Ways for Small Business Owners to Increase Online Productivity

By Cathy Habas

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When you log on to your computer each morning, what is the first thing you do? Do you go straight to your work emails and read them all without replying? Do you automatically open up Facebook and scroll through the latest pictures and posts?

Perhaps your work routine needs a bit of a makeover. Computers, tablets and smartphones are amazing devices that allow us to accomplish so much as professionals, but they also distract us with a million and one games and entertainment sites. We are creatures of habit, so if you routinely get off track during the workday, the good news is that you can retrain yourself to focus and be more productive.

Fortunately, you don’t need an iron will to form good new habits. There are plenty of apps and online tools that can help you along the way! (Special thanks for Nominus.com for providing a few inputs)

 

Remember the Milk

Too many things bouncing around in your head can make you feel stressed. Writing down your to-do list takes some of the pressure off of you to remember every little thing you need to get done, but that’s only half the battle. What if you leave your to-do list behind? What if something is time-sensitive and the hours pass by before you know it?

That’s where a to-do list app such as Remember the Milk can come in handy. Organize your tasks into categories so that you can separate your work and personal life, see what needs to get done on the road or what has to happen online, etc. Then set reminders so that you’ll never miss a deadline! Everyone will be impressed with your efficiency, but if you want your whole team to stay organized too, this is a secret that is worth keeping out in the open.

 

Do

Meetings are certainly important, but it takes a certain finesse to run a productive meeting. Without some forethought, meetings can be a waste of time. Take full advantage of the fact that you’ve corralled your team into the same room by running the most efficient meetings ever. How? With Do!

Do allows you to create an agenda and share it with all the meeting participants online. Then, you can take notes via the online platform during the meeting; there’s no need to scribble it out on a piece of paper first and then transfer it to an email. You can also assign tasks within the online meeting space, schedule follow-ups and much more. It’s perfect for meetings that take place in a board room or over the phone alike. Save time by having fewer meetings of a higher quality, and by not having to run around afterward to verify assignments and key notes.

 

OfficeTime

When you run your business online, it makes sense to track time and expenses online too. Put away your sticky notes and close out that overrun Excel sheet, because time tracking just got a whole lot easier!

The timer allows you to designate the task you are working on, and by giving each task an hourly rate, you can easily generate invoices without having to input the data to some other program. You can also supervise your team’s hours and project budgets with OfficeTime. And with nifty features like “You’ve been away from your computer” alerts, you can be confident that the time tracked is accurate.

 

Rescue Time

Are you so befuddled about your low productivity that you aren’t even sure you can name your bad habits? Rescue Time will give you invaluable insight into how you spend your time on your computer. You may be surprised to find out that a “quick glance at Facebook” is really an hour-long diversion. With this tool, you’ll quickly realize where you’ve been going wrong.

But Rescue Time doesn’t stop there. Once the problems have been identified, Rescue Time will help you change your habits. It will block distracting websites or only allow you to spend a certain amount of time on them. It also cheers you on for being productive and accomplishing things throughout the day. Get a productivity score, set daily goals and view your progress in encouraging charts and graphs to keep you on track.

Isn’t it great that we can use technology to help us learn how to better use technology? Sure, there are plenty of distractions or habits that eat into daily productivity, but there are also incredibly useful apps that can streamline your work day. Whether you run your business solo or manage an online team, we hope you’ve found these suggestions helpful!

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