8 Tips for Mastering Productivity & Professionalism On-the-Go
Running a small business requires, well, a lot of running! Every day you find yourself hopping between meetings, traveling to and from conferences and networking events, and speed-typing emails en-route to your car. All-too-often it seems like there’s hardly any time for a breather. In all of this chaos, it can be tough to feel productive.
Luckily, technology is making the daily hustle more efficient. Here are 7 tech-savvy tools and tricks to help you save time while working on-the-go:
1. Never Lose Another Business Card
A great deal of business success is born from relationship-building. While it can be wonderful to meet people, you’ve always dreaded the effort it takes to keep track of their contact info. Luckily, you don’t have to anymore! Gone are the days of searching frantically through piles of business cards every time you need to follow up with a new connection. And never again will you have to dedicate time to manually entering email addresses and phone numbers into databases.
Smartphones make it easier than ever to manage your contacts. Using optical character recognition (OCR), business card scanning apps can snap a photo of a card and then translate the contents to editable text. Using tools like the ABBY Business Card Reader, you can store contact info in the app’s own database or your smartphone’s contacts listing, export contact info in .csv lists or even send contact info directly to CRM systems. And if you’re a fan of Evernote, you’re in luck! The wonderfully versatile note-taking app has finally released a feature that allows scanned business cards to be uploaded to Salesforce.
With a smart scanner in your pocket, you’ll never lose track of another business opportunity again!
2. Get Smart About Your Phone System
If you’re like most entrepreneurs these days, your business operations aren’t restricted to the walls of an office. And why should they be? It can be frustrating to find that many business tools are still designed for the traditional 9-5 brick-and-mortar work environment. Take phone systems for instance. Why buy into fixed landlines and unnecessary hardware when you and your staff are armed with cell phones and always on-the-go? It can be a total time suck to retrieve messages from these systems. Calling into a designated voicemail line and skipping through messages in order to find what you’re looking for just isn’t practical. Neither is the inability for you to make outgoing calls using your office number while you’re on the road.
The smart solution for busy business leaders these days are cloud-based phone systems like the CloudNumber virtual phone service from FreedomVoice. This service offers great features that are designed to keep you moving and appear more professional, such as an automated attendant that answers all of your calls with a custom greeting and routes callers to you or the right person on your team. Using a simple app for iOS and Android phones, FreedomVoice cloud services ensure that you stay two-way connected by not only forwarding business calls to your mobile phone but allowing you to call out from anywhere using your business number as your call ID. Last but not least, this virtual phone system offers visual voicemail and a fax-from-anywhere feature.
When your office is the outside world, finding a professional phone system made for the mobile lifestyle can provide a big boost in productivity.
3. Schedule Social Media Content Ahead of Time
If you’ve been working to build an online presence for your business, you’ve probably come to realize that jumping in and out of social media sites all day eats up a lot of time. Not only is it a headache to hunt for interesting content, but every time you go to make a post, you inevitably end up getting distracted from taking care of more important tasks.
You can avoid these problems by using a social media scheduling application like Hootsuite, which boasts both an online and mobile interface for helping you plan out your posts in advance and/or on-the-go. What’s special about Hootsuite is that it not only automates the process of posting, but also acts as a helpful tool for sourcing content and monitoring audience interactions with your brand across all social channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). Simply create live feed displays (known as “streams”) for any channel using keywords and other search parameters to curate information.
Pro tip: Download the Hootsuite add-on for your internet browser and turn any article you stumble upon into a post for your social platforms at the click of a button.
To use social media automation most efficiently, block out time at the beginning or end of each day/week to schedule posts in bulk. This will help you avoid interruptions to your work throughout the day. It’s good practice to block out time in the mornings to plan out posts and then take 15-20 minutes at the end of each day to see what your followers are up to and respond to any comments and messages.
4. Stay In the Know While On-The-Go
It’s never fun to feel like you’re out of the loop, particularly from a professional standpoint, since keeping on top of industry news and trends can be vital for success in business. You might say that finding time for daily reading is a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be; especially if you can eliminate the time you’d spend searching each of your favorite sites for newsworthy material. That’s what apps like Flipboard and Feedly are for. Just set your topic preferences and subscribe to your favorite blogs and let these content aggregators assemble all the things you’d like to read in one place. Then, when you have a few minutes to spare between meetings, simply pull out your phone and flip through this curated content to stay in the know.
Pro Tip: Use Pocket to tag and save your favorite articles from Flipboard or Feedly for later reading or to create a list of content to use later when scheduling social media posts!
