Tag Archive | "Productivity Tools"

6 Hacks That Are a Must for Solopreneurs

You are living the American dream, or so it seems.  However, even with all the advantages that come with being a solopreneur the fact still remains that you are a one person company most likely doing the work of five or more.

There is no one to remind you of appointments, personally answer your calls, manage your sales leads or customer service, help with taxes, or keep your accounts up to date.  Of course, there are numerous geeky technological tools that is there to ease the sting, but which ones are the best?

Below you will find a list of handpicked tools that seem to ease the pain of being a one man/woman do it all.

  1. 1Password  – not only can  you up your security measures with two-factor authentication making your passwords even that much more secure, but this password generator keeps everything stored for you in a user-friendly easy to use spot that seamlessly syncs between your browser and your other mobile devices.  1Password also makes it easy to pick and choose which passwords you might want to share with clients or even family members.

  2. Dropbox –  What would happen if your hard-drives were to be damaged in an accident or natural disaster?  Would you be able to recover from lost data and time?  You really need an off-site backup system in order to safeguard yourself against that kind of vulnerability.  An automatic backup is by far the easiest.   I’ve personally used Dropbox for years, and though I’ve never had a disastrous hard drive failure of any kind, I’ve found it to be super useful.  I’m able to grab files whenever needed, from whatever device I happen to be using at the time.   They also make file sharing a headache of the past.  A quick copy and and past of the file or folder url and you have now shared that huge data hungry document with your client with ease.

  3. Rescue Time – We have all had those days where at the end it feels as if you haven’t accomplished anything at all on the long list of “to-do’s”  but where or what exactly sucked up all our time?   Rescue Time can help you by tracking the activity on your computer and letting you know where your time is spent. Heck, it could be that you just lack self-discipline and need to get your eyes off of Facebook for those two hours that you could have been being productive.  If this is the case you can set it to block those distracting sites for certain periods of time.  Look at it as a self-preservation technique or your very own Net Nanny.

  4. Shake – Agreements, contracts, proposals, acckkk!   Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where to start in creating a simple but legally binding agreement.  This mobile app will help with that.  It’s a quick and easy way to create contracts for freelance jobs, but you can also use it to create NDA’s, leases, loans, and sales.  It’s like having a contract attorney (well a cheap one) at your fingertips.

  5. Shoeboxed – Paper, receipts, business cards, forms, books = unnecessary clutter on my desk.  There were days in the past where I simply wanted to take it all and trash it in one swift sweep of my arm over the top of my desk.  Well that day, I’m happy to say, has come and gone thanks to Shoeboxed.  This gem of a tool let’s you easily scan, take pictures using your mobile device, or even send them via snail mail anything and everything that you would like to save but not necessarily keep on your desk or in a drawer.

  6. 17hats – This wondrous time saver combines many of the apps you are likely using into a single flawless interface.  It’s creators have built 17hats with the solopreneur in mind.  They have given us a suite of functions to from from sales leads to research and information gathering via an online questionnaire on to a proposal to hand off to your potential client.  They don’t stop there though the ball continues rolling downhill to contract, invoicing and finally payment.  It’s like a fortune 500 company CRM system but designed for the single DIY’er.  It also doesn’t carry the big fortune 500 company price tag.   For only $13 a month (two year plan) you are given unlimited everything!

 

Bonus Productivity Hacks

  1. Have clearly defined hours of business – Biggest hurdle for most solopreneurs or work at home freelancers in general, is defining their work hours.  True one of the pluses of working from home or for yourself is the ability to make your own hours.  However, thats where many of us tend to fall down.  Make a schedule for work and stick to it.  View your business work schedule just as you would if you were punching a clock.  If you have to take time off for a personal commitment then you need to also set aside time to make the time missed up.  In the same respect you also need to learn to “shut off.”  Just because we live in a 24 hour society doesn’t mean that you need to be available 24/7 to answer that client’s call.

  2. Be picky about who you say yes to – Most of us have a deep need to be liked and in business being liked normally equates to added income.  As a solopreneur you have to learn that it’s simply impossible to be able to say yes to every client that crosses your path.

  3. Outsource when possible – Delegate tasks to freelancers when it all possible.  The sooner you realize that rome wasn’t built in a day or by one single person, the quicker you will ultimately get to your goals.

  4. Schedule personal time including vacations – Burnout happens and often!  Take a break, go on a family vacation, recharge those batteries.  In the end your creativity and productivity will be thanking you.

