Staying productive is a never ending battle for creatives. Check out this Free (or really Cheap!) tools and apps you need to stay productive!

When starting a business many small business owners get lost in the day to day activities that need to happen in order to be successful. Working 12-16 hours day can be the norm for a number of months until an owner gets into a groove and knows the ins and outs of their business. As a business owner what steps can you take to make your work day more productive without working yourself into the ground?

5 apps you need to stay productive

Track your hours

Timely (Free-IOS)

Whether you charge by the hour or by the project, this app is a must have for all online business owners. The best feature about this app is the ability to create a set amount of hours per project, with a dollar value attached to it. If you are charging a client $50 per hour for social media work, once the timer starts it will break down the $50 by the second.

The ability to track your time on a project can be the difference not only in your productivity as a business owner, but can also help you increase your rates (and we all want to make more money by working less right?).

The ability to seamlessly keep track of your projects on any Apple devices you own is another great feature as well. I can add something onto my Iphone, then a few hours later load up my macbook and the information is there. When you have lots of tasks to maintain being able to work through multiple devices throughout the day while retaining your work makes the whole process smoother. If you aren’t using the Timely app get started now and see how much easier your workday gets.

Organize it!

Wunderlist (Free-Android, IOS, Chrome Extension, Windows Desktop)

In my first managerial job, I was very unorganized. Being a new manager is always tricky, but with a boss breathing down my neck every hour harping about how I couldn’t get things done was annoying so I decided to take action. I stumbled upon the Wunderlist app. Three years later it is still the app I recommend to anyone trying to become organized.

You can create different lists (it defaults with Inbox), sort everything by date created, alphabetically, or priority. Now I know what you are thinking -“What makes this app so special?”, well the answer is its easy to use interface and ability to use it on multiple platforms.

Not only can you use it on your IOS devices, but it can also be used through the Google PlayStore, Chrome extensions, and downloaded as a Windows desktop app. As long as the devices are connected to the internet it will automatically sync your to do lists onto them without any effort from you!

Be Focused

StayFocusd (Free-Chrome Extension)

If you combine StayFocusd with the Wunderlist app you will become a lean mean productivity machine! We can all get preoccupied by social media, news articles, and other wasteful items when we are cruising the internet. At 11:15 you can be looking up items for your next inventory order, then at 12:25 you realize the last hour has been spent on Facebook and Youtube videos.

The Stayfocusd app eliminates the time wasting and will become a business lifesaver. The first thing you will see when you open up the options sections is a left side bar to make any changes you need to the app. The first (and most important) option is “Max Time Allowed”. This will allow you a set amount of minutes to waste time on the internet. The default is 10 minutes but you can change it to whatever amount you like. I generally go with 15 minutes as a mental break.

The next few options include the days StayFocusd will be active, the time period during the day it will be active, and what time you want your allowed minutes to reset. Make sure you have an understanding of these options because changes can only be made 24 hours in advanced.

You also have the option to block or allow specific sites during the time period for the day. Once you start visiting a blocked site you will see the Stayfocusd cursor go from Green to Red, meaning you are using some of your Max time. Once you have used up all of your max time an error message will pop up saying you can’t visit the site at all.

The best feature that the extension has is the Nuclear option. The Nuclear option allows users to block all websites, the sites on their blocked list, or only allow access to the sites on the allowed list. The time period can be an hour or more, when the max allowed time has been met, or for a specific time block within a day. I haven’t seen anything on a productivity app mean more to a business than going Nuclear. There won’t be any excuses on why your work isn’t done once you download StayFocusd.

The fastest browser on the go

Puffin Browser ($3.99 for full verison-IOS, Android)

This isn’t necessarily a productivity app, but what business owner has the time to only work during office hours? When you need to use the internet on the go the Puffin Browser is the best internet browser to use. It is the fastest option whether you are using wifi, LTE, or even a regular 3G data option.

Not only is it faster than any other web browser option for your devices, it provides a lot of cool features that include: Do Not Track, Incognito browsing, automatic syncing of Chrome bookmarks and a mouse track pad. There is a free option as well as a pro option. I’ve owned both and there isn’t really much difference between the two so go with the free route and save a few bucks.

CRM in your Inbox

Streak (Free-User Option, plans start at $19 month- Web Browser)

Streak is an all in one CRM that every business would find valuable. They have monthly plans starting at $19 per month for the CRM features, but for now we are going to talk about the free options that are provided.

The best feature out of all the free options is enhanced email. As a business owner you can track up to 200 emails per month (great for finding out when someone has viewed an email and hasn’t responded yet), schedule emails to be sent at a later date, and create snippets of frequently used text that can be inserted into emails.

The Streak CRM will cut down the time you spend going through your inbox, and give you more time to get business matters done.

Once you have these apps downloaded onto your devices you will be wondering how you didn’t know about them sooner, and maybe get in an extra hour of your favourite hobby!


 

What apps are making a difference in your business? I’d love to know! Share it in the comments.

 

 

Darrelle Thompson

Darrelle Thompson

Darrelle Thompson is a happily married father of 6 living in Central New York (he is in West Texas right now but will be back in NY by the time the article is published). He loves sports, A&E shows, and spending time with his family. You can reach him at (432) 363-4356, or by email at darrelle@darrellethompsonwriting.com

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