12 apps that will make you insanely productive

Take charge of your inbox, stay organized, and know where your time goes.

by Susan Payton

So much to do, so little time! Running a business is a ton of work, even for the most organized individual. Fortunately, technology makes it a little easier to be productive. Using just a portion of the plethora of apps and software tools geared toward entrepreneurs, you can do the next best thing to cloning yourself. Here’s a sampling of some of the productivity tools that can help you run your business without running yourself ragged.

Spend less time managing your email

Remember life before email? Me neither. What started out as a technological marvel has quickly become the bane of our existence, with inboxes that overflow with unwanted or overlooked communications. Take back your inbox with these apps.

IQTell: If you’re like me, you leave emails in your inbox as reminders to do something. But that’s what IQTell eliminates. It turns your emails into action items and reminders so you can clear your queue of old emails, moving toward the elusive Inbox Zero.

Rapportive: Connecting with new contacts on social media is always a good idea, but who’s got time to do it? With the LinkedIn™ Rapportive email plugin for Gmail, you can view a contact’s social media details and work information on the sidebar of an email. Connecting is just a click away from your inbox.

Spark: You want to read newsletters and RSS emails, just not right now. Spark organizes your email based on what it is so you can streamline the time you spend reviewing emails.

Track where you’re spending your time

Ever wonder where your day went? There’s an app for that. Whether you’re billing clients for time spent on their projects or trying to organize your day to be more productive, these apps can help.

FreshBooks: Yes, this is accounting software, but FreshBooks has a neat time tracker feature that lets you assign time spent working for a given client or on a project. Then when you’re ready to invoice, you can easily add accrued time to that invoice, along with your hourly rate. It works for both solopreneurs and teams.

Toggl: If you manage a team, knowing where they’re spending time is essential. Toggl lets you track time on projects or clients, and is great for project managing a team.

RescueTime: If your Facebook® habit is getting in the way of you actually working, you’ll love RescueTime. It tracks the time you spend on various activities or websites, and provides a report that can help you see what activities are eating up the bulk of your time so that you can get back on track.

Stay organized (without a personal assistant)

If only you had someone to tell you that your flight had been delayed, remind you of appointments, or help you prioritize your tasks, you could totally stay organized. Actually, you don’t need a human to do that; your mobile device will serve just fine with these apps.

Google Now: If you use an Android mobile device, Google Now comes standard. This useful app intuitively pays attention to your habits and emails to let you know how traffic looks for your commute, inform you that your package will arrive today, or remind you about the meeting happening in 10 minutes.

Any.do: Keep track of tasks for yourself and assign them to team members with Any.do. You can see what needs doing today, tomorrow, or down the road, and you can collaborate with team members.

Zapier: There are a million little tasks you take care of online that could be automated. Zapier does just that. If, for example, you want to add a new customer from your e-commerce platform to your MailChimp email list, Zapier will do that for you. You can also customize other automated tasks from the list of integrated services.

Create and collaborate easier

Whether you’re a one-person show or have a team to manage, these apps make it simpler and more fun.

Google Drive: This is by far my favorite tool. Create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online and access them from any device with Google Drive. If you’re already using Google, it’s incredibly intuitive to use.

Basecamp: One of the most popular project management tools, Basecamp lets you collaborate with team members on projects, assign tasks and due dates, and see progress in calendar form.

Slack: Rather than clutter your inbox with so many emails, try Slack, the innovative communication platform. You can create private communication channels and loop in relevant team members, share files, and organize communications for future reference.

There are dozens more productivity apps out there, with more coming on board every day. Find the ones that help you shine, and you’ll feel like you’ve got an army helping you work!