Productivity Tools for Entrepreneurs
Last week on the blog, Lianne (founder of Mamas & Co. and Think Big Sales Consulting) shared 5 time management strategies for the busy entrepreneur. Her last tip, “write it down” seems simple enough. But the how and where has so many different answers! We took it to our members-only forum, asking the question “what are your favourite productivity tools?”. And as always, our members were full of amazing tips!
Here are the tools with the most use amongst our members.
iCal or Google Calendar
This is a simple solution that works for many to keep track of tasks and appointments. What many people like about these calendars is that they’re accessible from any device, and you can sync calendars with partners and colleagues to help coordinate schedules with work and home. One appealing feature is that shared calendars can be turned on or off depending on what you want to focus on. Combined with Google Drive and Dropbox, this method can be used to collaborate and share files without having to learn different apps.
Trello claims to let you “work more collaboratively and get more done.” And based on how many of our mamapreneurs are using it, it doesn’t disappoint! It can be used to easily track client projects both in the queue and progress of tasks underway, complete with due dates, colour coded labels, and checklists. It can also be used to track time, which is handy for those who bill by the hour. If you are currently a fan of sticky notes or are a visual learner, Trello might be for you.
Asana comes up as the most popular “must try” productivity tool for our members, based on so many recommendations within our group and by others (like Amy Porterfield). Like Trello, it can be used to track project progress, assign tasks and due dates, and collaborate with others (though the collaboration feature may be more difficult than Trello if you want outside team members to have access to a project). One of our members uses it to keep track of her editorial calendar. It is good for those who like to work with lists, and perhaps with fewer external collaborations.
(Google “Trello vs Asana” and you can find lots of articles about the nuances of each to help you find the right tool for your needs.)
One of our own members, Shelagh Cummins, developed the Productive! Planner to help entrepreneurs stay focused on tasks that will help them achieve their goals. I have personally been using it for a month now and love it. It combines high-level goal setting with daily task tracking and reminders to plan for social events and personal growth to help drive success. Several other Mamas & Co. members use it to stay accountable to their goals - some use it for day-to-day planning while others use it to check in at a higher level.
The Bullet Journal approach to task management hit our group by storm at the end of 2016. People really resonated with its flexibility - it can be used in any journal once you get the hang of it. It is ideal for those who like to write things down by hand, like lists, and adding some creative flair to their to-do lists. Word of caution though, if you like the looks of it, try to stay off Bullet Journal Pinterest boards because it can make the process look daunting (especially if you’re like me and aren’t really artsy).
This is not a tool, but rather an approach to staying focused on tasks. It came up from a couple of people in the Forum and I had never heard of it so I was intrigued. Essentially, you set a timer for 25 minute intervals and focus on one task for up to 4 of these intervals, with short (3-5 minute) breaks in between. Then longer breaks (15 - 30 minutes) are to be taken between tasks. An interesting approach that could help me get more done around the house (like quick laundry or clean up breaks) while working. You can read more about the approach here.
This is a short list of tools available to help entrepreneurs stay focused and on-point - but they all come tested and recommended by a number of our members. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for solutions that are tried and tested. And once you start Googling, you’ll no doubt find a number of other options related to these! It can be a rabbit hole, but at the end, when you’ve found a tool that works for you, you might just find yourself working smarter, not harder.
Tell us in the comments below - what are your favourite productivity tools?
Emma Rohmann is a co-leader of Mamas & Co. and founder of Green at Home. With 10 years’ experience in the corporate world and as a project manager, she is an Excel enthusiast but is fascinated at all the other options out there and looks forward to testing them out.