Productivity Hacks for Small Businesses

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Have you ever felt you are on a treadmill to nowhere!  Despite working hard all day you aren’t productive? You are not alone. There are so many systems and tools out there to help with productivity. We are listing some of the best ones we use to keep ourselves on track and to maximize our productivity

The First Step To Productivity, Our Tools For Focus

  1. Turn off all your phone notifications so they are not distracting. Incoming notifications for social media and email actually cause you more stress and make you less productive. At the back of your mind you want to take a quick peek to see what’s happening in case you miss something IMPORTANT.  You need to be in charge of your schedule, not somebody else, certainly not your phone. Set a schedule to check emails and handle social media. 3X/day.
  2. Write a list each night of the 3 most important items you need to accomplish. Tackle these 3 items BEFORE you check your email or social media the next morning.
  3. Each morning, get your mind and body ready for the day by trying a combination of relaxing, exercise and affirmation. It should only take you five minutes of focus to get your mindset in the right place to tackle the tasks ahead.

Break large tasks down into smaller junks and start knocking them off your list. If say you want to write a book, the easiest way to get started is to write in short spurts every day. As you get into your subject matter, you will find that what starts out as 30 minutes per day, will increase every day. After 100 days of writing, you will be surprised at how much you will get down on paper. Don’t worry about the organization, grammar, spelling, and style. All that can be achieved later, especially if you have a great editor. 97% of people who want to write a book, don’t get it done because they have too much fear of the large task, therefore, don’t even get started because they are overwhelmed.

Any large business project also can be broken down into smaller parts and a team organized to complete the project. Teamwork is essential for achieving results. But just as importantly selecting the right team members for the project is key. Team members can be made up of a diverse group ie contractors, vendors or employees, however, each member of a team should be selected for a key contribution.  Kick the laggards off your team if you are looking for results!

Tools for Productivity

Teamwork

1) Asana: free software for teams to work on projects together. Tasks can be assigned to different team members and updates are tracked.

2) Slack: free software that is similar to Asana. This is a favorite of millennials.

Social Media Management

1) PromoRepublic: new software that combines Hootesuite with Canva. Current promotion is $49.00/lifetime. You can add multiple social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook pages and groups, Twitter and Instagram. The software has already made pictures and copy which you can use as is or replace with your own content/pictures. It has a feature to schedule out your posts for the day and time that best suits your audience.
2) Canva: Free and premium versions to manage the graphics for your social media/ebooks/promotions/advertising. You can you their stock templates or edit them as needed or start from scratch. Canva stock photos are available for purchase at $1.00 US/each.

Graphics

There are a few sites for finding free photo stock for your website or social media.
1) Google Images: Note, for each picture you want to use you check the settings under the advanced tab for “Usage Rights”. If the image is free it will say: “ CC0 Creative Commons, Free for commercial use, no attribution required as per this example of the geese.

Please note if you see any “Getty Images” these are NOT free and Getty Images has an aggressive collection agency that will go after you if they see you have used their images without purchasing them. Beware, the fines are large!

 

2) Pixabay: Some of their images are free, such as the geese picture above.
3) Unsplash: This site has completely free images for a wide variety of uses and is updated on a weekly basis.

Editing Images

You may not have photoshop or InDesign but for simple edits, you can use the free software such as
1) Paint.net (for PC)
2) Gimp

Or low cost
3) Photoshop Elements

Subscription Services For Photos

If you are using graphics/photos for blogs and client work, look into a subscription to a service such as
1)Stock Photo Secrets Shop – Special for Small-to-Medium Businesses
2)  Shutterstock – King of High Volume Subscription
3) iStock – Leader in Exclusive Images
4) Adobe Stock – Perfect Fit for Designers with Creative Cloud
5) Depositphotos – First in Pricing and Buying Model Variety

Managing Documents

1) One Drive and One Note (for PC and MAC – comes with Windows 10)
Although these are Microsoft products, as PC Magazine points out
“Microsoft’s online backup and syncing service are still very flexible and cross-platform capable, with syncing and access apps not only for PCs, but also for Macs, Androids, iOS devices, and Windows Phones. It integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office 2016 (both the installed and online versions) and includes rich photo presentation. Apple’s competing iCloudFree at Apple is only available for Apple devices. And while iCloud Drive and Google Drive now make stuff stored in that cloud service available on the Web, OneDrive tops that by even making PC files that you didn’t specifically upload available. For all this power and flexibility—not to mention eminently attractive and usable interface, OneDrive remains a PCMag Editors’ Choice.”
Evernote versus One Note
Lifehacker.com did a comparison between Evernote and One Note and One Note has improved to the point where it is probably the best go-to productivity tool for most applications except the clipping tool, where Evernote still has the upper hand.

Scheduling Meetings

1) Doodle

Software For Document Signing

1) Docusign

Best Text Editing/Grammar Check Tool

1) Grammarly: You may be using your word processing software for grammar and spellcheck but our favorite tool is Grammarly. This free software can be used everywhere you are writing copy, whether it is in Word or on facebook/twitter etc. There are no more excuses for poor grammar or spelling.

Managing Your Email Lists

There are four different kinds of software for managing your email lists and campaigns ranging from free to more expensive. We leave it up to you to choose which is the best provider for your business.
1) Mailchimp
2) Constant Contact
3) AWeber
4) Infusionsoft

Business Card Followups

1) CamCard software
This software has a camera app which scans business cards and puts all the relevant information right into the contacts on your phone. You can download the app from your phone app store.

Managing your Passwords

PC Magazine does a great job of rating all the password managing sites.   Choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.

There are so many productivity tools that you can use in your business. We have just introduced a few that work for us. If you have a favorite that we haven’t listed, let us know what the tool is and how you use it. We will be happy to add it to our list in the future.

XL Consulting Group helps entrepreneurs with business/marketing strategies including social media best practices and full website development for creating a brand presence that will get results.  Contact us now for your 30 minute complimentary call.

Marketing Strategist and web designer at XL Consulting Group. Author of Fabulous Fempreneurship, a startup guide for women entrepreneurs.

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