Is it just me, or does running a business seem more demanding than ever? Between staying on top of all the to-dos, adopting the latest technology, following digital marketing trends and managing your data, you can be left to wonder how you'll possibly manage it all in a 24-hour day. Given these demands, and the increase in remote workforces, it's no wonder that in the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 45% of entrepreneurs are stressed out.

But the business world isn't just stressed out; it's also getting less done. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that productivity has only risen 1% YOY from 2015 to 2016, much less than the typical increase experienced earlier in the decade. So what's a busy entrepreneur to do? Streamline. By tapping into cloud-based technology that organizes and prioritizes your tasks, you can accomplish more in a given day, even while on the go.

If you want to boost your productivity and drive your business to the top, try these 5 essential tools for productivity-oriented businesses.

To-do lists

In an increasingly hectic business landscape, we'd be lost without a list that kept us on track. Apps like Google Tasks keep you in the loop on what you need to do, all the while seamlessly integrating with your Google account. With this app, the focus is on streamlining and simplifying tasking processes. You can easily highlight text across the web and add it as a new task with a click, or add emails as to do's. Plus, you can see your list in Gmail, Calendar, iCal and through Google Tasks, which is just good business sense in our increasingly crowded tech spheres.

Project management tools

The most effective project management systems provide cross-communication abilities that businesses need in an increasingly remote-work landscape. Having the right apps in place can make tracking invoices, timelines and reports a breeze--and make your job a lot simpler. Cloud-based project management systems like WorkflowMax provide end-to-end project management from quoting through to invoicing. You can even track time and costs as you go so you can stay on top of your profit at a per-project level. What business doesn't want that?

HR tools

You wouldn't manage your accounting, receivable or taxes via a spreadsheet, so why should your HR workflows rely on antiquated means and messy paperwork. GoCo.io is like a Quickbooks for HR & Benefits. It becomes your single central point of management for all HR needs, streamlining tedious workflows like employee on-boarding and off-boarding, document management, time off tracking, performance management, compliance and benefits administration to name a few. It seamlessly integrates with your existing payroll system as well as automatically transmits employee benefit selections and changes to your existing health insurance providers. If you are a business with employees to manage, GoCo.io will transform your workplace.

Note-taking apps

Even the sharpest minds forget important details sometimes. It's essential to take notes during meetings, on-the-go moments of inspiration, and those impromptu business interactions, but who wants to shuffle through notebooks and sheets of paper to find them later--not to mention try to decipher sloppy handwriting? Systems like Evernote give note-taking a much-needed tech upgrade. With this cloud-based app, you'll easily locate your most important notes via a keyword search, and can organize your notes in notebooks with tags. You can also streamline apps by creating to-do lists, or store photos of important details you need to draw on for business later. It's an entire filing system that you can access from any platform, wherever you go.

Email management

People often have a love-hate relationship with their email. It's a great, fast way to communicate--and yet it has a tendency to suck the hours from your day as you try to stay on top of that plethora of incoming messages. What's a savvy business person to do? The key to better productivity is email management. Front answers the call by integrating a team-oriented email management system with your existing apps and tools. Assign emails to team members, get real-time notifications when teammates are responding to conversations or archive emails, organize conversations with tags, and set them to snooze for later follow-up. Consider this the ultimate email upgrade.

Business in the 21st century doesn't have to slow down your productivity. With the right tech systems in place, you can create structure in your day, and actually focus on getting things done--no matter where in the world your business takes you.

Perks All the tools in the world will not help you to improve and maintain employee morale if the underlying tone of appreciation is absent. Employees who feel overworked and undervalued typically do one of two things (sometimes both): they lag behind in their productivity or they jump ship. The truth is, all business owners would be wise to ensure that their employees receive rewards for their work that extend beyond the typical paycheck.

Keep your creme of the crop employees on board by starting with a good benefits package. Services that offer free lunch programs, haircuts and massages are just a few of the work perk benefits you can provide to your employees that can motivate them to produce their best work and stay with your company. Consider bringing in the cleaning staff from Cleanify to clear up your employee's working space, or the catering services from companies like Cater2Me for lavish lunches. Companies like Sooth, who provide massage services, can help you and your employees relax without ever leaving the office. Focusing on these perks have proven to improve employee productivity in the workplace and are a great way to drive employees to put in their best work. As you consider the types of benefits you'd like to give your employees, it's crucial to keep in mind that the people who come to work for you each day have a huge and influential role in the success of your company. You don't have to break the bank with your perks, but be sure that they reflect the weight and value of your employees.

Published on: Mar 28, 2017