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7 Undiscovered Apps to Boost Productivity in Your Small Business

7 Undiscovered Apps to Boost Productivity in Your Small Business
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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.

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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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