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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 21 Systems to Boost Business Productivity for Good

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 21 Systems to Boost Business Productivity for Good


    Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    What productivity system can you not live without as an entrepreneur?

    1. Manage Projects With Asana

      Although Asana is a project management tool it doubles as a productivity system by making our team and clients more efficient every day. By tracking, assigning and follow up on individual tasks, Asana allows us to eliminate the noise and focus on what action has to be taken today.

      Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

      2. Share Files Through Dropbox

      Annie Wang

        This must-have app is installed on all our laptops, tablets, and phones. Since we’re often traveling or working remotely, Dropbox is absolutely essential in helping the whole team stay literally in sync. In addition, it makes updating and distributing decks that need to stay extremely up-to-date, like our Media Kit, very simple and efficient.

        Annie Wang, Her Campus Media

        3. Check It Off on Ta-da List

          Ta-da List is the simplest way that I’ve found to create and share a checklist of action items for our team. Team members claim the items that they are working on by checking them off. We have staff ranging from Palo Alto to Senegal (an eight-hour time difference), and Ta-da List keeps us on the same page.

          Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

          4. Producteev Keeps Up Productivity

            Producteev is a cross-platform productivity application. It works online, on Desktop and across mobile applications to help streamline your personal or corporate activities. Producteev is ideal for small teams and we use it extensively in my businesses.

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            Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.

            5. Keep Track of Tasks on Any.DO

              I organize my life around “to-dos” and without a doubt the best app to organize these tasks is Any.DO. It’s simple and beautiful, which makes it a pleasure to use on a daily basis.

              Ben Lang, EpicLaunch

              6. Track the Noteworthy on Evernote

                Without a doubt, Evernote. I keep all meeting notes, client info and personal ideas in one place, and am able to access anything and everything from any of my devices on the go. I’ve used it religiously for the past couple years, and can’t help but wonder, “What the heck did I do before Evernote?”

                Matt Cheuvront, Proof Branding

                7. Get It Back With RescueTime

                Jennifer Vargas

                  RescueTime is a great app that runs in the background on your computer. It graphs your activity and breaks it down onto a scale from “very distracting” to “very productive.” It helps me to find the leaks in my productivity so that I can address them and get the most out of my time.

                  Jennifer Vargas, Accompl.sh

                  8. Stop Guessing With Wunderlist

                    Wunderlist has become a wonder for me. Not only is it very easy to input all of your projects, your clients and their associated priorities, but the accessibility of it constantly syncing to all of your portable devices, such as your smartphone, tablet and computer. It is unrivaled and has made my life that much easier, whether in the office or on-the-go.

                    Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

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                    9. Root Back to BasecampHQ

                    Roger Bryan

                      I’ve used a ton of others and even tried to have my own built, but I always come back to BasecampHQ for project management.

                      Roger Bryan, RCBryan & Associates

                      10. Keep an Eye Out With Trello

                      Patrick Curtis

                        Trello allows me to easily keep track of our major tasks and the stage of development on each. It’s a simple and intuitive interface is perfect for web development teams. Best of all, it’s free.

                        Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com

                        11. Money Matters on Freshbooks

                        Susan Strayer

                          Client perception is important when you’re small. They need to see you have your act together, especially on the basics. If you can’t get that right, how can you handle their business? Invoicing and expensing with Freshbooks makes it easy for me to look good and work efficiently.

                          Susan Strayer, Exaqueo

                          12. Day-to-Day on Google Calendar

                          Bhavin Parikh

                            Without Google Calendar I’d never get anything done. Since the calendar is web-based, I always have access to it whether it’s on my laptop, iPad, or smartphone. I also use the calendar to block off times when I want to focus on a task for several hours straight.

                            Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh, Inc.

                            13. Capture Leads on Instant Customer

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                            Michael Margolis

                              This CRM system allows me to capture leads when public speaking or networking. From the audience, people can SMS to opt-in to my email list and special offer. Or they can give me a business card, and minutes after I scan it in, it sends them a series of pre-programmed emails with follow-up resources, and a promo offer.

                              Michael Margolis, Get Storied

                              14. Top the To-Do on Google Tasks

                              Eric Bahn

                                I’m a very process-oriented person and I need to have a list of things to accomplish every day. Google Tasks, which is part of your Gmail, is a free task-list service. I update my tasks constantly and it keeps me focused each day.

                                Eric Bahn, Beat The GMAT

                                15. Mix Business With Pleasure on Yammer

                                Natalie MacNeil

                                  Yammer keeps my whole team organized, on track, and in-the-know on all important communication for a particular project. It’s where we share files, discuss goals, and most importantly, where my virtual team has an opportunity to build real relationships with their peers.

                                  Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World

                                  16. Stay Up-to-Date Through Glasscubes

                                  Heather Huhman

                                    My team and I use Glasscubes on a daily basis for managing documents, keeping track of tasks and organizing information. It’s great because it’s really cut down on the amount of emails we were sending back and forth — and helps keep track of content and its status.

                                    Heather Huhman, Come Recommended

                                    17. Keep It Clear

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                                    Derek Shanahan

                                      I’m finding a nice balance with Clear, a new iPhone app that’s gotten tons of attention because of the way the designers rethought the touch screen user interface. Underneath, it’s a very basic to-do system, but I’ve never been big on bells and whistles when it comes to productivity. The truly incredible UI is the kicker, and seems to fit well with how I prioritize in my head, so it’s stuck!

