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There are many tools, software and websites that exist solely to assist people to gain more efficiency in their work.  Often these companies market their product to business owners.  For good reason, too, because small business owners have many tasks and duties that repeat consistently throughout the day.  We want to talk about several of these tools and how they might apply to your business.

“Work smarter, not harder”

Tool #1Wunderlist

Wunderlist is an amazing to-do list software.  It can be used online, through a computer program and a mobile app.  All three are synced together, so you can work on any of the platforms at any time that is convenient for you.

The to-do lists can be categorized into master lists and sub-lists.  Each task item can be given start and due dates and various other bits of information.  Since the lists can be sorted by a few methods, it makes prioritization much easier.  Additionally, there are two default lists “Today” and “Week”.  These automatically pull in tasks that have due dates within those timeframes.

The best feature of this program is its capability to share and communicate between other Wunderlist accounts.  For the free account, you can only share with other accounts.  However, if you have a business account, you can assign users to your employees and assign tasks between your team members.

For more information, check out www.Wunderlist.com.

Tool #2LastPass

How many usernames and passwords do you have to remember?  So many in fact, that I bet you re-use many of the same over and over again.  This drastically reduces your security in the big ol’ World Wide Web.  LastPass is an excellent tool, which not only remembers the username and passwords for you, but it can also help generate highly secure passwords if you want.

The websites you save information for can be categorized into sections, so when you are looking at your Vault (as they call it), you can sort by folder or by site name.  And websites are not the only thing you can save in LastPass.  You can also save contact information and notes.  The glory of LastPass is its account-based encrypted storage.  A master password is kept by you and the rest of the information saved in the Vault is guarded by top-notch online security.

Similarly to Wunderlist, you can share sites’ information with other LastPass users.  This feature is neat in that it saves the information for that shared user and you have the choice to expose the password or not.  Meaning, you can grant a user access to a site without sharing the password with that user.  Pretty neat.  The free edition is pretty extensive, and the paid version offers mobile access and security as well as more share-ability.

For more information, check out www.LastPass.com.

Tool #3Toggl

For businesses that service clients based on billable time, tracking that time can be difficult.  Some use Excel to monitor time or even worse, keep track on a notepad.  They then have to manually add up the time spent by project/task and by client.  Reporting on Excel is difficult enough if you aren’t an expert on that software and reporting from a notepad is near impossible.  This is where Toggl can come into play.

Toggl allows you to set up Clients and Projects.  Each time you start working, you select the client and the project, then enter in a brief description of the task you are working on.  There is a “Start” button, which immediately begins timing seconds and minutes.  When you are completed, the same start button turns into a “Stop” button.  Click that and it logs your time spent.  Reporting is a breeze!  You can pull reports by time frame (this week, last week, last month or last year, etc.), filtering by clients and/or project.  The reports are exportable to Excel or PDF.

These features are all available in the free version, and there are 3 paid versions.  All the paid versions have additional features.  Mainly, billable rates, time estimates and sharing timesheets among teammates.  Toggl also offers price breaks if you buy annually over monthly.

For more information, check out www.Toggl.com.

Tool #4Insightly

So many CRMs in the world!  CRM, or Customer Relationship Manager, is a software designed to keep your prospects and customers top of mind.  You enter in all contacts, keep notes of each contact, enter in tasks related to each and keep yourself involved with your list.  Insightly is a fantastic CRM.

Insightly is very user friendly, not only in its interface but also in its communication with you.  They provide excellent training on their software, keep in touch with you about updates and offer tips and tricks to best use Insightly.  It has all the features of a standard CRM, but they go above and beyond in the service they provide at their affordable rates.  As a small business owner, you can manage quite a large database and have 2 users for free!  But if you are starting to bring on employees, the higher paid plans might be better for you.

Since efficiency is a business owner’s best friend, Insightly offers a Chrome extension which installs a Sidebar for Gmail.  This extension is free and allows you to add contacts, notes and tasks right from your email.  You can also search current contacts from the Sidebar, saving you the time of not having to log into Insightly at every turn.

For more information, check out www.Insightly.com.