If you are as obsessed about your daily routine and productivity levels as Benjamin Franklin was, you probably end the day with your own variation on the famous question, “What good have I done today?”
But the tricky thing about productivity is that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy, as it does all come down to individual habits, interests and characteristics. While some welcome the day in a downward dog position, others are just hitting the pillow after a long but productive night.
Finding the rituals that help you get things done is crucial to maintaining a steady flow of productivity. Yet, as Henry Ford’s five-day workweek concept introduced a century ago has proved, people can be more productive when they work less, so cutting yourself some slack and taking a breather now and then is a productivity-boosting idea, too.
What you must pay attention to, though, is how to utilize and take advantage of the tools that are built and designed to optimize the boring, save time and improve your productivity. Habits and rituals are only one part of the story; apps, software and tools that help to streamline processes and declutter the mind are the secret sauce that binds teams and builds success.
12 busy entrepreneurs swear by these online tools that help them manage time, teams and projects without losing their cool.
Weiting Liu, Codementor
Weiting Liu is the founder & CEO of Codementor, an on-demand marketplace of software developers for mentorship and freelance projects. He manages a team of 20 people in the Bay Area and Taiwan, and leads a vibrant community of 200K+ developers and 6000+ vetted experts worldwide.
Zapier - for automation. Zapier is our secret weapon for internal operations. We hook Zapier to multiple endpoints in our system and our team really enjoys watching the smart notifications coming in :).
Workflowy - We like to use Workflowy to collaborate on daily meetings, weekly milestones, and monthly planning.
Front - Our team *loves* Front. We started using Front as a customer support inbox and we're now using it for every customer-facing group email addresses.
Instapaper - I consume a lot of blog posts and use Instapaper to help me stay sharp. I especially love the "speak" feature so I can listen to articles as if they're podcasts.
RescueTime - I use RescueTime to keep track how I spent my hours across various apps on a weekly basis. I've been using it since 5 years ago and have found myself looking forward to its weekly summary email.
Einaras Gravrock, CUJO
Einaras Gravrock is the founder and CEO of CUJO, a smart internet firewall device that shields homes and small businesses from cyber threats. He has previously founded and built an eCommerce business that generated $50M in annual sales. Einaras was named one of Goldman Sachs’ 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs 2014 and is a member of the prestigious YPO Los Angeles organization.
Yesware.com - this is one of those before/after tools in my professional life. Yesware allows me and my sales team to track opens for personal emails, reminds me if/when my recipients have not responded to my emails and also allows for ‘personalized’ bulk email with AB testing of subject lines.
Buffer - I use buffer to post my thoughts and company updates on Linkedin and other social channels. Besides giving me unified analytics for my posts, I can also schedule the posts.
Linkedin - it’s the only social network I still use. My networking revolves around Linkedin. Linkedin is as important to a tech entrepreneur as email.
Join.me - for video conferencing and screen sharing I use join.me. Easy UX, inexpensive, worldwide dial-ins. Much faster to set up for callers than Webex.
Omar Zenhom, WebinarNinja
Omar Zenhom is the CEO & Co-Founder of WebinarNinja and The $100 MBA. Omar helps small businesses to have a big impact with tools like WebinarNinja and lessons from his best of iTunes podcast, The $100 MBA Show.
Basecamp - The best tool for teams of 5 or more. It's been my cure for team tools overload. One place for everything you need to work on ongoing projects with your team. Google Drive - Google, I LOVE YOU. We organize all our files, documents and spreadsheets in one central location. It's easy to block access to all your files when you have to let an employee go.
News Feed Eradicator for Facebook - This is a great Chrome extension. I can hop on Facebook to update my status or reply to comments but not get sucked in to watching 11 insanely cute 'Kids React To' videos. How? This tool simply blocks your Facebook news feed. The best way to kick your Facebook fix. FIO Chrome Extension - This Chrome extension is simple yet very handy. Set up different timezones and see them at a glance when you open a new tab. Even set up appointments with one click. Great for global teams. Audible App - I've consumed over 35 books this past year because of this app. Audible has a great selection of audiobooks read by great voice-over actors. If you spend an hour at the gym or commuting everyday, you can easily listen to a book a week. Talk about productive.