  5. Use the above productivity tools!

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10 Tools That Will Help You Become Ultra Productive

Time is a precious commodity, especially as an entrepreneur we are left with more tasks than day. No one wants to spend the workday madly scrambling to get things done. Attempting to run your business inefficiency would only result in a nightmare. Unfortunately, it is one that people endure every day causing unnecessary stress.  This is why learning about some of the tools that are available for making the workday go not only smoothly, but at the highest level of productivity is one of the best things that you can do. Mastering some of these tools will help you to get things done faster and more efficiently which in turn will take away that tight, painful stress feeling in your shoulders.

1. Post-Its

Post-Its are one of those unassuming items that everyone has lying around, but no one ever really uses. Use them. Use them constantly. Once you start using Post-Its regularly, you will wonder how you were ever able to survive in a world without them. They are great for writing short memos and sticking to places where you are guaranteed to see them.

2. Google Docs

One of the most useful creations of the digital age is Google Docs. The format is very similar to traditional Microsoft Word (before Vista screwed everything up), so even the most tech-illiterate person in your office can easily pick up the basics. What is great about Google Docs is that it is accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. No more flash drives, emailing documents to yourself, or, heaven forbid, the dark age of floppy disks. In addition to how easy it is to access your files, Google Docs uses a sharing and comment feature that allows multiple people to work on the same document at once or to make comments in the margins. Group projects are a breeze.

3. AwayFind

Email is one of those technological things that we love to hate. There are so many good things about email, but once that inbox hits the thousands, you start to realize how much you hate it. Sifting through all those emails can take all day and can destroy your productivity. You could limit yourself to checking your email a couple of times a day, but what if there’s an emergency or important message? Allow me to introduce AwayFind. This service alerts you via phone, text, or push notification when you receive a message from a preselected person or something with specific keywords in it. No more missing vital emails. No more feeling swamped by emails that are unimportant. For only five dollars a month, AwayFind is worth it.

4. Gmail’s filters, labels, and archives

Google has done a bunch of marvelous things to boost the efficiency of the online community, and Gmail is one of the best tools out there. Labels in Gmail can allow you to mark specific topics or phrases that appear in emails and then archive them into groups. This makes it easy to find and reference older emails, and is especially useful for workplaces that communicate a lot through email. Filters allow you to label emails that meet certain criteria and sort them automatically into a file. This means that they could bypass your inbox all together and simply get stored nicely and neatly where they need to be.

5. SaneBox

SaneBox is a great way to sort your emails so that you do not have hundreds of unread messages sitting judgmentally in your inbox for days on end. For only seven dollars a month (that’s less than a Netflix subscription), SaneBox will use an algorithm to filter less important messages into a “SaneLater” folder. This allows you to see the important stuff right away and get to the things that can wait later when you have time to deal with it.

6. Lined notebooks

You may have thought your lined notebook days were behind you when you graduated high school, but they’re not. The simple lined notebook is one of the most important office tools that you can have on hand. Electricity is not 100% reliable, and neither are the companies providing the office WiFi. What will you do when you have a deadline and the network goes down so you can’t access your Google Doc? Write your ideas in a notebook of course! In addition, physically writing something down can be more rewarding and give you more of a sense of accomplishment than typing it.

7. Draft

Draft is an amazing app for collaborative editing and can make getting feedback about a project much easier. With Draft, additions to a document are highlighted in green while subtractions are highlighted in pink. You can view and compare multiple versions of the draft side by side to examine changes, and comments are displayed right next to the relevant text. The writer can choose to accept or reject changes that are made to the document, and you can easily go back to an earlier version if needed.

8. WordPress

WordPress is ideal for connecting with readers online, but it also has some uses as a word processor. Writing a draft within WordPress itself is useful because it helps to code html. It also makes it possible to see the draft on a web page so that you know how it will look once it goes online. The appearance of a document can change quite a bit from Word to the web, so this is great for making sure the format works.

9. Kitchen Timer

Most of us have timers on our smartphones, but that timer is attached to hundreds of distractions. It is so easy to turn your timer off and take a quick Facebook break that consumes your productivity and twenty minutes of your time. A regular kitchen timer eliminates these distractions while keeping you on a schedule. Set the kitchen timer for short increments of time and work intensely on a specific task for that time. This will help keep you focused, and makes it easier to take a five minute break when you really need one.

10. Rainmaker Platform

The Rainmaker Platform is the solution for anyone who is serious about content driven marketing or online entrepreneurs. The platform has the tools to build a website without hunting for hosting, fighting to find solid SEO, handling the hassle of maintenance or upgrades. Basically, the platform makes managing your website easy.

What tools have your found to boost your productivity? We would love to hear all about them in the comments below. 

