Wondering how to improve your business’ productivity? There’s an app for that

Choose the right tools for your business and you’ll never look back

How productive are you really? With our smart phones, tablets and ‘always on’ attitude, getting stuff done should be easy, but we seem busier than ever without necessarily achieving much more. It’s time you made technology work for you, to save time and streamline processes. We have rounded up some of the best apps to maximise your productivity by addressing your communication, organisation, password management, performance and focus.

Communication

Communication is at the heart of modern business. We are all part of a team but are less likely than ever to be sitting next to colleagues as we work. Technology has given us a choice of communication methods but it becomes time consuming dialling into group calls and remembering who likes to use which channel and which information arrived in which inbox. You can end up with a dozen programs running and that isn’t efficient. To be an effective communicator it helps to know who you are dealing with too, if you want to stay ahead of the game.

Slack is a communication hub that has everything you need in one place – calls, instant messages, files and notifications under one roof – indexed, archived and easily searchable so project information and comms are at your fingertips on every device. Similar to email or text but specifically designed for teamwork. You can create dedicated channels for groups or individual projects and private lines for sensitive information.

Skype has been around for a while and still leads in video conferencing. You can send instant messages, call Skype to Skype or Skype to phone and even patch in phone lines. With Skype you have your own number and you can share your screen for presentations etc.

WhatsApp may not have video capability but over a billion of us are giving the app room on our smartphones so it’s getting something right. Just like SMS (text) but using the internet not a cellular (wireless) account. Instant messaging, sharing media files, free app-to-app calls and easy to download – all good reasons to use it. And did we mention it’s free?

LinkedIn is the professional face of social networking. Build your profile, send messages  find other users and share information. Use it for networking, recruiting, checking out the competition but do use the opportunity to have your CV and recommendations available to prospective partners, clients and employees.

Organisation

Organisation seems to come more easily to some people than others and there is so much stuff to keep track of these days. Rather than a bunch of apps to make your life more complicated, focus on the one that will really help simplify your workload.

Evernote keeps a variety of notes on one subject all together. From audio or web pages to scanned business cards it can even search text in images. Not worth it for a shopping list but if you’re trying to keep project research/information together and want to be able to share with others. Evernote is a winner.

Toggle will help you see how productive you are really being. Whether you need accurate hours for billing clients or just want to keep track of your time management, you can track an unlimited number of projects and clients on or off-line with one click and share reports or generate time sheets.

Harvest goes a step further and will handle timesheets, invoices and expenses. Collating time for teams and projects helps you keep track of budgets, progress and productivity

Trello is a project management tool that integrates with Evernote. It’s your on line ‘to do’ list. Keeping track of progress, due dates etc is easy and visual for the whole team, whether that team is managing a new product launch or the busy workload at year end.. When you update a card, Trello notifies each member.

Google Drive is something you’ve already got if you use gmail. This easily integrated and shared document storage on the cloud will centrally hold files that you and others can edit in real time from any on-line device.

Genius Scan will turn your phone snaps into a pdf, edit and enhance so you can keep and file documents and receipts conveniently on the cloud.

Password Management

Password management can become a real time suck, we all know how important it is to have strong and unique electronic passwords but that can mean a lot of time spent waiting for that ‘re-set your password’ link email to come through because you can’t remember any of them. Technology has caught up with the problem and there are a clutch of password managers to help.

LastPass seems to consistently come out of comparisons on top.  Their virtual vault holds all your passwords and is encrypted – even from them – for maximum security and works on all your devices, generating super secure passwords and making online shopping easier.

1Password is particularly popular with Mac users and has recently introduced a ‘travel mode’ in response to users concerns about unwanted phone searches when they travel., All traces of your ‘vault’ of sensitive information are removed from your device while in travel mode so your data is untraceable.

Performance is not something to feel anxious about, especially when there are easy to use apps out there to help you shine with little effort.

Charlie that brilliant assistant who briefs you before every meeting on who’s who and what makes them tick. To help you make a good impression, Charlie collates information from 1000’s of sources to give you a one-pager on their professional life and anything you might have in common.

Accompany was founded by CEO Amy Chang (formerly Google’s Global Head of Product and a queen of analytics) and it uses data to make you perform better in person. Operating as your own intelligent and adaptive chief of staff, Accompany will give you an executive pre-meeting briefing – background on the people you meet and financials on companies. It promises you will ‘never be caught flat footed again’.

Improving your Focus

Focus, concentration, dedication to the task at hand, it seems increasingly difficult although, or more likely because, we are now ‘always on’, connected, engaged. Sometimes it helps to tune in if you can turn off.

Pocket is where you can pop anything nice, or useful, you’d like to keep for later. Videos, articles etc can be stored to view at leisure, even without an internet connection so there is no excuse for being distracted by the latest gossip or sports when you’re supposed to be concentrating on finishing a tax return.

Freedom releases you from the tyranny of distracting sites so your devices become work tools again. Set a recurring schedule of ‘free time’ for work in advance or institute your customised block list at any time. Of course you probably don’t need any help avoiding Instagram, Twitter, or on-line shopping when a deadline looms but if you did…

Simple Habit offers guided meditation in sessions as snackable as 5 minutes to improve stress or sleeping through mindfulness. It was created by an entrepreneur with her fellow startup founders in mind. Use it on your commute, walking, before a meeting or any time you need to reboot