When you run a small business, there's never enough time in the day. Your task list is as long as a shopping receipt, and it seems to stay the same length no matter how many items you check off. And, of course, you probably want to make time for your significant other on top of that. It's no wonder you're stressed.
Small-business loan provider Fundera surveyed several hundred business owners last year and found that 19 percent of small-business owners work more than 60 hours a week. It also found that 70 percent work more than 40 hours a week, and 89 percent work on weekends.
You're most likely overseeing a litany of business operations, from hiring and sales to marketing and customer service. Improving your productivity isn't only about working harder or faster, it's also about working smarter. Leveraging tools can help you make the most of your time.
Google Docs is one of the tools most widely used by entrepreneurs these days. It can help you squeeze the most out of every hour and run your business more effectively. But are you using it as efficiently as possible? Here are some ideas that can help you optimize it.
1. Get organized with color coding.
Business owners use Google Docs and Sheets for everything from tracking employee hours to creating marketing collateral. Over time, your Drive can get pretty messy and crowded. And if you can't remember the exact name of a doc or sheet, you're forced to waste time looking for it.
Color coding your folders will stop this. You'll locate your materials far more easily. First, create new folders and sort your docs. Next, right click or control click any folder. Select "Change Color" and choose from any of the 24 hues.
2. Make conference calls from within a doc.
Add-ons are companion apps for G Suite that allow you to perform a variety of tasks. Let's say you're collaborating on a Google doc with two of your employees. The UberConference add-on lets you book a conference call with your collaborators right from the sidebar.
To get the add-on, open your doc, and then click "Add-ons" and "Get Add-ons." Type "UberConference" into the search bar and click the blue plus sign. Then allow the app to access your Google account.
To launch the add-on, click the add-ons menu and select "UberConference/Launch Sidebar."
3. Use templates for recurring projects.
If you find yourself struggling to format project proposals, meeting agendas, or customer invoices, use a template you can quickly modify as needed. This way you don't have to start from scratch every time.
Navigate to drive.google.com/templates and choose from a variety of preformatted docs. This list includes business letters, project proposals, onboarding notes, and job-offer letters.
Other templates, like consulting agreements, sales quotes, and statements of work, are available as add-ons.
4. Add your signature to a document.
How many times have you printed a document, signed it, then scanned and emailed it to someone? Imagine how much time you'd save over the course of a year if you could add your signature to a document with the click of a button.
The PandaDoc add-on inserts your e-signature to a doc from any device. After you get the add-on, you'll be prompted to connect to PandaDoc and create an account. Once that's done, activate the add-on to open a sidebar and draw your signature. Click it to add it to your doc.
5. Use your voice to type.
There are plenty of situations where it might be more convenient to speak your draft than type it. Try the Voice Typing feature to speed up the creation of a Google doc.
From Tools, select "Voice Typing." Click the black microphone icon and begin speaking after it turns red. You can add common punctuation by saying "period," "comma," "exclamation point," or "question mark."
6. Send a fax without a fax machine.
Have a love-hate relationship with your fax machine? The HelloFax add-on enables you to fax documents from within Google Docs. It may inspire you to kick that clunky machine to the curb once and for all.
To fax a Google doc, simply open the add-on, enter the fax number, and click "Send." Add an optional cover page in less than 20 seconds.
When you use these hacks to extend your abilities, you can get more done in less time. Who knows, you might even clock a 40-hour workweek for a change.