Productivity

Nine top productivity tools for entrepreneurs

John Nelder /

Want to achieve “inbox zero” or simply get more done each day?
Improving your productivity could be as simple as getting the right tools in place. Whether it’s an app to declutter your life or a notebook you can microwave clean, the modern world is filled with tools to get you working smarter.
Here are nine top picks from among the very best to boost your productivity in 2018.

Evernote

Gone are the days when getting organised meant row upon row of filing cabinets. Now thanks to apps like Evernote, you can lead a totally paperless life.

Evernote is a digital filing cabinet where you can store all your documents on a cloud account instead of in the physical world. So whatever’s cluttering your desk – be it receipts, invoices or newspaper clippings – you can scan them into Evernote and discard of the originals.

Because the app travels with you on your laptop, tablet or smartphone, you can instantly dial up any of those documents wherever you are in the world. Lengthy documents are easy to scan in thanks to the power of duplex scanners. And if you’re willing to shell out for a premium account, you can even search by words within the documents you’ve scanned. Evernote also lets you type your own notes or clip articles from the web.

Omnifocus (Apple / iOS)

This is a personal task manager built around the philosophies of productivity king David Allen.

Allen, whose 2001 book Getting Things Done made him a god in business circles, is big on the idea of breaking down goals into the next ‘actionable’ item. This app helps you break down your own life’s goals and projects into bite-sized actionable tasks. You can make changes along the way, put projects on hold or schedule tasks months in advance: the possibilities are vast. Best of all, you can use the app via your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Spark (Apple / iOS)

Spark is one of a growing breed of so-called smart inboxes that makes processing emails easier. You can easily bulk delete junk mail, snooze emails to check later or have your inbox sorted into automatic categories. You can also customise your iPhone’s swipes to perform various actions like sending certain emails to your Evernote account.

Slack

Slack is a cloud-based tool for streamlining communications across organisational teams. You can build conversation channels either by project, topic or team, making it all the more flexible than email. It also boasts a searchable database of past conversations, creating transparency between workers. With  face-to-face features built in, the system aims to bridge the divide between typing and talking.

Scannable

The next time someone hands you a business card at a networking event, simply whip out your smartphone, take a scan of it via the Scannable app and hand the card back to them – that’s how fast and easy it can now be to eliminate such paper from your life. In many ways, Scannable is a smaller cousin to Evernote and could be a fitting companion to that app.

Hootsuite

A popular social media dashboard, Hootsuite can help you schedule posts, engage with your followers and track the demographics of your audience.

It’s a one-stop-shop for managing your brand’s social media presence on multiple platforms – be it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or others. Not only can you measure the impact of your social media campaigns, you can also track just what people are saying about your brand.

Grammarly

Whereas the spelling and grammar checkers of old were confined to the word processor, Grammarly will fix your mistakes on pretty much any web platform you write on, whether it’s Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn or elsewhere.

Unlike traditional checkers, Grammarly goes beyond the mere quick fix, alerting you to anything from weak adjectives to complex grammatical errors. It comes free as a browser extension and will even drive key lessons home for you in its weekly progress reports.

Crystal Knows

This Chrome app helps you run better meetings by predicting the personality of who’ll be seated on the other side of the table.

It works by taking that person’s social media footprint and applying personality detection software. For example, if the person you’re about to meet is detected as an outgoing creative type, the app will forewarn you to keep your language a bit more casual.  The app applies the same concept to emails too, helping you compose more personalised messages to match the recipient’s persona.

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook

At first glance this tool might look like a regular pad, but on closer inspection it’s a world-first reusable notebook.

The idea of the “Smart Notebook” is thatthat once you’ve run out of pages to write on, it’s simply a matter of saving all you’ve written into a cloud by scanning it via your smartphone.

From there, you can erase and reuse the notebook by putting it in your microwave. This producitivity tool had some early critics, however: when Rocketbook co-founder Joe Lemay first unveiled the product at the 2015 Launch festival, famed angel investor Jason Calacanis reportedly scoffed, saying, “Who do you think you are?  The Elon Musk of notebooks?”

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John Nelder

John Nelder is a former SmartCompany journalist.

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