Fortunately, with the number of tools on the market today, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the online resources that will help you to increase the amount you’re able to accomplish. The following are just a few of my favorites:
Tool #1 – Bitrix24
For some reason, Bitrix24 isn’t widely known -- and I think that’s a shame. The program combines a social intranet system with CRM tools that include contact tracking, sales funnel management, messaging, activity planning and calendars, all of which enable your team to quickly manage important pieces of information from within a central program.
Best of all, it’s free for teams with fewer than 12 people (subscription plans for larger groups are modestly priced as well).
Tool #2 – Yast
There are plenty of different time-tracking tools out there, but Yast is one of the best, by far. Its intuitive interface is easy to understand and simple to use, making tracking your time less of a chore and more of a business priority.
For best results, though, don’t just use this tool for business. Use it to track how much time you’re spending on unimportant tasks (e.g. goofing around online or watching TV at home) in order to “split test your life” and become more efficient overall.
Tool #3 – Trello
I’m not sure where the word “Trello” came from, but its definition should be, “project management simplified.” Combining elements of both Pinterest and Basecamp HQ, Trello allows users to create project boards and easily manage the people and resources associated with each task.
Plus, despite its simplified, easy to use system, Trello is still free for use by teams of all sizes.
Tool #4 – Sanebox**
Unsurprisingly, Sanebox performs the exact task described in its name: it restores some sanity to the clutter of your inbox. Once installed, the program automatically filters newsletters and other lower-priority email messages into a “Read Later” folder, ensuring that only priority communications reach your inbox.
Currently, the program runs for $55/year (with monthly and two-year subscriptions available as well), though you can take advantage of a 50 percent discount by allowing the company to post a few messages to your Facebook account. However, even if you aren’t comfortable with this, the roughly $5/month you’ll spend to install Sanebox is more than worth the time saved sifting through unimportant email messages.
(**Pro tip: If you run the Chrome browser, use the Baydin Email Game plugin to clean out your inbox before installing Sanebox. Using the two tools together doesn’t just make “Inbox Zero” a possibility, it makes it fun to reach as well!)
Tool #5 – WriteMonkey
If you’re working on a writing project that requires your complete focus, you need the WriteMonkey program. Once activated, the tool transforms your computer into a full-screen writing environment that blocks out the distractions of standard computer interfaces. Not only is it free to use, it’s highly customizable, allowing you to set the color schemes and options that make you as productive as possible.
Tool #6 – LastPass
It’s no secret that password management is an extremely important priority for business people – especially considering the recent hacking of Wired Magazine’s Mat Honan.
However, coming up with and remembering the hundreds of strong, secure passwords needed to manage multiple logins is inefficient and often downright impossible without a password management program like LastPass.
LastPass is a highly secure, free program that will automatically generate and store secure passwords, enabling you to create nearly un-hackable logins that are served up by the program whenever you need to login to a website. And while there are plenty of programs offering this functionality on the market today, I prefer LastPass for its mobile integrations (though you’ll need to upgrade to the $12/year premium subscription) and its range of multi-factor authentication processes (which protect your password data even more).
Tool #7 – HipChat
Finally, one area of efficiency that all organizations must consider is the amount of resources dedicated to internal communications. Holding meetings takes time, while distributing memos requires paper -- and if someone important is left out of the initial communication, both time and resources are wasted getting this person up to speed.
To eliminate these issues, we use the HipChat utility at Single Grain. It’s a private chat tool that allows us to create chat rooms for groups of users, send private messages between individual teammates and even share files that pertain to ongoing discussions. At only $2/user, per month, it’s an effective way to ensure that our projects are managed as efficiently as possible.
Obviously, these seven tools represent only a handful of the efficiency products that are available online today. If you’ve got another recommendation that’s made a difference in your organization’s productivity, share your thoughts in the comments section below!