Time. There never seems to be enough of it.
business owners, we are always looking for ways to work better and save time.
That’s because often the more you get done, the more earn.
Used properly, business productivity apps help you become more productive. With the time you save, take on more paying projects or take some well-deserved time off.
Since most small business owners work from several devices, we focus on some of the best productivity apps in this article that can be used on either a desktop or a mobile device. We provide an overview of how each of these apps can help you become more productive. Also included, are links to Tuts+ tutorials on select work productivity apps so that you can master them quickly.
How Business Productivity Apps Can Save You Time
If you haven’t changed the way you handle routine business tasks recently, you’re probably wasting time and leaving money on the table. The newest business productivity apps can help you improve your workflow and save you time on a wide variety of tasks. And since you probably rely heavily on your mobile device for your business, the newest business apps also give you the option to work within multiple devices, from desktop to mobile.
In this tutorial, I provide an overview of the best apps to help you with seven specific types of tasks:
- Communications. In today’s business environment you can’t always wait for someone to answer an email right away. With these apps you get your message across immediately.
- Project Management. Whether you manage your own work or a small team, you want a good project management app to keep your project on schedule.
- Time Management. One way to manage your workday more proficiently is through better time management. Fortunately, there are apps that can help you measure and control how you use your time.
- To Do Lists. If you’re still relying on paper sticky notes to create your to do list, there’s a better way. A to do list app will help you track what needs to get done and what’s already complete.
- Workflow. A workflow is the process you use to perform tasks and complete projects. With better work productivity apps you can automate your workflow tasks and reduce the time it takes to meet your goals.
- Social Media. You don’t have to spend hours on social media to make it an effective part of your small business marketing plan. Use one of these apps to schedule your social media and improve your marketing automation.
- Administrative. Every business has routine administrative tasks they must perform to keep their business running. This article tackles two administrative apps: password management and file backups.
Let’s take a closer look at this curated selection of business productivity apps.
Good communication is vital to your small business. Miscommunication can wreak havoc. A delayed message can cause serious business problems.
Remote teams have become the work environment we need to thrive in today. As a small business owner your coworkers are more likely to be across the country than across the hall. That’s why it’s vital to have a good communications app.
While snail mail and email are effective for some messages, sometimes you need to connect with a contact right away. You need a quick way to communicate with team members, clients, and other colleagues.
Here are two of the best productivity apps to help you communicate in real time.
Skype, now owned by Microsoft, allows the user to make
individual or group phone calls, connect through video, or send messages. Other
Skype features include sending files and screen sharing.
Since Skype works on a variety of platforms, use it to communicate with almost anyone. You can even call non-Skype phone numbers.
If you communicate regularly with groups or individuals
during your work day, Slack just might be the right tool for you. Slack can
send messages to groups or individuals using private or public channels. Slack
also lets you share files and includes calling features as well.
Slack integrates with dozens of other apps. To learn more about how to use Slack, review our beginner tutorial:
Project Management Apps
Project management apps help your projects operate smoothly. They support the project management process and help you meet your goals.
Not only do they record deadlines and task assignments, but many project management apps also provide a forum for asking questions and sharing information.
To learn more about project management, review our introductory project management tutorial:
Let’s take a look at some project management apps.
Trello helps you track project or task assignments using a card-based system. The visual interface is a great way to get a quick visual overview of project progress. To get more detailed information, the user can open the card.
Trello notifies team members by email when their card is updated or changed. To learn more details about how to use Trello, check out our tutorial to get started:
Asana provides another way for project teams to assign and
track tasks. Asana centers around the ability to create Workspaces, which allow
you to track projects and tasks together.
Communicate directly with team members from within Asana, or choose to have the app send you email alerts. Here is a tutorial to help you start working with Asana:
Time Management Apps
Are you using your time wisely? If we’re honest, most of us have to admit that we could use our time better. In today’s hectic business environment, good time management is more important than ever.
Wasted time can mean lost sales or late projects. Poor time management could even cause you to lose a customer if you miss a deadline.
Fortunately, managing your time well is easier than ever with these three work productivity apps. They help you track your time or schedule meetings effectively. Let’s take a look.
Toggl helps you learn how you really spend your time with a
single click. Track projects, or just about anything you do on your computer or
mobile device. Color code your time sheet by project or customer so that you
can spot the information you need quickly.
If you’re a small business owner who bills for their time by the hour, Toggl helps you track your billable time. View your time-tracking information on the dashboard or export a time sheet to an Excel, CSV, or PDF file.
Harvest is a time-tracking business productivity app that
lets you set up projects and tasks and stay on top of where your time goes. Use
your time sheets to send invoices or make payments to your team.
Also, use Harvest to track expenses. Harvest connects with many popular business applications. To get started with Harvest check out our time tracking tutorial:
Getting a group together is a challenge. We’re all busy people with a lot going on. If you’ve ever tried to schedule a meeting for a time when everyone can be there, you know how hard it can be.
Doodle takes the challenge of scheduling a meeting and makes it simple. It sends a list of possible dates and times to your meeting participants (a Doodle poll) and allows them to choose the times that work for them. When you’re ready to invite participants, Doodle sends the meeting invite.
Doodle synchs to popular calendar programs such as Google calendar, Office 365 Calendar, iCal and more.
To Do List and Note Taking Apps
Everyone loves a to do list. To do lists are a great way to keep track of tasks, especially tasks that don’t seem to fit with any specific project.
