Let’s be honest: we are all prone to fall victim to procrastination. Or we get sidetracked from work by a new email, or a link to an article we saw on our Facebook timeline. It is easy to say to yourself that “it only takes a moment” and then you go back to your tasks. But soon it’s 5 p.m. and you realise that you didn’t deal with all of the things you had planned for that day. This means that, instead of putting an end to your work day, you will have to work overtime to finish all your tasks – or postpone them for tomorrow and overburden your schedule.
This little scenario will be familiar to many small business owners and entrepreneurs. Not being accountable to a boss gives you a false sense of freedom to do as you please, and this will negatively impact your productivity. Thankfully, other entrepreneurs who have struggled with these problems have developed a series of tools for smartphones and computers to help other business owners stay focused on work.
These are our top picks:
A sobering, wake-up call for many entrepreneurs is finding out exactly how much time they are losing on the social media, on their favourite sports website and on taking care of a virtual pet (yes, a lot of people still do it). Once you realise that you have lost valuable hours with these small, insignificant interruptions (as you consider them), you will certainly want to do something about it.
And you can, with the help of RescueTime. Once you have the full report prepared by the app after tracking your online activity, you can choose to block specific websites during your working hours. Also, you can use RescueTime to track your time offline, so that you know exactly how much time you spend in a staff meeting or discussing with prospective clients.
This app is hugely popular to boost teamwork productivity – but it is also great if you are a one-man show, running a small business. With Evernote, you will never lose a great idea because you couldn’t stop from a task to jot it down, or because you are in a taxi on the way to a business meeting.
Evernote helps you quickly type in an idea, edit a PDF file, and allow several team members to work on the same document and add their own ideas, without having to actually meet with them. Once you reach the office after the business meeting, you will have the feedback and further suggestions already added to your original note.
Five million users cannot be wrong – and this is the number of entrepreneurs and professionals who have installed Todoist on their smartphones to help them tackle their daily schedule with confidence and control. Todoist does much more than keep your schedule of activities (you can do that on a piece of paper, as well), it also allows you to add ideas, milestones, change deadlines, add more people in charge with completing a task, and get notifications from your team members whenever an important change is made to a task (completed, delayed, cancelled, etc.).
4. Inbox by Gmail
This is more than just an email client. This is the magic wand that brings order in your chaotic list of to-do tasks, online purchases, travel plans and – certainly – unread emails. With Inbox, all your emails are clearly categorised by type (Promos, Purchases, Trips) and you can access each of them as you need them, without having to scroll through a long list of emails.
Are you waiting for a delivery? Go to the Purchases tab and find out when it should reach you. Not sure if you remembered to check-in online for your upcoming flight? Go to the Trips tab. And whenever you want to make sure you don’t forget to make reservations for a business lunch, go to the Create tab, jot down the task and set an alert.
This one is for entrepreneurs juggling various applications, email and business tools accounts. It is only human to forget your password, especially if you use a different one for each separate account. 1Password helps you create strong passwords, less likely to be hacked, and fills them in for you on each platform. It works both on your smartphone and your computer, so you are covered wherever you are and on whichever device you are working on.