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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)

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                                              1 What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For? 2 Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes 3 10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness 4 11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity 5 How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life

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                                              Last Updated on October 16, 2019

                                              Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                                              Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

                                              Do you like making mistakes?

                                              I certainly don’t.

                                              Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

                                              Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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                                              Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

                                              Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

                                              • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
                                              • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
                                              • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
                                              • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

                                              We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

                                              If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

                                              Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

                                              Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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                                              When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

                                              Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

                                              We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

                                              It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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                                              Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

                                              Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

                                              Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

                                              1. Point us to something we did not know.
                                              2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
                                              3. Deepen our knowledge.
                                              4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
                                              5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
                                              6. Inform us more about our values.
                                              7. Teach us more about others.
                                              8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
                                              9. Show us when someone else has changed.
                                              10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
                                              11. Remind us of our humanity.
                                              12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
                                              13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
                                              14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
                                              15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
                                              16. Invite us to better choices.
                                              17. Can teach us how to experiment.
                                              18. Can reveal a new insight.
                                              19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
                                              20. Can serve as a warning.
                                              21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
                                              22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
                                              23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
                                              24. Remind us how we are like others.
                                              25. Make us more humble.
                                              26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
                                              27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
                                              28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
                                              29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
                                              30. Expose our true feelings.
                                              31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
                                              32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
                                              33. Point us in a more creative direction.
                                              34. Show us when we are not listening.
                                              35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
                                              36. Can create distance with someone else.
                                              37. Slow us down when we need to.
                                              38. Can hasten change.
                                              39. Reveal our blind spots.
                                              40. Are the invisible made visible.

                                              Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

                                              The secret to handling mistakes is to:

                                              • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
                                              • Have an experimental mindset.
                                              • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

                                              When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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                                              When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

                                              It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

                                              When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

                                              Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

                                              Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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                                              Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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