Guest post by April Merritt

Solopreneurs wear many hats today – marketer, networker, chief finance officer, developer, director, and more. We have to learn the technology necessary to do our jobs, and sort through five million apps to find the best one for our business. It’s stressful to even try to keep up.

So, what’s the absolute minimum software that you need to keep yourself focused and your business thriving? Productivity apps for content management, task management, and email management are where to start.

Content management app:

Where do you put your ideas for next month’s blog? If you find a great statistic online, where do you store it until you’re ready to use it? Do you brainstorm or mind map the direction of your business? The items we used to put on a bulletin board are now digital, but they still need a place to live until you’re ready to use them. This is where content management apps come into play.

How it helps me:

My favorite content management app is Evernote. I use it for everything I want to keep for reference (e.g. I can upload a picture of my handwritten notes or an image I take with my cell phone). The Chrome Evernote web clipper extension allows you to ‘clip’ an article, image, or thought I find online and tuck it away in Evernote to use later. This is a goldmine when it comes to social media ideas.

Evernote gives me a place to brain dump, getting all the circling thoughts out of my head so there is room for new ideas.  Because I have it on my phone, tablet, and computer, I can access it no matter where I am, and in whatever downtime I have.

Task management app:

Now that we’ve gotten all your thoughts down, we need to make sure you don’t forget to follow up and follow through (Tame Your To-Do List). There are to-do or task management apps for every way of learning or looking at the world. I use Evernote for my task management, but another great option is Trello for visual people and Todoist which is more of a traditional, linear list.

How it helps me:

I use Evernote to track not only my weekly tasks and projects, but as a way to remember those ‘someday’ tasks. Someday I’ll pay off my student loans and someday I’ll get an assistant. Using a task management app means that instead of trying to remember those someday plans and random ideas, I can jot them down someplace safe and clear my mind for more immediate concerns.

Web based email app:

Gmail, Outlook.com, or iCloud are your best choices. I consider a web based email account essential to increasing your productivity. With my Google Apps account I have one contacts list and one calendar that I can access wherever. It doesn’t matter if I’m on my phone, on the web, or using Outlook desktop – a change I make on one device automatically syncs to the cloud. There aren’t duplicates on different devices, or contacts that are only on my phone.

How it helps me:

By using a cloud based app which syncs across devices, my information is always available. I don’t have to remember where a specific contact lives, or if I transferred a new contact from my phone to my email system. In addition, if my phone was lost or destroyed, with a web based account I could be up and running with contacts, calendar, and apps within five minutes of getting a new phone.

Even though a considerable 77% of surveyed Americans like having access to so much information thanks to the Internet, that doesn’t mean we are able to manage it effectively. Productivity apps focused on content management and task management allow us to clear space for urgent matters, while still holding on to that ‘someday’ information. Information synced to the cloud keeps us productive by reducing search time and downtime, leaving more time for revenue producing activities.

There is new technology every day, and always an app your friend says you ‘have to have’. Don’t worry about trying every new thing. Find what works for you and your business and stick with it. Once you have the basics in place, then start thinking about the rest.

Need help getting started with Evernote or another productivity app? Just let me know!

 

productivityHaving the right tech – and knowing how to use it – can make the difference between getting by and getting ahead. April Merritt, owner of Ilios Digital Organizing, uses her education in Information Science and her passion for problem solving to help entrepreneurs increase their revenue by using technology in order to be more productive in less time. Her focus is the right tech for the right task, finding what works for you so you can save time, make money, and grow your business.