Productivity is a big issue for small businesses. Because we are all so busy these days, working when, where and however we want (and probably too much!) it is important to really figure out how to use one’s time wisely.
And yet, the thing is, there is always so much new technology available, that it is easy to lose the forest for the trees. Combine that with the multitude of distractions today (the Internet, social media, the mobile phone, other screens), and being efficient is not always easy.
So let me suggest a few productivity tools that I think should make a real difference to any small business.
1. The phone: A good phone system, like the SynJ from AT&T for example, can make any businessperson far more productive. For starters, it allows you to run your business professionally and properly. Beyond that, a good phone system like this can save you a ton of time: Stop the endless email loops! Start prospecting by actually speaking with real people. Get the answers you need right now. Don’t waste your time losing leads or searching for lost correspondence. Get work done now.
All this happens when you have a good phone system at your office, and you use it instead of defaulting to the computer.
2. Productivity software and online tools: While it might sound as if I am a Luddite, I am anything but. The point is that computer technology is great – when used appropriately. Here then are some online tools that can help too:
To do lists:There are many to choose from, for example:
Online collaboration and project management software: If you have a remote workforce, like so many people do today, is very easy to get lost figuring out who is doing what and when. These tools can alleviate that problem:
Time tracking: If you bill by the hour, keeping track of your time is critical. Here’s some help
Expense reporting: Still keeping all of those little receipts in your bag or wallet? Time to get with the times! Take a cellphone picture of the receipt, throw it away, and have it automatically downloaded into the database using tools from:
Create a hotspot: I have a pal who recently moved to a new city, and he was not going to have Internet access for a few days. Yet he still needed to work, do email, etc. What did he do? He created a hot spot from his smartphone. Here’s how.
3. Read: The best book I have ever read on being more productive is The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris. It is chock-full of great ideas. Read it, learn it, live it.
4. Log off: One thing I love about flying is that I can power through my emails without distraction because none are coming in. Logging off, ironically, is one of the top ways we can be more productive in this 24/7, always-on world.