Time is money, which is why online productivity tools are a must for small business owners. When I think about where I spend a lot of time that’s not billable, it comes down to four areas:
- Reading and writing emails
- Social media marketing
- Finding a day and time for a meeting
- Collaborating on projects with partners and vendors (which leads to more email – and lots of searching for previous emails!)
The following productivity tools are ones I swear by or am considering based on the glowing recommendations from others.
Email productivity: Google Mail, RocketBolt and Unroll.me
There are a zillion ways to slice and dice email to save you time. I use Google Mail as my email platform, which automatically categorises emails and moves them into different folders: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. I find this feature incredibly helpful.
But I want to be able to do more, so I’ve been looking at two additional tools:
RocketBolt just built an email tracking plugin for Gmail/Chrome. It tracks (and can even alert you) when emails are opened and links are clicked. This knowledge is valuable when you’re talking about sales and customer service – you can send more-informed follow-up emails and move people faster through the sales funnel.
Best feature: Compatible with other productivity apps, like Boomerang, Rapportive, Dropbox, and Streak.
Unroll.me compiles the newsletters you select into one email that you can open and scan when you feel like it. How awesome is that?
Best feature: You can unsubscribe from newsletters in one click – rather than one at a time.
Social media dashboard: Hootsuite
Even if your small business only has two social media accounts, a dashboard like Hootsuite lets you post updates, respond to comments and mentions, track conversations and more from one spot.
Best feature: Social media monitoring, hands down. You’ll know what people are saying about your brand so you can quickly respond.
Online calendar: Calendly
One of my clients swears by Calendly. She includes a link to her calendar in her email signature, so people can quickly set up a time to meet with her (clever idea!). I’ve used it to set up a couple of meetings with her; the interface is clean and it only takes about one minute to schedule a meeting.
Best feature: It checks your Google or Office 365 calendar for conflicts, so you’re never double-booked.
Project collaboration: Slack
I started using Slack this spring for two big projects I am working on, and I have to say, it’s awesome. I also love Basecamp – but Slack is free. You can create channels for each conversation, drag-and-drop files into it, and direct message people – and all of that is organized in one place so you can easily find it.
Best feature: Private channels can easily be created for more sensitive conversations.
What is your favourite productivity tool?
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