We had a serious conversation in the Tech Collective virtual office at the start of the year – everyone had to produce more content and results for the publication, while at the same time reducing or at worst spending the same amount of time. This isn’t a case of insane boss requirements, but a focus on making our lives more productive and a combined team effort towards success. We’ve covered automating your startup before, but our focus is on productivity tools.

The team decided to take it upon themselves to start using and tracking the usage of new services and apps that will help our productivity. We would use the service, track the success and then share our personal experiences – not through reviews (been done to death) – but in a practical list or compilation that gives our readers a short and easy way to understand the value of the product.

Most of the services are mobile-based, but we put together a short list of productivity tools that we find work and make our lives easier.

Managing tasks

We’ve used post-its to Google calendar events to manage our activities, but as busy entrepreneurs with multiple roles, it isn’t the most elegant solution. Things were missed and we faced issues with being able to assign tasks easily, as we run multiple projects at the same time.

Image result for asana
The Asana platform. Image courtesy of Asana

That’s why we turned to Asana – a simple and quite powerful tool that you can use for free (yay), but also has a paid version, which we find very useful.

It is a simple-to-use piece of software that allows you to create teams, projects and fine-tune access as not to crowd everyone’s inbox with notifications. Here are some of the highlights that we like:

  • Asana’s boards let you easily visualise your work – so its easier to manage timelines and move tasks around.
  • You can integrate a lot of services together. Bring emails, files, tickets, and more into Asana, for a single access point to all your services.
  • Sharing is easier, as you can share results with your team and see how work is progressing to see what’s on track and what needs attention. Be warned that oversharing is the biggest pain for teams as they get constant notifications.
  • Create easy templates for your team to replicate for common tasks.

An alternative to Asana, which you can consider would be Monday.

Upgrade your calendars

Calendars are our life – if it’s not in the calendar, we will not be there or do what you need us to do. We use Google calendars, but Outlook or whichever one you choose works fine most of the time. What we’ve started to use more is Calendly, a simple and effective way to automate a lot of your calendar requirements.

Image result for calendly
Image courtesy Calendly

It syncs to whatever calendar you use and allows you to create a custom URL you can share with others. The URL gives them access to your schedule that you create on the service and then updates your calendar as they select the times and dates for appointments and meetings.

There is a free version for you to try out, which is quite useful for us. The paid version does offer significant upgrades and maybe be useful to check out.

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Keeping notes

There are thousands of note keeping apps that are easy to use, but we got to pick one. An old favourite is Evernote, which is useful to quickly save and tag this information so that I can return to it later.

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Image courtesy Evernote.

The free version is extremely powerful and we’ve been using it for years. Other options include Microsoft’s One Note and Google Keep.

Cloud Storage

This is where the team had the biggest argument and the least consensus. We use Google Drive at Tech Collective, but some members swear by DropBox. They both have similar functions, so the reasoning behind the difference is most likely subjective likes and dislikes.

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Image courtesy of GSuites

The free versions for both provide significant storage capacity and the integration with Gmail and Google Drive makes the most sense to the Tech Collective team. With easy syncing, we’re able to transfer documents from our phones to the drive within seconds and even scan documents using our mobile phone feature. This allows us to create PDF versions of receipts and other documents we may need. They are then uploaded to Google Drive and accessible to the team.

Why choose Google Drive? Well here are a few reasons:

  • Large storage space for free and affordable upgrades
  • Great integration with mobile and other services such as Signrequest and Google Documents, Sheets and so on
  • Good internal search engine – well it is Google
  • Decent image recognition for image search and easy folder creation

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Well there you have it, the four productivity services we use around the office, which we believe every entrepreneur needs for your their company. If you think we’ve left anything out or have any recommendations, drop us a comment and we’ll be in touch.

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