Being a startup founder or CEO has got be one of the most intense, gut-wrenching and rewarding experiences in your life. Things can change so fast from one day to the next that the “business status update” blog that you wrote last night, might become irrelevant the next morning.
Getting a new business off the ground requires startup founders to push their limits, work at a breakneck pace and have laser-like focus. What I find especially intriguing is how many CEOs juggle between multiple businesses sometimes, or even a job and a business, yet still stay sane and productive. A bit of digging around reveals that the secrets lie in a few nifty apps that they – and now I – cannot live without.
Here are the top productivity apps that will help you organise your hectic startup life, delegate work, and take control of your precious time.
If you feel overwhelmed by a mountain of tasks or need a simple yet effective way to delegate tasks to your team, Trello can come to the rescue. Trello’s design is clear and straightforward with a series of “lists” arranged from left to right on a “board.” Each “list” can hold several “cards,” each of which can be a task that needs to be done. As simple as it sounds, Trello is not just a to-do list app, but is also a practical tool you can use to keep track of your team members’ progress, which can also provide you with an eagle eye over the whole project.
At ClicksAndLeads.com we have boards with task templates for daily tasks, weekly tasks, new client onboarding, podcast episode creation for Own It!!, and much much more. It took a bit of video watching to figure out how to use it, but, if you have someone who loves creating systems on your team, this is a job they will absolutely love.
Slack has, quite simply, saved my inbox. We use it for all team communication; you can chat privately to a team member, or add several members to channels such as “CairnX Media – Finances” for example. We have a channel for each client so all information and discussions about that client’s Facebook Ads account is kept in one place. It integrates with Trello, YouTube, and Google Drive among others, so if you drop a link to a YouTube video or a document into Slack, you can actually view the doc or watch the video within the app. This saves so much time and tabs in your browser. Slack also has a really nice mobile app for Android, iPhone, and iPad use. We love it.
Many times at the end of the day you look at your half-finished to-do list and wonder, “Where did my time go?” Rescue Time is an app that answers that exact question. The web-based app runs quietly in the background, watching attentively and tracking your every move, so that you can have a few “Ah-ha!” moments looking at your own stats at the end of the week. This unsung hero even offers you a “get focused” mode, which blocks the sites that you have deemed the most distracting. With all these powerful features, Rescue Time is the true hero that brings time back to you.
Dropbox & Google Drive
You’ll never again be in a situation in which you’ve left an important file on your home computer across town, or you can’t access that crucial presentation as it’s in another laptop. Google Drive and Dropbox are drop-dead simple to use, and will make your life a ton easier by syncing all your files across your desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and the web. This cloud-storage tool also makes file sharing a piece of cake, especially for those 1GB videos that will cripple your receiver’s mailbox if sent as attachments.
I don’t use it myself – just haven’t had time to puzzle it out yet – but many Founders / CEO’s swear by it so I couldn’t leave it out. Evernote is the go-to productivity tool of many startup leaders and business executives. It’s like a little magic notebook that goes with you everywhere, is at your service no matter which device you are using, and records anything you can think of – an interesting article you read online, a business card of a potential client that you meet in a networking event, or the epiphany you have while commuting that can save the world’s forests. Evernote is the one-stop resource for your brain-dumping needs.
Xero & Receipt Bank
We use Xero for all our accounting needs. My VA, accountant, and book-keeper can login from wherever they’re working. Xero integrates with our bank account, and we use it in conjunction with a brilliant app called Receipt-Bank, which enables me to simply take a photo of paper receipts and upload. I, or my VA (or both) can also forward the many email receipts that come in to my inbox straight to Xero.
Invaluable for battling jet lag, you simply set Sleepcycle to wake you up within an hour of when you want to get up – but – at the lightest part of your sleep cycle, which means no more waking up groggy, or being reluctant to take a power nap because you feel so grim for a while after waking! I barely noticed a trip to Las Vegas recently, and only missed the bus for dinner once, catching up by taxi shortly after!