These tools and apps will help you make the most of your time.
If you are always looking for a way to free up more time as a business owner or entrepreneur, this article should help. Sometimes it's not so much how you schedule your time but the tools you use to manage the time you have.
I've come across five such tools that deal with some of the essential business tasks you do each day to save you research time.
Five time management tools you shouldn't be without
If you find yourself needing to be more productive during the day, maybe these five apps will help you increase your productivity and maximize the time you spend on tasks. Some of these tools are focused on managing staff, scheduling events or appointments, while others are more about how to manage your time and organize your business tasks.
1. Use an employee scheduling solution
If you are managing hourly workers, look into an employee scheduling solution called OpenSimSim. It helps you create, distribute and manage your schedules and staff communications.
If you are currently scheduling using paper or Excel spreadsheets, your time savings should be 80 percent or more. Imagine never having to stress about phoning around to find workers needed to fill a shift. OpenSimSim allows you to see who is available and send them an invite regarding the open shift that goes directly to their mobile. Other features include in-app chat, the ability to save and reuse schedule templates and workflows to manage shift swaps and time off.
This scheduling application is cloud-based. You can log in through the website, plus there's an app for both iPhone and Android devices so employees are always kept in the loop, and managers can manage from anywhere.
It was recently recognized by Capterra as one of 2017's Best Value and Most Recommended employee scheduling solutions, and for good reason, it's free.
2. Contact forms or appointment scheduling
Another great business tool you need if you're running a company is one that allows you to quickly create forms. There are lots of these types of tools that are available online for small or medium-sized businesses. You can start with one like Cognito Forms. This application lets you create robust forms to handle anything from the simple to the complex with only a few steps.
Once you create a form, you can then publish it by embedding it on your website or sharing the link to the form directly with Google Plus, Facebook or Twitter. Manage your contacts and send form links out to your target audience or employees so they can give their input on various issues or questions. You can review your forms and responses anytime.
In addition to form creators, you may want to use an online appointment scheduler such as Setmore. This nifty online scheduler and calendar application lets customers schedule an appointment with you online based on your current availability.
It's a robust tool that does more than just appointment scheduling. Some of the features with Setmore include:
3. Email/artificial intelligence scheduler
If you are looking for a solution to save time, you might want to look into an automated email scheduler. While it's always best to answer your emails in real time, sometimes you just can't be present every time a customer has a question or needs something. But telling a customer that you will get back with them at your earliest convenience can send the wrong message. There are many automated software programs that will fill this need such as Aweber or MailChimp.
4. Eliminate clutter and interruptions
One of the most challenging problems business owners come across is how to eliminate confusion and lower the number of interruptions. So much can happen in one business day that it is sometimes impossible to decide what is most important. The best way to do this is just to turn things off. Your phone can be silenced. Your email can be shut down. You can disable Facebook and other social media applications while you focus on the tasks at hand.
There are also a few apps out there that help you keep distractible websites at bay such as Block Apps, a free Android application that allows you to block out the apps that are most distracting so you can get more done.
5. Outsource or hire VA for tedious tasks
If you've never considered hiring a virtual assistant for your business, you may want to consider doing that. Tim Ferris writes in his now famous book, "The 4-Hour Workweek," that one of the best tools a business owner has is the ability to outsource.
What you outsource is just as important as whether you outsource, so think carefully about which jobs you should delegate to others. Most entrepreneurs agree that you should assign the most menial or systematic tasks to a virtual assistant while saving the more critical decision-making jobs for yourself or an assistant manager or team manager.
By getting rid of some of the more mundane tasks that take up your time, you can free up the time to focus on the more complex functions that help you increase your productivity and results.
Why we need some distractions
Psychologists tell us we need some distractions to keep our mind fresh and to keep us from getting lethargic. It can be a small distraction – playing a quick game on your computer or online, checking Facebook or email, or other similar activity. The problem is that the time you take to engage in such brain refreshers can go on longer than you had planned, causing you to lose valuable time.
But with a little self-discipline and the use of some of these helpful tools and apps, you can use your time more wisely and spend it on the things that matter, and that will give you better results.
Do your research and see which tools help you. You'll have the best year ever in 2018!