Technology is changing our businesses and the demands for the rapid management and accomplishment of tasks and daily goals is higher than ever. However this is driving higher workloads and strain to business owners which eventually leads to information overload, missing key communications and engaging in way too much multi-tasking. Eventually this may lead to a decrease in effectiveness and a constant increasing demand in completing mundane, routine tasks.
Fortunately with the huge variety of productivity apps that can be put to work we can also use technology to manage our routines, schedules and responsibilities in an orderly fashion.
Let’s look at 5 of my personal favourite web apps for my business – while not a criteria for selection, it’s worth mentioning these are all free in their basic forms.
Inbox by Google
Emails are the biggest drain on any business owner’s precious time. Amongst the hundreds of emails a business owner will receive each day, only a handful will actually require immediate attention. The disease which is the CC email is only going to get worse as everyone seems to want to copy the boss into every damn email!
Inbox by Google changes the way you handle emails, with the ability to filter and group any particular set of emails, which is really nice as you no longer have to delete promo emails or file away your travel details and purchases. But by far the best feature is being able to ‘snooze’ emails to be addressed at a later time or date with the option of ‘someday’.
On a recent trip interstate I was delighted when Inbox by Google texted me letting me know that the flight I had booked was delayed by one hour, all from reading the flight number and booking confirmation in my past emails.
Asana is a project management tool that doesn’t hold your hand, but allows you to use it however you want. Asana allows you to manage your teams, projects, tasks and deadlines with ease and streamlines communication.
Asana streamlines the communication and project management of over 100 individual projects we have running at any given time. Without it, we would be entirely reliant on an individual’s record keeping and countless meetings.
I can be anywhere and get a notification about a project on my phone, pull up the recent conversation and task history and within a minute be fully briefed on the project history, I can then provide an answer and direction on the spot, and attach any relevant emails or files to the reply.
Asana also integrates with many different time tracking applications that can report on how long each individual task has taken within a project.
See more about Asana here – https://asana.com
This wonderful scheduling app allows people to book appointments directly into a free space within your calendar. Not only is it super easy to use for both the account owner and the appointment setter, it has great reminder features to ensure both parties are aware of the appointment.
How many back and forth communications does it take to find a good time to set a meeting? This app removes that process entirely. You also have the ability to set parameters around your appointments with both lead and lag timing, lengths, maximum appointments per day and the collection of information by custom form fields.
I use this now for all appointments, both external and internal, but if I decide to manually put anything into my calendar or accept another invite I know Calendly will adjust automatically.
More at their website here – https://calendly.com/
Another great tool from Google; Google Keep in its simplest form has similar functionality to stickynotes, with the added benefit of being able to be accessed anywhere and on your phone.
You can take notes, dictate memos, create checklist, and save images all with the ability to set reminders along with possibly the best functionality for business owners – the ability to share the note to an email address.
Like many business owners I find myself working at some odd hours and Google Keep allows me to get my ideas out of my head and into the hands of relevant staff members.
More on Google Keep’s features here – https://www.google.com/keep/
IFTTT (If This Then That)
IFTTT basically connects your apps together by creating recipes that perform and action – basically if this (parameters) then that (action to be taken). The uses for this app are really only limited by your own imagination.
Here are some of the tasks I get IFTTT to perform automatically for me
- Save my photos to Google Drive
- Text back any missed calls
- Search my unread emails for key phrases and texts me a notification
- Keep a call log
- Remove silence from my phone when I get to work
- Keep a spreadsheet of contacts made
The possibilities are endless and the more ‘wired in’ you are the more uses you will find for this app with real world applications like being able to manage your home lighting and thermostat settings.
Check out the available premade recipes for inspiration here – https://ifttt.com/recipes/if
More than ever these days, it’s vital to be continually striving for efficiency and effectiveness when operating your business. Technology is making it easier than ever to automate the routine and mundane to allow us to focus on what is really important, working on the business not in the business.
What web apps do you use to help you be more effective in your business? I’d love to hear about them.