Sabine Sipunova, Sorry as a Service
Sabine Sipunova is the founding COO of Sorry as a Service. She started her career as a VC analyst and decided to sit on the other side of the table. An entrepreneurial personality bursting with creative ideas. Lover of fashion and wine.
Good Ol’ TO DO list - Just getting a sheet of paper and writing a “to-do” list for the day, including work and personal. It helps to be realistic about your day and get to the very priorities.
Asana - It is a wonderful and efficient tool because it requires you to chunk your projects and goals in smaller tasks, and everyone in the team can see how far you are. We do weekly plannings and everyone knows what the priorities are that week.
Slack - We don’t use email within the team anymore, all the conversations happen in the relevant channels so everyone in the team can follow different discussions in different parts of the business.
Google Calendar - Having a transparent and unified calendar with your team that you can access both from mobile and desktop just frees up the valuable MBs of your brain memory.
Evernote - I use Evernote for everything: when I need to make some notes from calls, calculations, thoughts, plans or ideas. It is just so simple and intuitive, and most importantly searchable that lets you find something from long past.
Google Drive - We have a pretty organised Google Drive for the team, where we often collaborate and all the documents are accessible to the relevant people in the team.
Gil Allouche, Metadata.io
Gil Allouche is the founder of Metadata, a data-driven marketing engine that targets your buyer persona online and generates net new sales-qualified leads in your pipeline.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator - summarizes all the info I need for every meeting I go to, prospect I sell to or company I'm visiting. The pro account gives me complete information in a very neat way.
Notepad - it sounds crazy but I manage my meetings’ notes in Microsoft Notepad or Google Docs and keep all the notes for every meeting under “/people/”, with a nice naming convention. This helps me to go back in time and see exactly what the action points were and start the next meeting from there vs. from scratch.
Google Calendar - I consistently block hours in my day and week and divide the time between external and internal work. External is meeting with employees, customers, partners, events etc, internal is getting shit done type of work where I sit down and act vs. talk about it.
Motivation - a great chrome widget that reminds you how old you are and makes sure you're aligned with your goals. Gets you paranoid and motivated to get stuff done.
Boomerang - a great tool to make sure you don't let things drop off the radar.
Quip - an amazing collaboration tool that helps us manage all of our projects, customers and processes without the overhead. Simple and useful.
Shlomi Stein and Ilan Zrien, Simbla
Shlomi Stein and Ilan Zrien, founders of Simbla website builder, both noticed a lack of excellent, simple and productive tools. So they started toying with an idea to create a platform where anyone can create database-driven websites and applications that all talk the same language, and come with a reasonable price tag.
Google tools - because how can you run proper SEO without using Google’s toolkit?
Similar web - a great tool to know who's against who and get a perspective about different sites and applications.
Mailchimp - getting a campaign running is very important and can be very tough. We found that MailChimp offers a great tool allowing us very easily to get our word out with any new update.
Parse - another great tool we used, allowing us to take Facebook’s product and make it our own in order to create our online database systems anyone can use.
Bryan Buchanan, 22Slides
Bryan Buchanan is a designer, developer, photographer and founder of 22Slides, a simple portfolio website builder.
“Productivity is about allocating resources in a rational way to achieve a desired result. And, although it's easy to think of your time as different or less scarce than other capital (like money) it absolutely isn’t,” believes Bryan.
Things - is my long-time task manager of choice. I've tried as hard as I can to adopt newer and shinier tools that aren't developed at such a snail's pace, but I always find myself coming back for its incredible reliability, polished design, integration with Siri, and its perfect amount of complexity.
iA Writer - most of my time is spent writing - anything from essays to technical documentation, so I very much value having a text editor that's both bullet-proof and enjoyable to use. In the past, I've used a combination of Simplenote for short-form and organization and Byword for longer pieces (both of which I still love), but iA Writer's integrated iCloud notes browser gives me everything I'm looking for in one app.
Soulver - is a great little Mac/iOS app that's somewhere between a calculator and a spreadsheet, which I find very useful for impromptu number crunching, like when hashing out details of a deal.
Pocket - with literally the world's information one click away, distractions are a very real hazard that can absolutely kill a day's productivity. Pocket allows me to quickly bookmark things to revisit later, which has both kept me more focused on the task at hand and excited to learn about new things when I have free time.
1Password - normally, I wouldn't consider a password manager to be much of a productivity tool, but with the sheer number of separate accounts necessary to do anything these days, one's productivity is definitely hurt by not using one.
