Published by: Christina R. Green
Adopting new technology isn’t easy, but when you find something that works and increases your productivity, you kick yourself for not having done it sooner. That’s how I feel about Buffer’s Pablo and Adobe’s Spark. But this article isn’t about image software (although those two I mentioned are game-changing – and free!! — and you need to check them out).
This list doesn’t include obvious tools like Buffer, DropBox, Hootsuite, Skype, and Evernote because you probably already know about those. These lesser-known apps will help you focus on your goals and keep you accountable.
Ever wonder where your day went? RescueTime can tell you. This complete (perhaps frightening) insight into your day details the exact amount of time you spent on applications and websites and makes suggestions to increase your productivity. The app works for Mac, Android, PC and Linux. They have a free lite version. The paid version offers more robust reporting and the ability to block distracting sites for $72 a year. The first four months are free if you pay annually.
MyMinutes is a similar app that lets you set blocks of time to spend on a given task (like checking emails). When your time is up, it alerts you.
How often have you stumbled across something of interest on the Internet and leave it open in a tab with the intention of revisiting it later? Then, guess what? You forget. If you’re still thinking you’ll come back to those articles someday, Pocket is for you. This free save-for-later app allows you to clip articles, videos and other interesting content from the web to read later. Best of all, you don’t need an Internet connection to look at your saved info. The app is free but can be integrated into your Hootsuite dashboard for $2.99 a month.
You Need a Budget is billed as a way to get control of your money, but it can be especially helpful for a small business owner to get a better view on where the money is going. It helps you assign every dollar a job for better insight into your finances. This software is more than a once-a-month balancing of the checkbook app. Usage of it becomes a habit, which helps you cut non-essential costs. You can try it for free for 34 days. It’s $50 a year or $9 a month.
If you’re a solopreneur, a business person who works out of a virtual office, or even an owner of several businesses, you may have a need for multiple phone lines but don’t want to deal with the hassle of multiple phones. With Flyp you can manage several extensions through one device, and make calls and texts from your various lines. The first number is free; each additional number is $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year.
With CamCard you can scan business cards for more effective use of the information. The app stores your contact info in the cloud so it’s available anywhere you have an Internet connection. It works on iPhone and Android devices. Sign-up is free.
There are a number of software tools, apps and plug-ins that can help you increase your productivity. While there is a time investment in learning to use them and making them part of your daily e-habit, the time saved is often worth it in the end. Still, with technology you need to find something you like that works for you. App developers spend large amounts of time working on the user-experience so most of the apps of today are extremely easy to use with a minimal learning curve. However, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy using it. In order for it to become part of your daily habit and help you become more productive, you have to like it, so audition a few until you find one that’s just right.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.