With the exception of the one day each year when we turn our clocks back, no one has figured out how to add more hours to the day. Until that discovery is made, the best we can do is use the time we do have more efficiently. Work smarter not harder, as they say (easier said than done!).
While there's no miracle tool that will eliminate the hard work, there are some excellent digital resources that will help you work smarter. Boost your efficiency in project management, email usage, social media, and consumer relationship management with these seven free tools.
Prepare yourself for the bleak reality of how much time you spend on Facebook with RescueTime. This program runs in the backgrounds of your computer and mobile devices, traces how you spend your screen time, and sends alerts when you've hit set time limits on specific websites or activities (like emailing). RescueTime's detailed analytics will help you understand what your time sucks are so you can more easily eliminate them.
2. Boomerang for Gmail
If you spend late nights drafting emails but (wisely) wait to send them until the next day so they don't get lost in the overnight junk mail shuffle, install Boomerang instead. This Gmail app lets you schedule emails to be sent later so you don't have to revisit your drafts folder in the morning. This free tool also enables read receipts and click tracking, and sends reminders to follow up with someone if they haven't responded to your email.
Once a tool that made us more productive, email has evolved into a bane of productivity. Take control of your inbox by moving some of your project management from your inbox to Trello. This project management tool puts all aspects of a project on one easy-to-review board so all project collaborators can communicate, review, and track time sans email.
Figuring out how you ended up on every mailing list under the sun is impossible, but unsubscribing from these spam emails is actually pretty easy. Clean up your inbox with Unroll.me, which lets you unsubscribe from mailing lists in one click. For the emails you peruse sometimes (without loving all the inbox space they take up), Unroll.me aggregates them into one daily digest.
If your presentations are looking a little 1995-esque, but you don't have the time or in-house graphics department to jazz them up, check out projeqt. With this tool you can enhance existing PowerPoint or PDF presentations with dynamic content (think live tweet feeds, interactive maps, streaming videos, and audio), or design new ones from scratch. Not only does projeqt spruce up your presentations, it also makes them easier to share and access across multiple devices.
Most small-business owners will be their own social-media interns at some point (ah, the glamour of entrepreneurship!), and managing multiple feeds is time consuming. Streamline it with Buffer, a dashboard that links multiple social-media accounts, lets you schedule future posts, and has a Buffer for Business paid option that reports analytics. For all of you visual posters, Buffer recently expanded its services to include Instagram.
7. HubSpot CRM
Though your contacts may not be aware that there is a best time to email them, HubSpot CRM sure is. Among its many time-saving functions, this CRM (Consumer Relationship Management) tool shows you what time contacts open your messages and which links they've clicked to help you better target your communications. HubSpot CRM also provides helpful email templates, an appointment booking system to avoid back-and-forth availability emails, and insight into which companies visit your webpage to help target new business prospects.