Today’s post is a guest contribution from Victoria Greene, freelance writer and branding consultant.
One of the greatest challenges facing any entrepreneur is getting the most out of your working day. No matter how driven and enthusiastic you may be, it is all too easy to lose track of time, get hung up on minor details, or simply become distracted by other things.
Of course, a large part of maximizing your productivity is self-discipline. No amount of handy apps will solve the problem if you aren’t willing to meet them halfway. Of course, the fact you’ve gotten this far already shows that you’re ready to do your bit.
So here are a few of the most useful tools, apps, and websites to help you structure your workload, and maximize your potential.
Business cards can quickly begin to clutter your life. They often contain valuable contact information, yet they are difficult to keep track of, and can rapidly accumulate, especially after attending a few industry events.
CamCard enables you to quickly scan in these cards, tag and index them, and even add notes, schedule appointments, and attach files. A nice extra feature is that if you encounter another CamCard user, you can exchange business cards digitally, cutting out the clutter, and saving paper all in one breath.
Just like business cards, receipts are more clutter that you can’t afford to lose track of. Fortunately, Expensify takes all the work out of filing and organizing receipts, by allowing you to simply take photographs of them. You can also send your digital receipts to the app, so all your expenses are kept in one place.
This can save you a lot of time when it comes to organizing your accounts, and also means you no longer need to fret about whether any of your receipts have gotten lost in transit.
This handy Chrome extension replaces your New Tab page with a notebook. With basic formatting options, and a few nice touches such as the ability to create checklists, and paste in links. Your notes automatically sync to your account, across multiple devices, so the next time you open a new tab, they will be there waiting for you.
Inkflow styles itself as a Visual Thinker’s Notebook. The interactive workspace allows you to jot down notes, draw doodles or sketches, and even rearrange and rescale your notes. In addition, you can scan in physical notes and drawings, and add them to your workspace.
Unfortunately, this app is only available for iOS devices at present. However, it can be a great timesaver for the avid doodler, and a useful means of keeping all those ideas and reminders in one place.
A handy task manager and to do list generator, Todoist incorporates minimalist design with intuitive functionality to create a distraction-free interface for managing your daily objectives.
Data is automatically synced to your account and can be accessed across multiple devices and platforms. Tasks can be shared with other users, facilitating collaboration, and allowing you to oversee the development of projects in real-time.
As free productivity apps go, it is hard to beat Trello. The easy-to-use interface allows you to arrange tasks and projects on a series of “cards” and “boards”. You can attach files, invite others to view specific cards, set deadlines, and even link to other cards.
If you are working with a team, you can assign specific individuals to each card, view comments, and adjust permissions on a person by person basis, or for your team as a whole.
The app also offers a range of premium features, allowing you to upload larger files, and adding greater functionality to your boards. And with Trellofy, you can even use Trello to administrate your processes in Shopify.
Getting to the core of productivity optimization, RescueTime is a free time management application which tracks how you spend your time online. Each week you will receive a report, breaking down the amount of time spent on each site, and how frequently you visit them.
The premium option enables you to block specific websites to prevent you losing too much time on them. However, even without this functionality, RescueTime is a fantastic means of identifying where those lost hours have gone, and figuring out how you can adjust your habits to boost your productivity.
Once you have identified those problem websites that chew up so much of your time, you’re ready to go Cold Turkey. This free app allows you to temporarily block sites, and set a timer for the restriction.
The premium services offers increased functionality, enabling you to schedule restriction times, block applications, whitelist sites, and schedule breaks. This is an excellent way to remove some distractions from your working day, without expending too much energy on resisting temptation.
A beautiful concept, and a great productivity driver for reward-driven entrepreneurs, Forest incentivizes you to focus on a specific task by representing it as a growing tree. You begin by planting the seed for the task, and leave it to grow while you work towards your objective.
Over time, as you plant more seeds, and complete more tasks, you will grow a virtual forest, representing everything you have achieved so far. While this still requires you to be honest with yourself about the time you are putting into your objectives, it is a uniquely heartwarming tool, which provides a visual representation of your accomplishments.
Of course, there are countless other tools to be found, and some will be better suited to your needs than others. While automating tasks and organizing your workload can certainly take the pressure off, it is important not to overinvest in these applications. After all, if you have too many to manage, you could end up increasing your workload.
Remember, the goal is to boost your productivity, so you should weigh up the effectiveness of each app at achieving that aim. Anything that creates more work than it saves may not be right for you. Over time, you will find the optimal balance, although you should still keep an eye out for new and improved tools along the way.
After all, maintaining your success means constantly striving for improvement, so even when you are at the top of your game, be prepared to aim just a little higher, reach a little further, and increase your potential a little more each day.
Victoria Greene is a freelance writer and branding consultant. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and digital marketing. She is a passionate about using her knowledge to help businesses increase their online brand equity.