The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
This week we asked, “What’s your favorite productivity tool or app and why? Explain how it’s helped you save time and/or money and how it fits into your routine?” Their answers are below.
1. Mastering Time with the Pomodoro Technique
A few weeks into building our startup, our team discovered the Pomodoro Technique. Pick a task, set your timer to 25 minutes, and stay focused. Go on Facebook during the 25 minutes? Start over. Go on Twitter? Start over. Decide to call your girlfriend or boyfriend? Start over. This 25-minute time-boxing productivity technique has changed the way we worked forever. If you want to take control of time, start using this ASAP!
2. Bring In Boomerang
I love the tool Boomerang for Gmail. It will put an email back to the top of my inbox if I don’t hear back, and it also allows me to schedule important emails ahead of time so I can make sure critical information and reminders go out to my team when I’m traveling.
3. Go With Google Calendar
I am a fanatic about Google Calendar. At the beginning of every week, I prioritize what needs to get done, and I plan out the coming week by blocking chunks of time in my calendar. In addition to appointments with clients, partners and team members, I make appointments with myself, so I know that I’ll have time to focus on my most important priorities. The first thing I do every morning is check my Google Calendar to see what must get done. And because it automatically syncs with my iPhone, I have my calendar with me at all times, which allows me to keep score with my time. Over time, I’ve learned how long projects and tasks should take and I’ve become at planning my hours and days. My advice to entrepreneurs: treat every day like it’s a race against the clock.
4. Producteev Is for Productivity
I love using Producteev. It’s a leading, simple, incredibly effective, and cross-platform productivity tool that’s free for individuals and small teams. The user interface is fantastic, and the company is constantly innovating—Producteev connects with a variety of other companie s’ products like TaskRabbit and Google, and Producteev is always using the latest design concepts in all of its apps.
5. Sync With BufferApp
I love BufferApp, as it allows me in 20 minutes on Sunday night to schedule all of my tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn posts at once, and then go on with my week knowing that I will be an active social media users even when I have back to back meetings all day long.
6. QuickBooks Online Saves Time
QuickBooks Online has been an accounting life saver for us! I spend ten minutes a day with it an the books are done. Payroll takes about 30 seconds. Since it’s the online version, you can access from anywhere (even your smartphone). All of your bank transactions are downloaded automatically. You can use it to pay all of your payroll taxes in just a few clicks when they’re due. They are also constantly adding new features, and there are many plugins you can add onto your account to help with other productivity.
7. Asana Is an Asset
I have found Asana to be an invaluable asset in organizing a big, complicated project like a book launch. To be efficient and effective, I create projects for each component of the launch. For example: magazine outreach, joint venture partners, training, conferences. Under each project, I group related tasks, and within each task, I have notes about what I’ve done and what I would like to do next . I set a due date for each task that reminds me when I need to do the task and/or follow up on what I’ve done. As I think of new ideas, I add them into the appropriate area. Every morning, I check to see what’s due that day and make it part of my daily schedule. Asana is not only incredibly helpful but also it’s free for small teams.
8. Stick With Basecamp
Basecamp is a tool perfectly designed for an entrepreneur. It allows you to setup multiple projects under one account and have timelines associated for each. It will send you reminders, it allows you to stay on top of what your team is doing, and helps keep a project on track. It is intuitive and can become an integral part of your business. You may even opt in to allowing your clients to see their Basecamp account as a strategy to keep them updated on their account.
9. Priority Inbox Gmail Lab
Earlier this year I started using the Priority Inbox lab in Gmail, and it has made me 5,000 times more productive. It identifies important emails and places those in a separate inbox within your inbox from less important ones. I get hundreds and hundreds of emails a day, so to be able to at a glance see which ones of thos e actually matter and are urgent ensures that I get to them and that they do not get lost in a sea of less important emails.