Only 52 percent of companies spend their time in a way that aligns with their strategic goals, according to a McKinsey survey of 1,500 executives from businesses of all sizes around the world. Some executives lost time by wasting too many hours online. Others got distracted by meetings, motivating their staff, or handling chronic emergencies. Small business owners surveyed by eVoice similarly reported being habitually distracted from their primary function by tasks such as accounting, receptionist work and office management, marketing, and sales. 38 percent of the entrepreneurs surveyed by eVoice said that time was their most valuable business asset, and one in four said they would pay over $500 if they could get one more hour out of the work day. For business owners facing a time crunch, the good news is that you can gain extra hours of productivity by using technology to save time managing many common chores.
The most essential time management technology for increasing your productivity is calendar scheduling software. The Android and iOS mobile operating systems support native calendar apps which can be supplemented and integrated with other services such as Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange Server. Getting Google and Microsoft tools to play nice with each other can sometimes be challenging. Wall Street Journal personal tech columnist Joanna Stern provides helpful strategies and tips for solving interface problems in order to get the most out of today’s calendar software, using supporting tools such as Magneto, Sunrise, Fantastical, Tempo, and Mynd. Different apps and features enable you to combine your calendar with other tools and information such as to-do lists, contact information, and estimated travel times.
Communication in various forms is the biggest time waster at work, a Robert Half survey released in February 2014 found. After non-work related forms of communication such as Internet browsing, social media conversations, employee chatting, and personal calls and emails, the biggest work-related time drains were meetings and managing email.
To save time planning and running meetings, MeetingApps provides an online portal to using meeting apps for BlackBerry, Android, and Apple devices.(5) Apps such as GoToMeeting assist with tasks such as sending automated invitations, which can save time reminding attendees, and hosting virtual conferences, which can save travel time. To conserve time managing email, Christina DesMarais of Techlicious reviews apps such as AquaMail, Taskbox, and Mailbox that can help you automatically sort and prioritize incoming email and even send automated responses to let senders know you’re busy or away and will return their email later.
Project management apps can work in conjunction with calendar and communications tools to streamline tasks and save time. This category of apps makes it easier to schedule projects, assign tasks, communicate instructions, and track progress. A survey of Lifehacker readers found that today’s most popular project management apps are led by Evernote, Trello, and Asana.
Document Creation and Storage
One major project management task facing teams is document creation and sharing, which can be assisted by a variety of apps. For those who prefer talking to typing, tech writer Cynthia Boris identifies a number of voice to text applications which can help you turn spoken words into documents, such as Dragon Dictation. For those who find it easier to think in pictures, mind mapping apps such as XMind can help you and your team visualize ideas.
After creating your documents, you’ll also need somewhere to store them so you can retrieve them and share them with your team. For enterprise-quality document management, MozyEnterprise integrates cloud-based file backup and syncing to provide you and your employees mobile access to documents from any device or location.
Adobe research shows that more retail shoppers are using smartphone and tablet apps that make it more convenient for them to take advantage of sales, view products, locate stores and make purchases. Enabling your sales team to meet this customer demand can simplify your selling process and save time. For instance, the SAP Retail Store Ops Associate mobile app provides sales associates with real-time information to offer quick answers to customer questions about inventory, products, and prices.
Bookkeeping is one of the most essential tasks for running any business, but also one of the most time-consuming and least favorite duties. Accounting apps can help simplify such processes as entering transaction information and tracking revenue and expenses. Capterra writer Michael Ortner provides an overview of QuickBooks and other popular accounting software solutions that can save you time keeping your books.