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7 Undiscovered Apps to Boost Productivity in Your Small Business

7 Undiscovered Apps to Boost Productivity in Your Small Business

As a small business owner, your plate is full of responsibilities; aside from ensuring your day-to-day duties as a leader within your company are carried out, your to-do list includes things like taking care of employee payroll, paying the rent on your office space, and keeping your team on track. Successful leaders often delegate these tasks in order to allow themselves to focus on critical responsibilities, however, small businesses do not always have the manpower to make this possible. As an alternative, consider incorporating these apps into your business processes to improve productivity, enhance business efficiency, and to avoid problems later.

Take a look at these apps below, which will facilitate everything from your company email newsletter to your social media posts.

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1. IFTTT for Automation

IFTTT is an automation app that will save you time an money by allowing you to automate just about anything, from your shopping list to news alerts. Use IFTTT for things like automatically scheduling through Google Calendar and managing recruiting activity. It’s all synced across the cloud, and the best part is that IFTTT provides a huge database of “automation recipes” with step-by-step instructions to help you get set up.

2. Evernote for Notes

How many times a day do you have to say, “I have to remember this”? Evernote allows you to make a note of anything to use later. Track everything from business trips to your favorite web pages, or manage research for your next project.. Some tablets even allow you to jot down notes on the tablet’s Evernote app using a stylist, giving you the feel of pen and paper.

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3. MailChimp for Email

MailChimp helps you to take control of your email by providing easy layouts to create newsletters for your company, tools to collect email addresses for marketing, and straightforward email templates. Collaborate with other employees with multi-user accounts, or independently use Mailchimp’s automation features for your online sales. Mailchimp also provides you with advanced analytic tools so you can track which campaigns are the most successful, allowing you to optimize your email effectiveness.

4. ZenPayroll for Payroll

Managing the payroll for you company can be very time-consuming, especially due to complex rules and regulations that require careful planning. ZenPayroll helps you avoid payroll confusion by handling most aspects of payroll for you, including features such as employee self-onboarding. Furthermore, ZenPayroll is an affordable solution used by many small businesses; ZenPayroll is a service you can trust.

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5. CoSchedule for Content Marketing

When it comes to content marketing, developing a comprehensive editorial calendar is arguably the most important step. CoSchedule not only provides you with an easy-to-use online editorial calendar, but also allows you to collaborate with team members and automate both blog posts and social media shares. With CoSchedule, you can plan your content for an entire month and let the app do the rest of the work, saving you hours a week.

6. HipChat for Real-Time Communication

HipChat makes it easy for you to talk to your teams by providing you with a platform to engage in both group and individual chats in order to streamlining your communications. Using a chat service like this will help keep your inbox clear of tedious email updates while clearing the way for more important conversations.

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7.Priority Matrix for Task Management and Collaboration

Priority Matrix is a task management app that allows you to quickly create action items within projects and collaborate with your team. The app utilizes the Eisenhower method of time management, which helps you categorize to-dos based on how critical and urgent you consider them, so your team stays focused on the right tasks. Finally, Priority Matrix can also be synchronized with your calendar and email platforms, making it easier for you and your team to stay on top of task due dates and keep track of important conversations.

By integrating just a few of these apps into your small business, you can save yourself hours a week, resulting in days of time gained at the end of each month. Just imagine the levels of productivity your business could hit by utilizing these extra hours to grow and improve.

Do you have any other tips or suggested apps that make your life easier? Leave a comment below.

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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