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Time saving business tools

Ande Schurr shares tools for time management and adding a level of integration and automation to your tasks and managing business leads.


In the first in a series of four posts by Ande Schurr on tools for success, he looks at time management and adding a level of integration and automation to your tasks and managing business leads.

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A new tool must save us time and increase our productivity. These 11 tools were recognised by freelancers within a freelancer-focused Meetup group I facilitate.

This article marks the first in a series of four which will target tools for the whole person’s success, rather than only business tools. As if any business tool could replace client connection and empathy, great friendships with family and others built over time - and the path of knowing oneself. All four aspects in their entirety is what a ‘rich’ life is really about.

Picture a bicycle tyre. The outer tyre represents our business, spokes are tools, and the hub, our life. It’s easy enough to know how our business is doing - whether we are growing and profiting versus diminishing and increasing debt. As for the spokes? They are the tools - that help us relate to our business, relate to clients, relate to friends, relate to ourselves.

However, what is more difficult is the hub, how our life is going. It certainly takes a lot more than business success for a happy life to ensue. Any sustained successes in business are likely the result of getting the hub and all the other parts right.

This tyre analogy is something my mentor, David Samuel, explained to me. How we sleep at night determines how we are living. If we are ‘out’ within minutes then life’s okay. If we often toss and turn at night then something is wrong in one of these ‘relating' areas of our life.

In this instance, we are looking at the best business tools. May they save you plenty of time so you can do the things that matter most to you.

1. Pomodoro Technique (Time Strategy)
Italian for ‘tomato’, named after the tomato shaped timer the author of the system used, the method involves:
25 minute work (a ‘Pomodoro’) then a 5 minute break
After four Pomodoro’s or 100 minutes, you take a 15-20 min break.

2. Top Three Tasks (Time Strategy)
Write down clearly the top three tasks you must complete today so you don’t ‘forget’. Estimate the time each task will reasonably take then cut the time by 10-20 percent to force you to work harder. Set the timer and begin!

3. Double data backups & Excel tabs (Data and Filing Strategy)
It says it all. In this instance, our speaker explained how they keep no data on their laptop, but instead connect two external hard drives for back ups. The Excel document with tabs for usernames and other important information are part of their filing system. Keeping it simple and reliable can give you more peace of mind than relying on a cloud-based system or something that someone else owns on a server in another country (as much as I rely on Dropbox!).

4. Wunderlist or Trello
The ultimate organising App for business and life.

5. Toggl or Everhour
The ultimate timer.

6. Zapier or IFTTT [If This Then That]
Connecting your apps to function seamlessly.

A very smart organiser for your inbox that groups the subscriptions of your choice into a single daily digest.

8. Scrivener
Authors, content creators, type your heart out. This tool organises all your words.

9. Xero (subscribe) or Wave (free)
Accounting made simple. Use on smart phone or computer. Xero produces a GST return in a single click (although you still file it separately with IRD). 

10. Pocket (App)
Good for those times you are trawling the web for answers and you need to revisit multiple pages, videos, images.

11. Contactually (App)
Manage and track your business relationships. US$25 p/m cheapest option.

Written by

Ande Schurr

27 May 2015

Corporate video producer and production sound recordist now based in Singapore after a 15-year career in New Zealand. Video clients incl. universities, tech startups, medical clinics and business consulting agencies. Sound clients incl. Netflix, Discovery, BBC, National Geo.