Ilija Studen, Active Collab
Ilija Studen is the co-founder of Active Collab, a project management software tool that started out as an open source project shared by two college friends and evolved into a successful commercial product used by more than 200,000 users worldwide.
DayOne - is a place where I keep my daily notes and memories. With thousands notes and photos panning 1500+ days, my journal became an important asset. There was great many situations where I looked up decisions, bits of information, or just dates when particular events happened in the journal, and that helped me make better decisions, or give context to a memory.
RescueTime - is a background tool that tracks desktop and web apps that I use. I don’t spend a lot of time analyzing these reports. Instead, I have one daily goal set and wait for an email notification that it has been reached – 2 effective hours of software development each day.
Soulver - offers a different approach to simple (and not so simple) calculation. Instead of creating spreadsheets, and using formulas and graphs to make sense of the numbers, Soulver lets me write a simple narrative and calculates results on the right.
Clipboard manager is a simple, yet effective utility tool, and Pastebot is my choice. A tool like this can save anyone a lot of time when it becomes part of user’s everyday routine.
Marijus Andrijauskas, Teamgate
Marijus Andrijauskas is the founder and CEO of Teamgate, a complete inbound sales CRM for today’s business.
Slack - all in-house and outsourced communication is in one place. It's great, mobile, and smart. I love chatbots, the integrations it has. It is an amazing tool to keep me updated all the time.
Cyfe - my new friend. I found it as a solution not a long time ago but already transferred all data here. It's a powerful dashboard that can "eat" any kind of sources to visualize, starting from marketing, sales, customer support and finalizing with finance part. Perfect.
Any.do - a mobile tool for quick daily tasks. It has an amazing feature called "plan my day" where you can skip, move to other time, or complete tasks in a different way. I love it.
Google Docs - we are very deep into it. It's integrated, it's powerful, it's helpful.
Trello - all bigger tasks are with Trello. Great tool to be organized.
Matas Jakutis, Filippo Loreti
Matas Jakutis is the founder of Filippo Loreti. Having broken the crowdfunding world record twice, Filippo Loreti is considered to be one of the fastest growing luxury watch brands in the world.
TooglDesktop - by tracking time spent on each task I see where my time actually goes. Then I do a weekly report to shift my focus from tasks that I can delegate, to my highest value activities.
Trello - a great tool for internal and external (contractors) task management. Set deadlines, priorities, set tasks to team members.
Slack - a tool that we use for all of our internal communications. Video/voice call, sharing files, discussion at the channel level, PM - Slack has it all.
Google Calendar - if it's not on our calendar - it does not exist. Great tool for blocking time, scheduling meetings and more.
Google docs and sheets - we don't use word or excel anymore. We have moved everything to the cloud in order to avoid having to resend files with edits and to enable multiple people to collaborate on one file with different access levels.
Boomerang for gmail - an irreplaceable tool for following up. Simply set when would you like to get a reminder to go back and check particular email thread - Boomerang will do the rest
Arnas Stuopelis, Hostinger
Arnas Stuopelis is the CEO of Hostinger, a web hosting solution for online businesses.
Notepad - a simple text editor.
Google calendar - to keep track of a busy schedule.
Github - a great development platform that helps teams to work through problems and move ideas forward.
Blinkist - I read business books with Blinkist app and save plenty of time. 1,800+ best-selling nonfiction books, transformed into powerful shorts that you can read or listen to in just 15 minutes.
Headspace - I personally use and recommend Headspace app. It makes my mind clear and calm. You don’t need to read about it, you need to try it.
Reda Stare, PlateCulture
Reda Stare is the founder of PlateCulture, a marketplace of private dining in South East Asia.
Trello - is one of the oldest tools I have been using. Helps us with everything from bigger projects to small reminders and keeps the head empty, helping to stay on track while on the go.
Slack - we have started using slack as a simple switch from Skype, which at those days was used to keep instant communication between team members.
Google drive - oldie but goldie. Can’t imagine sending/sharing any files as attachments anymore.
Pocket - helps to keep focus on main things and keep the balance of valuable feed to read later.
Blinkist - is a great help for me to stay on top with all the books I want to read. When commuting, it allows me to listen to summary of a whole book. Great inspiration for the day!