As a successful entrepreneur, sometimes it’s too easy to get tied up on your computer doing stupid, mundane tasks that could be handled better (sometimes a lot better!). I love shortcuts and ultra useful resources. That’s why, I’m going to share my favorite 9 productivity tools with you that I guarantee will add several extra hours to your life each week and help you feel more in control…
#1: Mailwasher – It’s no secret email and spam is out of control. This is one of my favorite tools because I can peek at the email headers and check what I want to keep and what I want to delete before I download it and hits my computer. You can also select to ‘bounce’ spam so that spammers think they got a non-working email. It lets you check pretty much any type of email account you have (POP3, AOL, Hotmail, etc). I love it! It’s one of my favorite tools and it’s one of the easiest pieces of software. It takes about 3 minutes to go through hundreds of emails and check which ones I want and which ones I want to delete. Also, if I just want to pick out one or two emails to respond to real fast – I can just do a ‘quick reply’ straight from mail washer which launches my default email client. (Note: this does not replace your email client.)
Here’s a screenshot of it on my computer (click to enlarge):
#2: Roboform – I just started using this about 6 months ago and have no idea why it took so long. It’s frickin awesome! You never realize how much time you waste filling out forms, looking for credit cards, passwords, etc. Roboform stores all of this for you like a secure little passport that travels with you on the Web. Plus, you can stop using the exact same password like your doggie’s name because Roboform will create super strength passwords like “Xjx81x87Hq” and then store them for you. It keeps multiple identities separate so for my multiple companies it takes one click to decide which credit card to use, address to ship to, etc. Sweet.
#3: Box.net – It seems like files are getting bigger and bigger and email seems to be unreliable for bigger files. I always get concerned when I send anything over about 2mb to a contact. With Box.net you can upload your bigger files to share or store. Plus, there is an option to share/collaborate with your team. I got the premium version (I think you get 15mb of storage for free).
#4: Jing/Camtasia – Beyond all the uses of Camtasia as one of my favorite (and super quick) product development ways or promotional videos – there are tons of productivity uses. First off, Camtasia/Jing are both ‘Macro’ recorders so whatever is on my screen gets recorded and I can also record my voice and create mark-ups on the screen, etc. It’s super powerful. Camtasia is the full version from TechSmith and is obviously more feature rich – but I’ve been impressed with the Jing project as a real simple tool for training or getting your point across. Many times if I’m working with a web designer – I can load up Jing and in 5 minutes explain exactly what I want changed without the meaning getting lost in a written email. When training your team on any computer-related tasks you can record what you do in Camtasia and then there is no miscommunication. Or better still, if someone new comes on board they are trained the exact same way. Here’s a sample so you can see how powerful this software is.
#5: Simulscribe – I first found out about this from one of my MasterMind members and it’s made my life a lot easier. Simulscribe will transcribe your voicemails for you and either email or text them to you. I use it for our company’s voicemail and then that transcription gets sent to our help desk so our customer support team can respond faster. Good stuff.
#6: NoteTab Light – this one might not be for everyone and I pretty much only use one tiny feature but it’s well worth it (especially since it’s free!). I compose a lot of emails to my subscribers and since I communicate via text I want to create hard returns on the emails so the formatting doesn’t get all screwy when the email goes out. NoteTab Light will let you set up how many character spaces you want all your text and then you hit “Ctrl” + “J” to make it all line-up. Plus, there are a few other shortcuts in there. I think this is an HTML editor tool but like I said I only use one tiny function.
7. Mind Jet – My absolute favorite way of getting things done is Mindmapping. I’ve used the MindJet software for quite some time to be able to get my ideas out in one spot quickly, easily and in a more organized fashion.
Here’s a quick example:
You want to start with a central theme or idea in the middle of your page. (I’ve put my example in a piece of software I use – but many times my mind maps are drawn by hand and with just pen & paper.) Then you want to create branches radiated out from the center which encompass different points related to your main topic. Then under the main points radiating out you can even further sub-branches, etc.
I love mind mapping for all kinds of uses because it really fits the way we think on a subject. You’ve most likely been taught to make a linear outline when taking notes or trying to organize your ideas. It can be really frustrating because our brains don’t always output information in a perfectly ordered and structured way. Many times one thing will trigger an idea for something else and then something else again. That’s why Mind Maps are the perfect way to dump everything out of your head and put onto paper or a the computer screen.
Two other pieces of software you might try. The first is from the “father of Mindmapping” Tony Buzan, himself. It’s called I Mind Map. Has some good features and I like the organic looks of the mindmaps plus it defaults to different colors per branch. Imind-map.com. Another one is mindmeister.com – I have not played with this that much but it seems very cool because you can collaborate online with others on a single mindmap.
#8: Mozy – I don’t know if this quite fits productivity but it does become one if the inevitable happens. Just recently I spilled half a bottle of water on my laptop. That’s when I yelled something that in a cartoon would look like this – “@#!%@!”
I quickly removed the battery but it was too late. I thought I had fried my computer. The good thing is I had this little piece of software installed that automatically backed up all the important stuff without me thinking about it and put in a remote location. I logged into my Mozy account from Missy’s computer and got a set of DVDs overnighted that had all my data on them. Boom! Back in business. Luckily, my computer did eventually dry out after my buddy dissembled the whole thing –but having Mozy really would have been a life saver. We all have good intentions of backing up our stuff – but unless you’re pretty disciplined it won’t happen.
#9: Log me in – this is another cool resource I found about from one of MasterMind members. As long as you have an active online connection on your home computer you can access it from anywhere. It’s pretty slick. It’s just like sitting at your own desk and you can see your desktop like normal. You can access files, updates files (and they are updated on your home computer), remote print, etc. There’s a free version and a paid version with more features. Cool software and works really well.
There you go – give a few of these a try and reclaim some of your time. And even better, let’s make this even more useful – I’d like to hear from you. What tools/resources do you use that make your life more productive as an entrepreneur? Leave a comment. Plus, if you found this helpful – give it a DIGG (by clicking below) so even more entrpreneurs can benefit from this list.