5. Store Documents in the Cloud
In addition to cloud-based phone systems, cloud-based document storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft SkyDrive have radically changed the way we are able to do business today. This is because storing documents in the cloud allows busy professionals to easily collaborate on projects with their teams and access files across all of their devices whenever they are on the move. And best of all, most of these services are free to start (for 5-15 GB of space), making them perfect for small business owners who don’t have enterprise-size storage needs.
If you’re not already taking advantage of these tools, you’re probably wasting time manually transferring files between computers, phones, and tablets or emailing individual documents to your colleagues. You’re also putting your business documents at risk of being lost forever by keeping them stored on hard drives that are susceptible to damage. Consider making the jump to an online file system. You won’t be sorry (especially when working remotely suddenly becomes simple).
Pro tip: Dropbox allows you to download offline copies of documents to any device for instances when wifi is not available. Before your next business trip, consider saving a few key documents to stay productive in flight.
6. Try Digital Task Lists
It’s easy to get lost in lengthy task lists, especially when you’re always hustling from one place to the next, trying to get your business off the ground. In these situations, it’s essential to have a good organizational system in place for making sure things get done. The best systems are those that can easily travel along with you and keep you and your team on the same page, even when you’re in different places.
The problem is, there are a whole slew of task list tools that claim to improve your productivity game, but you’re not sure which ones are the most effective. To point you in the right direction, we’ve selected a few of our favorites.
Digital Task Lists:
The first step to staying organized is keeping a task list. If you know you’re the type of person to be on-the-go, cut the paper trail and do yourself a favor by downloading a to-do list app for your mobile device. These apps allow you to work collaboratively by sharing tasks with colleagues and stay on schedule by setting reminders for when tasks are due.
This sleek and handy app is available for free on the Web as well as all platforms and devices. Its best features include the ability to group related lists into folders (i.e. Work, Personal, etc.), add notes or enable comments from collaborators on any task, and turn emails into actions by simply forwarding them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Google Keep
Like Wunderlist, Keep is available for free on any phone, tablet, or computer. Keep lets you create lists or add text, audio and photos to digital sticky notes, which you can group by color and filter according to different attributes. In the same fashion as Google docs, collaborators can work together on notes in real-time from different devices. One fun feature of Keep is that you can set location-based or time-based reminders. For instance, a note with talking points can be set to pop up at 2pm, or when you arrive at the spot for your next meeting. However, reminders can only be set for each note, which means that if multiple tasks are on one note, there is no easy way to create separate reminders for separate tasks like there is with Wunderlist.
7. Use Mobile Project Management Tools
For complex projects, where simple to-do lists just don’t cut it, these apps (available both on the Web and mobile devices) put communications, task management, project tools and more all under one roof. They’re perfect for virtual teams, where members may be working from different time zones or locations and need to collaborate effectively (and efficiently!) on larger tasks. Try them out and see how they help everyone in your business save time while staying on the move.
Asana is a powerful tool that integrates with hundreds of other apps (including Google Drive and Slack) to make tracking projects easier than ever before. It’s free for up to 15 users and includes unlimited projects, making it ideal for any small business. Asana looks and acts like an email inbox but groups information under teams, projects, tasks and sub-tasks with the ability to add due dates and stars for important items. Within projects, individual tasks can be assigned to certain members of your team and team members can carry out focused conversations by commenting on or adding file attachments to any task. But our favorite thing about Asana is how it creates prioritized to-do lists ordered by things like due date or level of importance. You can even choose to have these lists sent every morning to your email, so you can plan your day like a pro!
Just like Asana, Basecamp allows users to track projects and tasks via to-do lists, host written discussions, and embed media files (images, videos). But Basecamp isn’t free. It requires a minimum $20/month subscription which covers 10 projects and 3 GB of file storage for unlimited users. Where Basecamp stands out however is with its simple interface, which makes it easier to get started with. It also has the added perks of automatic backups to Google Drive or Dropbox.
8. Stop Worrying About What to Wear
Hate wasting time each morning trying to figure out an outfit for the office? Rushing to pack professional clothes for your next business trip? Ever wish you had a magic fashion genie that could solve your wardrobe woes? Well, a genie might be out of the picture, but subscription clothing boxes are a great solution for the busy entrepreneur who needs to get dressed in a pinch. And the best part is, you won’t have to spend any more frustrated days at the mall shuffling from one changing room to the next.
You can either choose to build your outfit collection with a service like Stitch Fix that provides 5 personalized pieces for you to keep each month, or opt for a rotating closet with a clothing rental subscription box, like the one offered by The Ms. Collection for ladies and The Mr. Collection for men. Personalized stylists (or maybe just fashionable bots?) create custom clothing collections designed to suit your individual style and body type.
Interested in trying a free month of Freedomvoice? Go to https://www.freedomvoice.com/cloudnumber to select your custom number and start experiencing the benefits of a professional business line while you’re on-the-go