By Alexa Lemzy
Small business owners often have too much on their plates. Employee management, accounting, social media, marketing, networking and countless other tasks all have to be coordinated and executed by little old you.
Who wouldn’t like to gain back some time by accomplishing things faster? There are lots of different tools and softwares that can help. Here are my top seven time-saving tools.
1. Password Manager
Fifteen years ago, you only had to remember your email password. Don’t you miss those days? Today, you have to remember your computer password, email passwords, Skype, Dropbox, Apple or Android account password, banking app password, social media sites passwords, and about a million others. How many times have you tried to log into one of your accounts but you forgot your password?
Owning a small business is hard enough without trying to memorize the telephone book of passwords you’ve registered. You can use password managers to make sure you’re never locked out of an account and save yourself time on password recovery processes.
2. Social Media Manager
If you’ve done your homework and discovered which times of day are best for your business to make social media posts, you may have also discovered that you’re not always available to publish posts at those times. That’s why you should automate your posts with a social media manager. That way you can schedule posts and be confident you’ll be getting the word out there on social media even when you’re in a meeting, receiving a new shipment, training a new employee or running to the bank.
3. On-Hold Placeholder
Being on hold is the worst time-sucker that exists. You can’t make other calls or accomplish much of anything while on hold. For example, LucyPhone allows you to keep your place in line by entering your company’s phone number. You’ll automatically be put in the queue and receive an alert when the next agent is available. You don’t have to wait around or listen to elevator music. Brilliant time and sanity saver.
4. SMS Services
Sending out emails that no one ever reads or leaving voice mails that no one ever listens to sounds like a waste of time, doesn’t it? If you own a business that’s based on booking appointments, no-shows can also be huge time wasters. A bulk business SMS service can save a huge amount of time that would have been spent on calls or emails. With texting services, you can send appointment reminders that your clients will actually receive.
5. Account Automation
As a small business owner, you’re probably the one doing your own accounting and if it’s not your area of expertise, you could be spending a lot of time on this one. But don’t worry, there are programs that can help you get organized and save you time. Such accounting software automates your invoices, saving you time you would have spent on data entry.
Invoice Sherpa automates your accounts receivable and has the added benefit of sending out unpaid invoice reminders and late fee notices, saving you from having to chase down clients one by one. Expensify is an automated expense reports app that allows you to take pictures of receipts instead of entering the data from a paper receipt.
6. Pomodoro Technique
Are you the type of person who can sit down and knock out all your tasks without breaking a sweat or the type of person who sits and stares out the window and checks their Facebook a hundred times before doing your expense reports? If you don’t have your productivity skills honed by now, consider trying the Pomodoro Technique.
Created by Italian university student Fracesco Cirillo who worked out a way to increase productivity and decrease the time you spend working. The basic concept includes using a timer and working intensively until the timer rings. Then take a short break. Repeat four times and then take a longer break. Download one of many Pomodoro technique-inspired apps to keep your productivity levels high.
7. Airplane Mode
The simplest of all the tools and doesn’t even require an app. Our mobile phones are sending us constant streams of updates and information. Putting the phone on silence doesn’t stop it from vibrating when someone calls or the screen from lighting up when a new message or notification arrives.
In order to effectively remove ALL distraction, put it on Airplane Mode during times when you really need to concentrate. Whether it’s during a meeting or when you’re pressed for time and need to crank out a report or finish a task, this can save you heaps of time by allowing you to switch off and work.
Use these tools to save yourself some well-deserved time while keeping your small business running smoothly.