Top 7 Productivity Tools for The Self-Employed
Working for yourself has a lot of amazing benefits, allowing you to choose your own working hours, to pursue your passions and to reap 100% of the rewards from all your hard work. Being self-employed transforms your job from something you have to do every day, to something you can't wait to do and are dying to get stuck into.
But while that's all true, being an entrepreneur also comes with its share of challenges. You get 100% of the reward, 100% of the profit, but also 100% of the responsibility. This is particularly true if you are a one-man (or woman) band, in which case you will have to manage every single aspect of your business and will have to wear multiple hats throughout the day.
For these reasons then, it pays to invest some time and money into setting up systems and finding tools you can use to get more work done. Here we will look at some of the very best tools out there that will make your life considerably easier.
1. Portable Scanner
A portable scanner is a device that lets you scan documents using a paper-feed similar to the way a printer works. What this means is that you can scan whole reams of documents without having to put each one in individually. The best of these will scan both the back and front too, meaning that you can take the staples out of a magazine and scan the whole thing in to read as a PDF on the tube.
Better yet, these scanners often incorporate OCR (optical character recognition), allowing you to search the documents, export to spreadsheets and Word files and do all kinds of other things. A great way for an entrepreneur to cut down their papers and move to a truly paperless office.
IFTTT stands for ‘If This, Then That' and is one of the most powerful online web apps you can use for managing your workload. What makes this so great is that it lets you synchronise multiple online accounts through services like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail etc. – so that for instance you can get e-mailed every time someone likes a picture, or you can have all of your tagged images download automatically into a Dropbox folder.
3. Multiscreen Multitasking THD
This is an app for mobile phones that lets you view more than one ‘window' at a time. It doesn't run your installed applications, but what it does instead is to run built in smaller ‘modules'. That way you can open a text editor next to a browser to work on the move writing articles or e-mails, or compare two websites. Another advantage is that it lets you create shortcuts on a desktop as though you were using a PC – which can directly load files or webpages for expedience and organisation.
4. Paper Tray
This most simple of investments is an absolute must for any home office – particularly one with multiple tiers for different papers. This way you can again cut your piles down to a minimum until you sort them properly, and you can keep your workspace looking much tidier too as a result.
Another very simple but very valuable tool for any entrepreneur is a notepad – as in a traditional paper and pen kind. This will be useful for jotting down notes, for working out ideas, for doodling and much more and is far more useful when it comes to multitasking than a second monitor.
6. Surface Pro 2
This is Microsoft's tablet that runs full Windows, and if you're looking to upgrade your machine then it's absolutely amazing in terms of what it can do. Write directly onto the screen with the stylus, run windows in a device small enough to hold in one hand (or use the Metro apps for a more relaxed experience), or add on the keyboard and an external monitor to turn it into a real powerhouse!
Okay so an entrepreneur who works from home doesn't have to adhere to a dress code, but still productivity gurus recommend wearing clothes that make you feel professional and this is particularly important if you are going to be meeting with clients. With a steamer you can dress well in a fraction of the time by ironing without the need for an ironing board!
Greg Fisher is the founder of Berkeley Sourcing Group. He started BSG eight years ago after realizing the need for efficient processes and coordination between manufacturing firms located in the United States and factories in China.