When you’re a business owner it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things you need to be on top of. To make sure you can give due attention to everything, it pays to be smart about how you manage your time. We’ve picked five tools that you may find useful to help keep you on track and on time so that you can focus on creating more opportunities for growth.
1. Do the to-do list
It may feel like your to-do list is as long as your arm. You have to stay on top of client files while managing a team of brokers, and make sure nothing slips between the cracks. That’s where Clear comes to the rescue. Think of it as your own personal organiser – keeping track of all your tasks for the day, week or month. You can even arrange them in categories of your choosing – so, for example, you can colour code them for different service lines or separate management tasks from client work. You can also receive reminders when something is due, making it easier to keep track of settlements and other important dates. What makes it a real gem though is its intuitive interface, so you don’t need to waste time learning how to use it, and it syncs on all your Apple devices.
For Android users, there is a currently free app called Koalcat’s Clear that shares many of the same features as Clear.
While the internet is a great work tool, it can also be the easiest way to lose time throughout your day. RescueTime analyses how you spend your time in front of the computer, providing you with regular reports so you can pinpoint your most productive (and unproductive) sites and programs. It then helps you reclaim your time by allowing you to block websites that may be distracting you. You can also set productivity goals and it will let you know when you’ve achieved them. The light version of the app is currently free, or you can pay US$9 a month for all the bells and whistles.
3. Reclaim control of your inbox
Think about how much time you spend each day scanning your inbox trying to find a certain email or speed-reading your messages. Now imagine if there was a quicker way to do that. Spark has been designed to help you take control of your inbox. It has many of the same features as the now-defunct Mailbox app, but it is more customisable. For example, it allows you to reconfigure what each swipe means and to add folders and your calendar to the side bar. It also has a feature that allows you to pin a message or messages to the top of your inbox. Plus, it’s currently free.
Android users could try the (also currently free) Outlook app.
4. Embrace the Cloud
It’s easy to spend a lot of time trying to find or send documents, but you can save precious time (and energy) by moving everything online. Dropbox is the most popular app for sharing and storing files. With everything in one place, you can easily organise your documents, make them accessible to other people and always have access to them when you need them. Imagine if, rather than attaching all the necessary forms, documents and checklists in an email to your clients, you could just send them one link that they can access and from which they can download everything they need. You can even give your entire team access to some folders, so they can share marketing collateral or pitch presentations without having to wait for them to download over Wi-Fi, saving them time, too. The app is free up to 2GB, or there are different payment options available for a larger account.
5. And for everything else
Evernote is one of the most versatile apps. It can be used to save handy websites, articles or documents, your shopping list, and even brainstorming session notes. You could keep all the training documents you have on different product lines here, along with any notes you’ve made on them. But where it can actually help you manage your time is with its search capability and flexibility. You can store everything from links to loan documentation to inspection photos and even notes from client meetings in one place, so you don’t need to rummage through piles of paper to find them. You can also share any part of a file with others, so if someone back in the office needs to access your notes while you’re out on the road, one click of a button and it’s done. Evernote is a free app available on mobile and desktop.
Finding extra time in your day may feel like an impossible task, but with these handy tools you’ll be well on your way to improved time management so that you can focus on growing your business.
If you’re using any tools that you have found helpful in managing your time, tell us about your experience below.
Legal note: Using some of the services mentioned in this article may involve customer data being stored offshore. In such a circumstance there may be additional obligations that you will need to comply with under Australian Privacy Laws.