When you start a business, time is money. And anything you can do to save time and be more productive is worth doing, isn’t it? Here we look at 13 productivity apps that can help you do more in less time, and for little or no money. What’s really great is how different entrepreneurs use each productivity tool differently.
Evernote is basically an online notebook where you can capture info and pictures from the web or type your own notes. I just found this article about how to really use Evernote, and realize it’s got a lot more function than I’ve given it credit for.
If you’re looking to save time and have one place to house your notes and info, here’s how to use it:
- Record audio at meetings, and type notes to accompany
- Clip snippets of text from websites and type notes to remind yourself why you clipped it (even from your mobile)
- Send your notes or clippings to other team members
What it costs: Basic Evernote, which is sufficient for most, is free to use. The business version is $10 per user per month, and lets you share notebooks with team members.
I honestly don’t know why anyone would pay for a landline anymore. Between cell phones and Skype, there’s no reason phone calls have to be expensive. With Skype, you can:
- Call non-Skype phones
- Send instant messages
- Set up video calls
- Create group calls of up to 25 people
- Call international numbers for a fraction of landline prices
What it costs: Basic Skype is free, and you have the option to buy credits for calls that cost (international).
If you have a lot of large files that you share among team members, you’ll appreciate this productivity tool. Dropbox makes it easy to share without emailing the files (which might get caught in spam filters). With Dropbox you can:
- Use the desktop client to move a copy of any of your files for your team to access
- Get a hyperlink to any file
- Store large files like photos in the cloud
What it costs: It’s free for up to 18 GB of storage, then Pro plans start at $9.99 per month.
4. Google Drive
I adore Google, especially Google Drive. This is one of my favorite productivity apps ever! I’ve saved so much time not creating Word or Excel documents, emailing them, getting a new version, downloading that one, and then trying to figure out which one is the newest. Here’s how I use Google Drive:
- Create folders for projects or clients
- Create word processing docs, spreadsheets, forms, or presentations
- Share docs with clients so we can both make changes
- View revisions others have made
I actually put my foot down with most clients almost two years ago, and use Drive exclusively!
What it costs: Nothing!
I’d heard about Bump before researching for this post, but I thought its main function was exchanging contact info between two phones. Turns out, you can now exchange photos and files between a computer and a mobile. I downloaded the Android app, but couldn’t successfully transfer the data. It was fun trying, though! You tap your spacebar with the phone and it vibrates, then transfers the selected files.
What it costs: Nothing!
Expensify’s slogan is “expense reports that don’t suck!” If you have to keep track of expenses or receipts, you can use this productivity tool to scan receipts or input expenses directly from your phone. If you’re traveling, this comes in handy. Who wants to keep track of all those paper receipts? Other features include:
- Integration with Quickbooks
- Ability to track mileage manually or using GPS
- SmartScan function scans receipt, then fills out details from it
- Ability to log time spent on client projects
What it costs: Free for an individual or contractor, then $5 or $10 per submitter per month
If you’re like me, you use your emails as a task list. Asana takes the email out of the equation by organizing all the tasks and communication on a project in one place. It keeps inboxes clear, and provides a designated owner of every task, resulting in less falling through the cracks.
- Set priorities and due dates for tasks
- Reduce meetings and status reports, since all statuses are available to your team
- Access tasks on a computer or mobile device
What it costs: It’s free for a basic account, then plans start at $50/month for 15 users.
If you do a lot of business travel, you know the headache it is to download a mobile app for every airline you fly, as well as keep up with itineraries, especially if you’re also managing travel for your team. TripIt is a productivity app that lets you do tons in one place:
- Manage multiple employees’ itineraries
- Get updates on flight status
- Search for alternate flights
What it costs: Free for basic. More functionality for $49 a year.
I’m seeing more business owners using this nifty device that lets you capture payments from your iPhone or iPad. Square is appealing to business owners because it’s mobile and easy to use, and you get deposits from your transactions within a few business days. If you haven’t been accepting credit cards, Square makes it easy to do. I’m a member of my local business association, and the President uses Square to collect membership dues.
What it costs: Either 2.75% per transaction or $275/month
10. JotNot Scanner Pro
There are many productivity apps designed to let you scan documents from your mobile phone. JotNot is one that’s available for iPhones and iPads. Some things you could scan include:
- Business cards
- Statements or bills
What it costs: It’s a $.99 app in the iTunes store
I thrive with Hootsuite. It’s been my go-to tool for managing multiple social media accounts for years, and I finally upgraded to a paid account. Here’s how I get the most out of it:
- Save time by scheduling a batch of posts to publish throughout the week
- Switch between client social accounts
- Set up columns to track certain hashtags I want to follow
What it costs: Free basic, then $8.99 a month for additional users and profiles
What do you do with that stack of business cards you collect after an event or conference? Let them gather dust, or throw them away? CamCard lets you scan the card to collect the contact info from it. You can access the contact information from any device, and it’s available for all phone types.
What it costs: There’s a free version, though some charge for certain apps.
13. Windows Live Writer
A productivity tool I think doesn’t get enough attention is Windows Live Writer. I realize not everyone blogs on multiple sites like I do, but once you set up your blog login credentials, you can blog through this desktop app, then publish to your site. It’s especially nice when I’m on a plane without wifi; I can write to my heart’s content and publish later.
What it costs: Nothing!
This post could be endless, but these are some of the productivity apps I personally use, as well as a few I’m now introduced to. Here are a few others I’ve heard are great.
What productivity tools do you use, and how do you use them?