 

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Top 5 Ways To Work Smarter Not Harder

It doesn’t matter if you have taken that big leap into solopreneurship or you still have your nose to the grindstone working for someone else, we all struggle with productivity. For many, like myself, it is a daily occurrence. Let’s face it, some days are just better than others when it comes to checking off everything on your to-do list.

Don’t fret though, there is some good news heading your way.  

The struggle will be a thing of the past if you take a moment (yes, add it to your to-do list if you must) to read and then implement these top 5 ways to improve your productivity.  

1. Time Tracking

Tracking your time will ultimately boost your productivity by allowing you to see just how much time you have spent on certain tasks. Whatever the task might be: texting, emailing, conference calls, etc – it’s worth tracking. The great thing about time tracking is not only will you be able to see how much time it took you to complete a certain task, but it will also alert you to how much time you are wasting on a specific task. Facebook newsfeed anyone?

Researchers found that people who wore a fitness tracker of some kind, such as a FitBit, increased their physical activity by 26.9%. Undoubtedly, the same will ring true when you begin to track your time.

There are hundreds if not thousands of companies out there that offer amazing time tracking tools to help get you on your way to spending less time on those tasks that are eating up your precious day.

2. Plan Your Day Ahead of Time

That’s right, those to-do lists that some of us love to hate will actually create a more productive person. Planning your day allows you to schedule tasks that will move you closer towards your ultimate goals.  Try doing this at the end of your work day or at the very beginning of a new one.

Just think about how excited you become when you are able to cross of task by task on your list. Since plans tend to free up mental space, you will find your mood is elevated and your anxiety is down.

3. Walk Away

If you are anything like me, you jump to reach for your mobile device every time you hear it chime. Or worse, you find yourself sitting at your desk answering emails or researching your next article while attempting to eat your lunch.

The problem with this constant non-stop working regime is that you aren’t ever truly unplugged.  Just as our bodies need a shift from deep to more light dream filled cycles, they also require a brain cycle shift from full focus to relaxation every 90-120 minutes.

4. Declutter Your Workspace (and head)

Studies show that too much clutter in a work environment causes brain activity to decrease. Your brain becomes distracted by all the little nick knacks and doo-dads, not to mention the pile of papers in the corner of your desk, preventing you from being able to sail through your task list.

The same goes for all that mental clutter building up.  Create your to-do list and stick to it.

5.  Go Full Throttle on Your Internet Speed

This might sound like a no-brainer, but again someone has indeed studied it and found that those with high average internet speeds were more productive than those with lower bandwidth.

For a few bucks more (in most areas), you could drastically increase your productivity just by paying a bit more for a higher tier internet package. No, I’m not suggesting you to break the bank to accomplish this.  However, every 5 minutes or more that is lost while waiting for a page to load or an internet conference call that has dropped, you could be working on something else that would move you closer to your ultimate goals.

What ways have you find to work smarter not harder?  We would love to hear all about them in the comments below.

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Top 4 Productivity Tools For Internet Entrepreneurs

For most, working from home and/or for themselves is a dream come true.  They are able to choose your clients, manage responsibilities and work when and where they want. However, in the words of Sir Isaac Newton, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” So, while working from the comforts of a home office, while sipping coffee in your pajamas might seem like a gloriously granted wish, it does have it’s downsides.

There are those days, or weeks where the frustrations of client management, bookkeeping, communication, and of course the struggle to get off your butt and get stuff done is real. Being self-employed is one of those things that is easier said than done.

It should be said though, that I personally wouldn’t give up my ability to roll out of bed and walk across the hall to my pc for anything.  I’ve just learned to use the available technology available to me.  Below, are my top four resources to keep both me and my business on track.

#1 Aweber

If you’re looking to boost your inbound marketing efforts, Aweber is for you. This marketing automation software makes it extremely easy to create online email campaigns (aka autoresponders) that convert.

#2 Asana

Asana is a task management tool that I’ve used for years now.  It helps me to collaborate, stay on top of deadlines, and communicate with other team members all in one place.  

#3 Freshbooks

Bookkeeping can be a nightmare if you don’t stay on top of it. Freshbooks allows you to track time spent on projects, send out invoices, and manage your monthly reports. Think of the services as a hassle-free lite Quickbooks. Plus, you can save money on those pesky Pay-Pal fees.  How? Essentially they’ve worked out a deal, when your client pays the invoice via PayPal with their account balance or echeck, that you’ll only have to pay a $0.50 flat fee, instead of the usual 3ish percent.

#4 Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud based storage service. Think of it as Google Docs on steroids.  Save your files on your pc, then access them anywhere you go.  Everything that you save to your Dropbox will automatically be synced to all your devices. They even offer a free plan that includes 2 GB of space.

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