I love using software to boost my productivity and effectiveness. Innovative developers have created software solutions for almost any problem you can think of. Any time I have to do a repetitive task, I search for software to make it easier.
I recently had to convert almost 100 Word files to PDF. It would have taken me at least an hour of mind-numbing work to convert them one at a time. Instead, I searched Google for “convert Word document to PDF,” and the first result was a website that converts multiple uploaded Word files to PDF. Less than 5 minutes later I had 100 PDFs.
Besides automating one-time jobs, software can make your daily routine much more efficient.
Here are 5 essential software tools for your business life.
1. Task list
You have a lot on your plate, and you can let important tasks fall through the cracks if you don’t have a good system for keeping track of to-dos. Sticky notes and scraps of paper may work fine for luddites, but paper gets lost, and you waste time rewriting prioritized lists. I recommend task management software that syncs between a website and mobile app and has good keyboard shortcuts.
My favorite task manager is Remember the Milk. The interface is clean and easy to use with an abundance of shortcuts for quick updates. It syncs reliably between the apps on various platforms. I use the web app for heavy lifting while I’m working at my computer and the iPhone app while on the go.
I have tried several l other programs, such as Omnifocus and Nozbe, but I keep coming back to RTM. I find its simplicity, effectiveness, and efficiency hard to beat.
You need to keep track of a lot of information, and that information needs to be available anytime, anywhere. You don’t have time to search through papers for that account number or utility bill or copy of your drivers license.
My favorite tool for keeping track of notes is Evernote. Its easy-to-use apps for any platform sync seamlessly so you have access to all of your information on your phone, tablet, or computer. Evernote is my digital brain, and I don’t know how I would function without it. Any piece of information I need is a quick search away.
If you’re reading this you probably use email, but are you using email in the most effective way?
I use Google Apps for all of my business email accounts. Google Apps combines email (Gmail), document storage (Drive), office applications (Docs, Sheets, etc), Calendar, and many other tools. It allows you to use your own domain name instead of gmail.com, giving your business a more professional presence. It’s inexpensive and easy to set up.
Whether or not you use Google Apps, I recommend using email right in your web browser. I gave up Outlook a long time ago, and I haven’t missed it one bit. Keyboard shortcuts and powerful search capabilities make using email in the browser much more effective (in my opinion) than managing a separate piece of software that stores data on your computer.
4. Online document storage
I store online every document I need access to. I only keep paper if original documents are important.
I use Google Drive for archiving files that need to be structured into folders. For example, I have folders in my personal Google Drive for each year of tax documents.
I use Dropbox or Google Docs/Sheets for files I am actively working on. I use Google as much as possible because I can quickly access and edit on any device, I can easily share and collaborate, and I never have to worry about version control. For example, I use Google Sheets for cash flow projections and expense reports.
I dump into Evernote everything that doesn’t need to be in a structured file system. I use the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner to scan everything from utility bills to kids’ report cards.
5. Business finance
It’s important to keep your business and personal finances separate, and business financial software makes it easy to track the business side. Most businesses I work with use Xero, but I’ve also used Freshbooks, Quickbooks Online, and Netsuite.
Question: What software do you find essential for your business life?