Running a business, no matter how large or small, takes a tremendous amount of savvy organization skills. It takes a New York minute for your operation to go from clean to cluttered. From emails to receipts, project planning to social media, there’s a heck of a lot of things for any business owner to stay on top of. Thankfully, there are scads of smart developers out there creating tools that make everything from to do lists to invoice generation a digital snap.
If you haven’t had time to keep up on the latest and greatest organization tools, read on; we’ve done the homework for you.
1. Teuxdeux – To Do Lists for the Modern Age
No matter how digital our lives become, to do lists still remain integral to our day-to-day activities. Whether you’re an old-fashioned pen and paper person or an online task guru, TeuxDeux makes life volumes easier. TeuxDeux lives in a tab on your computer, housing lists from simple to highly complex. The interface is uber-simple, clean, intuitive, and very useful. The best part; it’s completely free.
2. Shoeboxed – Organize the Little Things
Receipts: They’re tiny, plentiful, and can clutter up a happy desk faster than a turbo train. They seem to be everywhere but where you need them most, come tax time. Shoeboxed aims to remedy this mini-nightmare by digitally housing all your important receipts, bills, and business cards. The how is up to you. Either send all your goodies in a pre-paid envelope and let them do the dirty work, or you can purchase an online desktop uploader. Your easiest option: use their handy dandy mobile apps. With minimum setup and reasonable monthly fees (the apps themselves are free, as is the DIY account), your business or nonprofit will reap the organizational benefits from word one.
3. Trello – Easy Project Management
Trello is a project management tool for businesses or departments that need a simple interface and notification system. It’s ideal for tasks that are too complicated for traditional to-do lists, but not complicated enough to warrant a Basecamp style uber-software solution. Trello is free, and super flexible. Create cards and categories for each of your tasks, and assign them to any user, complete with real-time notifications. Customer support for Trello rocks, and you’ll notice frequent upgrades and improvements too.
4. The Invoice Machine – Get Paid and Stay Organized
If you run a business that invoices clients but doesn’t require hardcore invoicing software (that can costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars), The Invoice Machine is an ideal middle of the road option. Basic features like invoice generation are free, as long as you don’t create more than three in a given month. Inexpensive paid plans are perfect for those who send more frequent invoices, and The Invoice Machine will of course keep track of everything you send, and remind you when invoices are still outstanding. Each invoice looks polished and professional, and this tool truly simplifies the process of getting paid.
5. Sanebox- Make Sense of Your Inbox
One of the most demanding tasks of any business professional is keeping up with the mighty email inbox. It doesn’t take long for to suddenly feel like way too much time is spent parsing through stacks and stacks of unread messages. Enter Sanebox. This nifty tool determines how important each received message is to you, and it filters less critical emails into subsequent folders. Sanebox also summarizes emails and information in your less important folders, and appropriately highlights those it knows you need to read now. You can also set-up reminders to follow-up with individuals as needed, and you can ask that Sanebox put designated emails back into your inbox in any given timeframe. There are several paid plans to choose from, depending on the size of your inbox and your overall needs.
6. Hootsuite – Social Media Magic
Just about every business is getting in on the social action these days, and those that aren’t are delaying the inevitable out of intimidation. Hootsuite aims to assist you in wading through the madness and keeping things organized and simple.
Connect all your social media accounts to Hootsuite (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – note that Google+ doesn’t yet allow connectivity), then send and schedule tweets and status updates to your heart’s content. Hootsuite allows social media professionals to plan out a bundle of blasts in advance, supporting big picture planning and saving you tons of time. It will also let you set-up a column with keyword searches, then display tweets that feature your selections. This allows you to track your business’s social signals, and see all your past, present, and future social updates; all in one handy interface. Basic features are free; utilizing all the bells and whistles will require a paid plan.
7. Yast – A Different Kind of Time Tracking
Sometimes we’re so busy each day, it’s hard to know how much time we spend doing each of our critical tasks. If time management is key to your success, let Yast demystify your world. Yast runs in the background throughout your day’s activities, tracking how much time you spend on specific tasks. Each day, it compiles the info into a timeline, visually showcasing where you spent your time and attention each day, week, month, and year. You’re able to chunk out projects into specific tasks too, and see how they each measure up. There are three different kinds of pricing plans, and the Personal option is completely free. Business plans allow for multiple users and shared projects, and there’s a free trial to truly assess if the tool is right for you.
As business owners, we can never be too organized. Got an organizational tool you can’t live without that didn’t make the list? Leave us a comment and enlighten us!
About the author: Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.