In the life of a busy entrepreneur, there's so much to do, yet so little time. Thankfully, we now have more productivity tools, apps, and services than ever before.
These productivity tools are designed to help us make sense of the countless tasks, overflowing to-dos and endless distractions we encounter on a daily basis. For entrepreneurs who juggle running a business, family life, staying fit and having fun, finding the right balance can be very elusive.
To keep you focused on your goals without losing your mind, here are some of the best productivity tools, apps and services I've found to help entrepreneurs work, play and live a better life.
Like any asset or investment, your health and mental clarity requires a lot of care and monitoring. The Fitbit family of wearable fitness trackers and devices will watch your vitals and calorie intake, keeps you physically active even in the midst of a busy day and rouses you with a vibrating alarm when it’s time to wake up in the morning. Depending upon your budget or preferences, you can strap on several different Fitbit wearable options ranging from $59 — $249 and use their companion mobile app to stay in shape.
Concentration and focus. Two rare words in a universe of distractions. With so many things — both digital and otherwise — competing for our attention, getting work done fast and easy has become much more difficult than it used to be. Thankfully, StayFocusd promises to keep your attention from straying towards time-wasting and energy-sapping websites, apps and activities. Highly configurable, this extension for Google Chrome will help you work with uninterrupted purpose.
I wholeheartedly believe that time is the entrepreneur's most precious resource. It’s your biggest business investment and the most valuable thing you can share with the people you love. OffTime helps you manage the time you spend online so you can spend more of it on the things that matter most. Because the Internet often works like an addictive leash, you need a single-minded tool like OffTime to automatically unplug your connection to virtual distractions so you can find balance, happiness and peace of mind.
Everyone has endured the annoying hassle of emailing back and forth to set a meeting, call or interview. Free tonight at 8? No? How about tomorrow at 2pm? No? How about next week or the month after next? I know you can relate to this. Calendly is a true game-changer when it comes to scheduling. It's an online productivity tool that makes it incredibly easy for everyone to connect and schedule meetings with just a couple of clicks.
5. Inbox When Ready for Chrome
How often do you get distracted by email notifications and the absurd urge to read or reply to dozens of distracting messages at a time? If your answer, like me, is “a lot,” then you have a humongous problem like the rest of us. Don’t get me wrong. Email is a great business tool, but it becomes such a heavy burden when you need to concentrate on more important work. The Inbox When Ready extension for Chrome keeps your inbox out of sight by default so you can focus on getting more work done — rather than spending your day inside of your inbox.
6. Inbox by Gmail
When you do need to see your inbox, better see it in style. Built by the same folks who brought you Gmail, Inbox is email on steroids. Besides a cool new UI, Inbox also organizes your messages in neat bundles so you don't drown in confusion and you'll quickly see the ones that truly matter. View flight status, order updates and pictures without opening a message. All promos are in one place. So are your purchases. Create custom bundles based on your workflow, lifestyle and subscriptions — then snooze non-urgent emails to deal with at a later date.
Incidentally, you can nab a grand slam by following through with Boomerang, a Gmail add-on that schedules when you send and receive messages. You can, for example, write an email for your employees at midnight and just instruct Boomerang to send it at 9am the next morning to avoid overwhelming your team. The add-on also reminds you when you need to follow up after sending an important email and hides messages in your inbox until you actually need to see them.
8. Todo Cloud
Checklist apps come and go by the dozen, but Todo Cloud takes the genre to a whole new level. This award-winning task management service provides a simple way for people to collaborate on things they need to do, so they can tick them off as fast as possible. People use it as individuals, families, teams, or entire organizations. Todo Cloud is so good at boosting your productivity (it integrates calendars, contacts, emails, and geolocation services) that it bagged the Best Productivity App for iPad Award.
Sure, having a lot of options might be fun. But when it comes to writing, seeing countless tabs, buttons and toolbars on your word processor can be too distracting. If you need to write something fast with utter concentration, then you need to write on a clean, minimal slate like ZenPen. To block out anything that distracts your creative flow, visit the site and be the killer wordsmith you're meant to be.
10. Google Drive
Access your files anytime, anywhere and from any device. Google Drive gives you 15 GB of free cloud storage where you can save photos, files, eBooks, videos, music, designs, reports, pdfs, presentations, spreadsheets and any other digital document. You can keep files private or share specific ones with contacts to view, download, edit and collaborate.
11. IFTTT and Zapier
Think of these two productivity tools as command centers and dashboards for other apps. IFTTT enables you to bring useful programs called applets together in one hub. With it, you can check the weather, open the driveway, send a tweet, post on Instagram, create playlists on Spotify and automatically perform other tasks based on pre-defined rules and behaviors. Meanwhile, Zapier automates tasks across hundreds of apps and web services. With it, you can auto-store email attachments to your Google Drive or Dropbox account, for example. Use it to automate other redundant tasks and free up time for you to focus on more important work.
Lauded by industry experts and leading publications, this productivity app helps you manage your time so well, you’re sure to find and enjoy that elusive work-life balance. RescueTime analyzes your daily habits and tells you when you’ve been distracted too much. Running securely in the background, it gives updates on how much time you’ve spent on different websites, performing certain tasks, tracks how much you’ve accomplished and whether you’ve achieved your productivity goals.
Entrepreneurs need to take notes all the time. From recording a brilliant idea to creating a checklist, drawing a map, setting a reminder, sketching a plan and writing. With Evernote, you can do all these tasks anywhere using any device. Evernote organizes all of your notes in the cloud and makes it easy for them to be shared and accessed from anywhere, online and off.
Whether you're a marketing professional or an entrepreneur looking to get more traction, MeetEdgar is your new best friend. MeetEdgar organizes and republishes your best content across connected social media channels to drive more traffic to your website. Like a diligent virtual assistant, MeetEdgar automatically posts status updates and shares catchy content at pre-determined times each day. When your content pipeline goes dry, MeetEdgar simply recycles older updates and repurposes them.
You need strong passwords to keep your business secure. What you don't need is the nightmare experience of forgetting or losing the sticky note where you store your passwords. LastPass securely stores, remembers and allows for team sharing of your passwords. It also lets you auto-fill payment and shipping details, and store important digital records such as insurance cards and WiFi access codes in a protected vault.
Infuse some fun into project management with Trello, a cloud-based application with a catchy but simple drag-and-drop UI and messaging support for team collaboration. The app works on your desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone, allowing you and your team to use it just about anywhere. Able to integrate with other applications such as Salesforce, Slack and Github, Trello's popularity and potential attracted Atlassian into recently purchasing it for $425 million.
17. OneTab for Chrome
Unless you're using the fastest laptops known to man, your habit of keeping dozens of tabs open at the same time in your browser window will use up your computer's memory and drag its performance to a crawl. Install the OneTab extension for Chrome and reduce browser clutter. It also frees up to 95 percent of memory by converting all of your tabs into a list, instead of a bunch of loading pages. You can restore the list as individual items or as a whole anytime you'd like.
18. Proud App
The good news: Proud is arguably the most intuitive and impactful productivity app in the universe. The bad news: It works only on Apple devices. Nonetheless, Proud helps you get organized by setting goals, creating lists and scheduling reminders so that you’ll eventually work better and faster.