As a small business owner, you're always looking to save a little more time. Productivity is a big deal, and if you want any time away from your desk to be with family, enjoy friends or pursue a hobby, upping your producivity game is a must. And getting productive, starts with getting organized.
After all, being disorganized makes everything harder. It diminishes your focus and zaps your strength. Here are 8 productivity hacks (and 16 organizational tools) that will help you get more done in less time.
Hack 1: Hire a virtual assistant
Many small business owners think they can't afford to hire an assistant. Thankfully, with the rise of virtual assistants anyone now can.
You can find virtual assistants (VA) — self-employed workers who offer services remotely — at any price range and for any skillset. Need someone to create Slideshare presentations? There’s an assistant for that. What about someone to schedule appointments? Yep, they can do that too.
A VA can do just about anything you need, from communicating with your clients to helping you with strategic decisions. Head to sites like Elance, Upwork and Zirtual to find specialized freelancers and virtual assistants who are guaranteed to make your life 100 times more productive. How? You have more time to focus on what's important – growing your business.
Hack 2: Join the cloud
Have you heard of folks whose computers died and lost all their files? Ever needed a file while on the road or in a meeting? With cloud computing, users store their files in the cloud, either public or private, rather than on a backlogged computer or external hard drive. Getting your files in the cloud keeps them safe and accessible, anytime and anywhere. Join the 82 percent of businesses that have a cloud strategy with tools like Dropbox, Picasa and Google Drive all have free versions and will work on your computer and mobile devices.
Hack 3: Stop bookkeeping in actual books
What is the current status of your record keeping? When tax season rolls around are you looking to duck for cover? Can you get insight into your finances anytime and anywhere? How about generate custom financial reports at the drop of a hat?
Software-based bookkeeping tools can work wonders to get your books organized and keep them that way. Our favorites? Mint offers budgeting software that allows you to see the big picture with your budgets, bills and cash flow statements all in one place. FreshBooks offers cloud-based invoicing, accounting and billing software.
Hack 4: Use social media software
Does keeping up with social media feel like a time suck? Stop manually updating your social media feeds. Free up your time by using software that can automate much of your social media presence.
Hootsuite and Sprout Social automatically send out social media updates in advance — saving you valuable time throughout the week or month. With these tools you can stagger your updates and publish across multiple profiles. Your social media works for you while you focus on other things.
Hack 5: Say goodbye to paper
Paper had a good run, and it will stay with us for decades to come. But technology has given us better alternatives.
Nix your overflowing filing cabinets and scan your documents in one fell swoop. Genius Scan enables you to scan your documents from your phone and then export them as JPEGs or PDF files.
There are great document management systems out there that can help you digitally archive and manage everything from your receipts to your business cards. Import and organize important documents, and then shred the originals. The best part is once they are all filed electronically, you can quickly and easily search for a specific document, saving you time (and a lot of frustration).
Hack 6: Clear your cluttered desktop
Doesn’t it feel great to look at your computer desktop and see everything organized, neat and ready to go? If you can’t remember the last time that you felt that way, then organize your computer desktop.
One’s working environment has been shown to directly impact productivity. Researchers from Princeton University Neuroscience Institute found that chaos can infringe upon the ability to focus on a job at hand.
A streamlined and clean computer screen can help you feel motivated and creative. Take a few moments every few days to delete unneeded files, and put new ones into relevant folders.
Hack 7: Get an appointment book
Sometimes the oldies really are goodies. Keep an appointment book and start scheduling. Use an app like Cozi to manage your time and keep track of key events and appointments. You can also use a virtual assistant to help you get the most out of your appointment book and scheduler.
Hack 8: Improve your contact management
Managing those customers, leads, payments and other key information is an ongoing challenge. If you are disorganized, you have an uphill battle to fight. Tens of thousands of businesses use Infusionsoft to get organized and stay that way. Prioritize your small business and its organization; we promise your life is about to get a lot more productive.