I don't know about you, but I can't function without having a lot on my plate. I'm one of those 'work-well-under-pressure' type of entrepreneur.
One thing that I can't stand is repetitive tasks; tasks that could and should be automated. I always look for ways to improve my productivity – if I can shave five minutes off something I do every day that adds up to a huge ROI.
Here are 10 tools that help do just that:
If you, like most people, use Gmail or Google Apps as your email interface, this plugin is a must have.
I have read every variation of Getting Things Done (GTD) there is. From articles to books, I try to live by the general principles of the teachings. In a nutshell, your goal is to organize your to-do list. If you're like me, most of your to-dos exist within your email – so why not turn your email into a GTD system? ActiveInbox does just that by letting you categorize tasks: Action Items, Waiting On, Someday Tasks. The rest of the GTD principles become a layer within your Gmail account. The utility can range from basic principles that take 15 minutes to advanced methodologies for the super-organized. I don't use any other to-do system. ActiveInbox is it. Additionally, the simplest way to add a personal to-do, like to pick up groceries, is to send an email to yourself!
When you're on the go, it can get hectic trying to let different people know where you're at or when you'll be there. Glympse is a mobile app that allows you to share where you are, with whomever you like, and quickly (without signing in or requiring the other user to have an app or even a phone).
Unlike Google Latitude or other location sharing apps, Glympse only shares your location around a specific time interval. In fact, it can even stop sharing automatically when you get to your location. Going to a scheduled meeting? With one button it sends an email or text to your scheduled meeting attendees. When they click that link, a simple Google map opens with your location, how fast you're going, and approximately when you'll get there. It's the ultimate response to "where are you?"
Swype is a record-breaking solution to typing—swiping is more accurate—on your touchscreen smart phone. It comes from the same group that made T9 (remember how we used to text on a number pad?). After a couple weeks of using it, you'll never want go back to a regular keyword.
Instead of touching each letter to type, you just drag your finger from letter to letter. It's known to let users type around 40 words per minute on their mobile phones.
End the back and forth of trying to settle on one meeting time that works for a whole group of people. With Tungle.me, however, everyone can easily see your availability (or unavailability) and select options for the time and duration of each meeting. It also incorporates e-calendars from Google, Outlook, iCal, and many others to make scheduling meetings much more efficient and streamlined.
To build my personal brand through social media, I make sure I have relevant and consistent content to share. I don't have much time to post what I find for each account, so I use Buffer to do it for me. Buffer will automatically queue content that I select and post it at the time I choose. It's pretty handy for when I find something interesting through aimless browsing. To make the most of this tool, I've integrated it with SocialBro, which scans my Twitter followers to tell me when the majority of them are reading my tweets. That way, I can make the most of every tweet I send out and know I'm reaching out in the best way possible.
Skype is hands down the best free video-chat software available. Almost everyone in a business setting uses it, making it the preeminent place to connect with coworkers and colleagues instantly. I don't have to wait to know when someone is available, as Skype will let you know when they're online, offline, or currently away. Either way, through Skype I can get a message through quickly and know it's been received.
The best part about Skype is that it has both free and premium accounts available. You have plenty of options to contact someone by instant message, or by calling (just voice or with video). Skype is also available for free on Android, iPhone, and iPad, allowing video calls and IM over 3G or WiFi.
Keeping track of all the new names when I'm networking is exhausting. Usually when I tell people to email me, it's because WriteThat.Name will help me to get their information organized and saved. This tool uses the information from the signatures of emails to sort and archive contacts automatically. It operates on cloud architecture, so it only requires your email to use the service. I've saved hours of tedious updating through this tool by purchasing a daily merge of information for only $3 a month, but a free version will do the same once a month.
A cluttered inbox is a cluttered mind. I easily get distracted from sorting my inbox of junk emails and unsubscribing from lists, all of which don't interest me in the first place. Luckily, Unroll.me helps to cut time and distraction by allowing me to mass unsubscribe from lists, and organize the emails I do receive into one single email.
When I have to share an image and do it quickly, I always end up going straight to Imgur. Imgur is a free image hosting site that requires no sign in. What's even better is that the link can be used in emails, IMs, and through social media.
Wikisend is like Imgur—but for sending files. With no login required, you can upload and share files up to 100MB. It cuts the time and hassle of sending files through email and downloading them, only to find you need to update your software or the file is corrupted.
When looking to maximize my time, I try to examine the details rather than the big processes, for that is where you have the most opportunity to become more efficient. Maybe you'll spend five minutes per task without these tools, but in the course of a day, that's an hour a day lost. Doing the math into what that can be in weeks or months should be enough motivation to make a change in your daily routine.