years: my current pick is HubSpot.
2. Trello or Asana
Trello and Asana are project management tools. They keep you and your team focused on goals and deliverables, with clear sight on what everyone’s doing. A centralised system cuts down the noise on internal communications channels and gets everyone on the same page.
These two are equally good in my book.
Slack is an internal communication tool to keep your conversations organised and in one location. No more hunting through emails and no more ‘losing’ information when team members leave and their old emails go into a black hole.
Todoist lets you capture everything that’s on your To Do list in one place. You can include recurring dates for tasks and subtasks, with priority levels and reminders. It’s simple to set up and you can delegate tasks to team members.
If you’re using a CRM that doesn’t include a task manager, or if you’re a lists kind of person, you’ll love Todoist.
IFTTT stands for If This, Then That and it’s the swiss army knife of productivity apps. Use it to connect apps and create automations for any action that always has a following action.
Create handy shortcuts like posting a photo on social media as soon as you tag it, or interfacing a weather app with your smart home controls. Get inspired by their website which shows how others are using it.
Zapier is like IFTTT but for business software. It gets apps to ‘talk’ to each other and share information. You can automate tasks between platforms and ensure your data flows to the correct sources.
7. Online Scheduling
Behind a CRM, your quickest productivity win is an online scheduling app. With just one link, people can find a day and time in your calendar that suits them – no more to-and-fro trying to find a mutually suitable slot.
Evernote stores and organises your notes. It syncs across devices, so you’re never without your notebook. With excellent search functionality, you can even scan handwritten notes to keep everything together.
The reMarkable tool is for people who like to take handwritten notes but without the distractions of a connected device. While technically a tool and not an app, its fantastic back end will convert handwriting to text, sync your notes and share them.
It has exactly the feel of writing on paper but without generating more things that need further handling.
If you’re easily distracted, then Engross can help improve your concentration. Inspired by the Pomodoro technique, it has a timer and can block other apps. It also features a button to tap when you are distracted, which compiles stats on the times you’re most focused.
Just remember …
There are many options in all these categories; most are equally good. Don’t waste time polling people on their preferences because their needs may not match yours. Just pick one and give it a try; toss a coin or pick a name out of a hat.
Most have a ‘freemium’ option, where you can try a free version with less functionality before you pay for more features.
Whatever the app you’re looking for, always choose one that can be quickly learned and can scale with your business. The sooner you see the productivity wins that come from leveraging technology, the better off you and your business will be.
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