Small business productivity tools

Business owners and their employees are always keen to do more with less and work smarter not harder. The truth is that there’s a limit to how far either of these strategies will take you, as at some point you will need to increase your resources if you want to grow and no matter how smartly you work, running a business is hard work.

On the plus side, however, there is a lot you can do with what you have and you can go a long way by working smarter before you think about working (even) harder.

Here are 10 tools which could help.

Manage your email in a smart way with Outlook/Gmail/Apple Mail

You probably spend more time than you’d like to deal with your email inbox, but there are tools that can minimise the time and effort you spend there. All of the email clients above have a wide range of tools for managing your email so that only important emails are sent straight to your inbox and everything else is corralled into folders to be dealt with at an appropriate time.

If your email is getting in the way of everything else, then digging into your client’s more advanced tools is an excellent way to deal with the deluge.

In addition to managing email, all of these clients have contact-management functions and calendars. Outlook also has in-built task-management including the ability to delegate tasks. Google has Google Tasks, which show up when you look at your calendar on a desktop screen but not when you look at it on a mobile device or if you print it out. There are, however, apps, such as the free GTasks you can use to see your tasks on your phone and there is a Task Delegation add-on for Chrome. iTunes also has plenty of apps you can use for listing tasks as well as apps you can use to manage delegation.

Time your tasks with Pomodoro tools

The Pomodoro Technique is a way of getting yourself motivated and productive by working for shortish bursts of time, then taking a timed break before getting going again. Many people find it highly effective and, as a result, there are plenty of online tools that can help you with timing and alarms to keep you on track. Try Focus Booster, Pomodoro Keeper or Pomodoro Time Pro.

Communicate clearly with Slack and Skype

Slack and Skype both allow people to chat with each other – either by text or verbally. Slack is better suited to internal communications whereas Skype is better suited to external communications. Since both offer an extensive amount of functionality for free, it usually makes sense to have both.

Organise and delegate with Trello and Asana

Trello is basically the digital equivalent of sticky notes on a fridge and we mean that in a good way, it’s great for basic organisation and delegation. When you need more than that, then Asana is a great option, which is why it’s one of the most popular project-management tools there is, particularly in the SME market.

Keep your bits and bobs organised with OneNote/Evernote/Google Keep

We all know that in principle we should try to have a place for everything and put everything in its proper place. In practice, however, it’s a safe bet that many of us have a few places we put “stuff” to deal with it later. These are the apps for your digital stuff.

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