                                      Derek Shanahan, Foodtree

                                      18. Just Do It With Do.com

                                      Lucas Sommer

                                        I use Do.com to manage all of my various business projects. It helps me track who is doing what and what is left to be done on any given project. Track time, billable hours, share files, etc. — This site can do it all for free. When I discovered it, I knew I would never go back to emails or Excel for managing projects.

                                        Lucas Sommer, Audimated

                                        19. Hire a Remote Assistant

                                        Garrett Neiman

                                          As a startup social entrepreneur, there is absolutely no way that I could afford a traditional executive assistant. Through YourRemoteAssistant.com, I have a full-time assistant for just $1,099 per month. This serve has enabled me to delegate in an entirely different way at a cost that my organization can afford.

                                          Garrett Neiman, CollegeSpring

                                          20. Pomodoro Technique for Top Productivity

                                          Brenton Gieser

                                            Apps and project management tools can help you manage and prioritize tasks effectively, but when it comes to getting stuff done, use the Pomodoro Technique. Dedicate laser focus to one and only one task for 25 minutes — make sure to use a timer! Once the timer goes off, take a 5-minute break. I find that when I use this technique, I tend to not get distracted by small urgent things.

                                            Brenton Gieser, JoynIn

                                            21. Teux Deux

                                              Teux Deux is perfect for simple to-do lists and I love the accompanying iPhone app!

                                              Erin Blaskie, BSETC

                                              (Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

                                              More by this author

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                                              Trending in Productivity

                                              1 How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life 2 How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated 3 How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life 4 How to Develop Mental Toughness to Help You Stay Strong 5 How to Calm Down When You’re Stressed and Anxious

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                                              Published on April 25, 2019

                                              How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

                                              How Creativity Can Help You Get Ahead in Life

                                              Have you ever felt limited in your abilities to do something you really wanted to pursue? Maybe it was an ambition you had, or an idea to start something. Perhaps it was an opportunity that came your way, but you weren’t able to take it because something held you back.

                                              Often, we’re unable to progress towards our goals because such obstacles stand in the way. We let our limitations stop or overshadow our abilities to see through to a goal.

                                              Yet, there’s one thing that we rarely think of to use when trying to overcome limitations.

                                              Creativity.

                                              What is Creativity?

                                              When I say creativity, I’m not talking about an innate talent. Creativity is a much needed, but often neglected, skill that everyone has! It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input.

                                              Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems.

                                              Everything, including brilliant inventions, cannot come from nothing; it all derives from some sort of inspiration. Creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.

                                              From this perspective, you can find creativity at play in many areas.

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                                              For example, Mark Zuckerburg rapidly became successful by taking the previously existing concept of social media, and combining it with an incredibly simple interface that appealed to a much wider audience. Uber and Lyft combined the idea of a traditional taxi service with an incredibly efficient smartphone app.

                                              Both of these examples connect different ideas, find common ground amongst the differences, and create a completely new idea out of them.

                                              That’s creativity in a nutshell, and anyone can improve theirs.

                                              Limitations are Actually Opportunities

                                              The advantage of using creativity, is to help you see limitations as opportunities. Take any limitation that you may find yourself facing, is there a way to look at things differently?

                                              Let me illustrate with an example.

                                              On the day of my son’s 5th birthday, my wife and I arranged a party for him at a children’s adventure park. His friends and family were all invited, and the plan was to have a long, fun day out to celebrate.

                                              However, the day didn’t go exactly as planned…

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                                              At Lifehack, we pride ourselves on a healthy work-life balance, so I wasn’t concerned about taking the day off to celebrate. But, on the big day, a call came through to my phone.

                                              It was a manager from Lifehack. He excitedly told me that a group of investors were quite interested in our business proposition, and were wanting to meet later that day.

                                              This was great news! A potential investment could be coming our way. But, I was already miles away from home and the office. Plus, it was my son’s birthday…

                                              I asked if I could call him back once we got settled into the park.

                                              To be honest, I was pretty certain I was not going to be able to make it. Asking to reschedule would be a risky request, but there was no way that I was going to miss my son’s party.

                                              My son could sense something was off, and he asked me what was wrong. So I let him know that I just received a call about a meeting today, but also told him not to worry as today was about celebrating his birthday.

                                              But like all kids, he continued questioning me…

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                                              “But daddy, is it important?”

                                              “No, of course not,” I bluffed.

                                              Then, with childlike intuition and creativity, he asked: “Can’t you just meet with them at the park?”

                                              And, then it struck me! This was the idea that I was missing.

                                              Even though my son didn’t quite understand that it would not be possible for the investors to meet me at the park, it made sense for me to simply do a video call!

                                              I could miss 25 minutes of the party to do a quick call while the rest of the party walked through the aquarium. And, in the end, that was exactly what happened.

                                              I called back my teammate and asked him to briefly explain to the investors why I couldn’t be there in person to meet, but would be happy to join via video. I took the call, and was able to spend the rest of the day at the park with my son.

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                                              Not only did my son enjoy his birthday, his simple idea led to a successful investment meeting that allowed us to get funding for a new project.

                                              This is where I was able to turn a limitation into an opportunity that enabled me to reach my success.

                                              Creativity is One Key to Success

                                              When you use your creative ability to turn your limitations and setbacks into opportunities, you’ll find doors opening for you in areas you may have never imagined.

                                              Remember, your attitude is also important when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. That’s because a positive attitude transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

                                              Check out this article to learn more about how you can tune your attitude towards positivity.

                                              So, the next time you’re feeling limited by your abilities, setbacks or challenges, don’t give up. Really look at the situation, and see how you can leverage on your creativity to find an alternative solution.

                                              Featured photo credit: Photo by William Iven on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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