I suddenly realize it’s Thursday afternoon, and wonder what happened to the week? It’s almost over. Was I productive this week? Did I work on my goals? How’s my business doing?
It’s often quite difficult to keep track of how your days are spent, and how your business is doing. I used to struggle tremendously with this. These days I struggle a bit less with it. I’m all about improving processes and getting to the most efficient way of doing things. But I’m also not the best and doing repetitive tasks consistently.
So I’ve put together a list of some of the apps I use in my business on a daily basis, and why. Hopefully some of these will be helpful to you!
There’s some confusion in the marketplace with the word ‘app’ these days, in that most of the time people understand an app to be something small, that does maybe one particular action. However ‘applications’ are commonly being referred to as apps as well. So in our context, an ‘app’ is a software system, whether it’s on the web, on your mobile phone, your desktop etc., that fulfills a particular purpose for the user. And that purpose could be a small piece of info, or running your business.
Some of the below apps are small plugins, some are full blown line-of-business systems. Most of them have a web, desktop and/or mobile component to them.
This first item on the list is an app that tracks all your time spent on your computer. It tracks what apps you’re using and what websites you’re on, and pulls it all into a great dashboard. RescueTime does a great job auto-categorizing apps and websites for you, and you can customize it if you don’t agree. Each app or site is then graded on how productive it is, and you can then start setting goals like ‘Spend more than 6 hours per day on productive time’. It’s a really great way to see where you’ve spent your time, and gives you the tools block distractions and focus on what’s important. Check out this article to learn more about why to track your time!
One of the ways that you can make sure that you’re focusing on important things, like sales, is to use a CRM and tracking follow ups and working leads through various stages. Hubspot produce some fantastic (albeit rather expensive) inbound marketing tools, but they also have a good CRM system. And it’s totally free. It’s got simple plugins that allow all your outbound emails to be logged against the contact in the CRM with zero extra effort. It’s a great tool to stay on top of the sales pipeline, keep in touch with contacts, and follow up on closed deals. All for free. Love it! Get the Free CRM for Small Businesses now.
Another great tool from the guys at Hubspot is Sidekick. This little app tracks emails. When you send an email out, it tracks opens and link clicks, and feeds all that info back to popup notifications on your PC. It also integrates seamlessly to Hubspot CRM, providing great feedback info straight into the CRM system. It also allows you to use templates and other nifty features, which all adds up to spending less time on your email, and getting better actionable insight.
One of my favourite apps from Microsoft is OneNote. Essentially a place to write some notes, it really helps my productivity because I can take, review and update notes on any device. OneNote works across Windows, Mac, phones, tablets and even in your web browser. It saves everything automatically as you type. And it syncs in almost real time. A great way I’ve found for using it is by grabbing my tablet computer and a stylus, and writing all my notes directly in OneNote instead of on paper. This then automatically syncs all my notes instantly to my PC, and makes all my handwritten notes searchable. Yes, you can search handwritten text. Brilliant! All your notes on all your devices. And it’s free. Excellent app.
Read related blog post here – Using OneNote to get organized.
If you’re anything like me, then having to do social media posts regularly at certain times of the day gets very old very quick, and within days I’ve stopped doing it. Buffer is an app that lets you build up a queue of posts which are then sent out on a set schedule, on each social platform. So you can spend an hour, build up a list of posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, and Buffer will post 3 times a day (or however often you like) at whatever times you want, until the queue runs out. You can setup separate queues and schedules for each platform as well. Really great time saver that helps get you connect with more people on social networks.
Ok so SumoMe is actually a collection of apps, but I love them! SumoMe is completely free for the basic options, and provides a bunch of tools to give your website super powers. Some of the main features on SumoMe are all about building your email lists and finding out how people use your website. It takes about a minute to get up and running, and gives you actionable insights, and boosts email signups. An excellent set of apps to help your website help your business. Take a look at the SumoMe Showcase for some great ideas on how to use their apps.
Autotask is a platform that I use every day. It’s classified as a PSA (professional services automation) tool. Basically it runs my business – from contract management, projects and service desk, to sales and time and billing. It powers the full operational processes I use everyday. The reason I’m listing Autotask is because it’s saved me so much time and boosted my productivity every day. How? By capturing all the info on our processes, I get excellent reporting and dashboards that show me exactly what’s happening in my business, giving me actionable business intelligence. I can see how our service desk is performing, how our financials are looking, what projects we have on the go, and the list goes on. It also has a powerful workflow engine allowing me to automate a large number of simple tasks on the service desk. Autotask is designed for IT companies, but when it comes to managing a custom app development business, I’ve found that most of the processes are a perfect fit for Autotask.
There you have it. These are just a few of the apps I use on a daily basis to help boost my productivity. Hope they can help you too. 🙂