Lets face it we are all busy. Yes, we are all busy with work, but we are all also busy trying to achieve that pivotal work/life balance. If you are running a small business, you might even feel overwhelmed at times with all of the day-to-day tasks that are involved. So what is one to do? I recommend investing some initial time and effort into ingraining some productivity tools into your daily routine that will reap huge rewards for you and your sanity in the long run. Here’s a list of some of my favorite online tools to utilize for just that.
With Hackpad I am speaking from experience. Our digital marketing team uses this online platform as a collaborative document-editing tool to create and share documents with our team members. Each employee can view, edit, and access these online documents from anywhere ... this content lives in the cloud and is even accessible offline by mobile, desktop and tablet. You can tailor permissions, break projects into subtasks and monitor progress of to-do lists all in one place with Hackpad!
If you are involved in any aspect of social media marketing (SMM) like I am, Buffer can be a real time saver by allowing you to manage your social media accounts all from one place. This interface syncs with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ in real time, or can be used to schedule your Tweets for future dissemination. As an added bonus, Buffer offers a useful back-end analytics tool for your convenience. Touted as “the easiest way to publish on social media,” this app offers three Buffer for Business options, including Small Business ($50/month), Medium Business ($100/month), and Large Business/Agency ($250/month), but you can always just use the free version for personal use.
Again, another app that I can speak about from experience, Evernote is a great way to capture and organize ideas and notes. Rather than using paper for this, Evernote syncs with your desktop and mobile devices so you have access to your notes anytime and anywhere. At Imagine That, we typically use this app for taking notes during client meetings, but the possibilities seem to be endless. For example, one could gather web articles, handwritten notes, photos etc. from around the web and keep it with you all the time. Evernote includes a search feature that enables you to find anything you need with a click of a button. To make this productivity tool even more appealing, you can transform your notes into a presentation with a simple click of the mouse. Evernote has three subscription options; free, premium ($5/month), and business ($10/month). I have found that the free version is enough for us, but it really depends on how involved you want to be.
Similar in nature to Evernote, but without all the bells and whistles, Pocket is useful for saving articles, images, videos and other web-related stuff that you find interesting, but might want to read later. This app saves your content and allows it to be visible on any device, at any time, even if you are offline. Pocket is integrated with Twitter so you can share your content directly without going back to the Twitter app. “When you find something you want to view later, put in Pocket” is their mantra.
Another cloud tool, Dropbox is a mobile and desktop file-sharing tool that is especially useful for sharing large files within your own devices, other members of your team, and/or clients. This free tool is advertised as “Your stuff, anywhere,” and it seems to be just that. Everything is private (you control who sees what), as well as safe and secure … Dropbox encrypts your files with 256-bit AES encryption and a secure verification process. Worried about storage space? Try Dropbox For Business and get all the space you need. This might be one of the most powerful tools in Imagine That’s arsenal as it makes the sharing of files fast, easy, and accessible for those days when you simply cannot get to the office because of the two-feet of snow we just received.
Another invaluable tool that we utilize at Imagine That is Teamwork.com. Self-proclaimed as “The Most Powerful & Yet Simple Way to Manage Your Projects & Team,” Teamwork is just that. A project management app is crucial in our business with remote employees, office employees, and client activity taking place anywhere and everywhere on a daily basis with one easy to use interface. Reduce unnecessary meetings, email convolution and stress with this one-stop shop. You will know exactly where your projects stand at any give time with the added benefit of being able to track time spent on specific tasks. Teamwork.com is not only available via our desktop either – you can work where you need to be with the easy to use Android, IPhone and IPad apps.
A perfect fit for small businesses, OnePageCRM is a customer relationship management (CRM) system that easily helps you manage your company’s interactions with current and potential clients. With a focus on sales activity, OnePage helps you naturally move prospects and customers through a sales funnel with the ultimate goal being that final sale. One can save time with all the information needed right at your fingertips, including a simple way to manage contacts by keeping all of your contacts in one secure place, improving your focus by helping you to focus on what’s important, and integrating lots of other goodies that will streamline your sales process. If you don’t have the time or money for a dedicated sales team, this is one app that will do wonders for helping to grow your business.
If you are in a creative industry like me, Adobe Apps might just be the most useful tool on this list. With a plethora of apps all in one place, Creative Cloud will give everything you need to create, collaborate, and publish right at your fingertips, while Adobe Marketing Cloud provides you with a set of solutions to help you analyze what your digital marketing is doing. Since we only use the Creative Cloud option of Adobe Apps at Imagine That I can only speak to its usefulness, but I can say that the Marketing Cloud looks pretty cool (for lack of a better word). With such popular tools as After Effects, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro, all of your design, photography, web development, and video application needs are taken care of in one neat and tidy bundle. Even better, the new connected Creative Cloud works across both desktop and mobile devices. Adobe has tailored their membership levels that fit your needs, whether you need a single app or the whole collection. Students and teachers, individuals, governments, universities, and various size businesses have specific plans created just for them.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, my disclaimer is that these are currently some of my most useful productivity tools. There are a ton of options out there, and I would suggest you find the ones that work for you and your specific needs. However, this article is a great starting point for those that want to streamline their productivity at work, and therefore, productivity outside of work. The two go hand-in-hand don’t they?