While many of us love to do lists, most of us don’t make the best use of them. You know what I mean if you have to do tasks listed on little scraps of paper all over your desktop or on notes stuck to your computer monitor. Not only is that a poor way to keep track of what you need to do, it’s also messy.
There’s a better way. Use the latest to do list apps for productivity improvement. Let’s take a look at two examples.
Wunderlist takes to do lists to a whole new level. Create multiple lists and group related lists into a single folder. Share lists with teammates. You can even forward an email to your list to turn it into an action item.
Wunderlist lets you set up reminders and notifications so that you’re never late finishing a task. And if you still need a paper list, print out your Wunderlist. Get started with Wunderlist using our handy tutorial:
Evernote lets you take notes, create lists, and save images. Store information from the web using the Evernote Web Clipper. Once you’ve saved something to Evernote, access it from any device with an internet connection. Share your notes with team members or colleagues.
One of the strengths of Evernote is the powerful search tool to help you find anything you’ve saved. Never lose another important note. Learn how to use Evernote with our Tuts+ beginner tutorial:
The process you use to get work done is known as your workflow. A good workflow saves you time and helps your projects to run more smoothly. A poor workflow can result in hours of wasted time and a whole lot of frustration.
Developing a good workflow is easier than it used to be. With the right work productivity apps, you can design an effective workflow and stick to it. Some tools allow you to automate common processes.
Let’s take a look at two popular web workflow productivity tools.
IFTTT is a productivity app that uses “If, Then” statements
to automate common processes and streamline your workflow. You start by
defining the “If”, also called the trigger. Next, you define the “Then,” which
is the action you want to occur when the triggered condition is met. The trigger
action combinations are called “Recipes.”
Because IFTTT integrates with hundreds of popular apps and app-controlled devices, you can set up Recipes to automatically perform many routine tasks. Discover how to automate anything with IFTTT in our Tuts+ tutorial:
Zapier is another business productivity app that helps you
automate your workflow. You define triggers and determine what actions each
trigger automates. The combination of a trigger and action is called a
“Zap.” Zapier allows you to define even
complex Zaps with multiple steps.
Because Zapier integrates with hundreds of apps, you can automate many repetitive tasks. Zapier also lets you place filters before any action.
Social Media Apps
As a small business owner, social media marketing is an important part of your business strategy. By connecting with customers and fans through social media your business builds brand loyalty and improves your company’s good will.
But do you spend too much time on social media?
If you still go to each social media platform to post, the answer is probably “yes.” Consider using a social media app to improve your productivity.
Social media apps help you post to more than one social media platform using a single tool. Schedule posts, shorten URLs, track social media statistics, and more. Without a specialized social media productivity app, these tasks could take hours.
To learn more about the importance of social media in your marketing strategy, read through this tutorial:
Let’s examine two of the best productivity apps for social media.
Buffer lets you schedule posts for any time of the day or
night. Send posts to popular social media platforms. Manage multiple social
media profiles. Use the analytics part of the program to determine the best
time to post.
Buffer also integrates with many popular workflow apps (such as Zapier) so you can automate your social media marketing and save even more time.
Use Hootsuite to manage your social media tasks efficiently. Schedule posts to a wide variety of social media platforms using many profiles. Also, study and learn from included social media analytics. Hootsuite tracks various social media streams at the same time, which is great if you want to see your social media involvement at a glance.
Routine administrative tasks like password management and backing up files can take a big chunk out of your day if you’re not careful. If you lose a password or a file doesn’t have a backup, it could take several hours to regain access to your account or to recreate the lost file.
Productivity apps help you organize these routine tasks and save you hours of rework in the process. Here is our list of time saving administrative apps.
Password management is a tricky task. You need to create and
save your passwords so you can find them quickly when you need them. Yet, your
passwords also need to be secure. So, creating obvious passwords is out of the
Enter LastPass, which stores your passwords securely and helps you generate strong passwords with its password generator. Best of all, LastPass lets you sync your password between multiple platforms and devices. So, you always have access to your information.
Dig into this Tuts+ tutorial to get started with LastPass:
Dropbox can help you store your files securely
offsite. Because your Dropbox resides in the cloud, you can access your files
from any device with internet access.
Dropbox can also be used to share files between remote team members. Also, it now allows for commenting on shared documents. Here’s a Dropbox tutorial to help you use this tool more effectively for team work:
Work Faster with the Right Business Productivity Apps
With the right productivity apps you save hours of time. There are apps for productivity for just about every aspect of your business. Some of the best productivity apps work on multiple devices so that you can easily take your work from the desktop to your mobile device.
The key to saving time is to use productivity apps within your regular workflow on a regular basis. Take some time to evaluate what these tools can do for your small business and learn to use them effectively. Discover more great business productivity apps in these articles:
- 20 Best Online To Do List Apps for FreelancersSean Hodge31 Jan 2012
- 15 Best Productivity Apps for Your MacLaura Spencer21 Mar 2016
- Discover the Best, and Free, Alternatives to Well-Known Mac AppsRichard Guay18 Nov 2015
Also, you may want to learn more about the basics of productivity and begin building your own personalized productivity system.
What's your favorite productivity app? Which one was the greatest benefit to your daily workflow? What problem did it solve? How did it save you time and allow you to accomplish more in your business?