Top Tools for Maximum Productivity
By Ron Rosenberg
Sometimes it seems like there's more to get done in a day than you can possibly accomplish. There are certainly some strategies you can apply to become more efficient with your time, but you need to complement this with appropriate tools and techniques to become truly productive.
In this article, we'll share several of our favorites - all of which we currently use or have used in our own business.
Finding the Right Resources
One of the most important - and most challenging - areas in any organization is finding the best resources for your group. It's important to identify and understand your core competencies, and eliminate, automate, or outsource everything else.
Marketing Automation - It's important to have processes, but when they become tedious, it might be a sign that the work you're doing can be automated. This is the system we use for our marketing automation, CRM, membership billing, and affiliate marketing. It does the work of three full-time people!
Staffing - Outsourcing can mean that you have work done by a person or business outside your company or even outside the country. But remember that the concept of "core competencies" applies not only to your organization, but also to you personally. Here's a link to the web page that starts the entire end-to-end staffing process we use for hiring - see if you can use it to find the best people with minimal pain!
Elance - Sometimes it's appropriate to outsource a specific job instead of trying to do it in-house. This is one of the sites we use to find qualified people to outsource repetitive tasks and free ourselves up to focus on what’s truly important in our own business.
oDesk - This is our other favorite site for outsourced jobs. This one has objective skills testing and specific tracking tools built right into the payment mechanism to ensure that "an hour worked is an hour paid, and an hour paid is an hour worked." Plus, it allows for collaboration between multiple independent resources.
Replace Myself - There is an incredible pool of resources available in the Philippines. A highly-educated workforce, excellent English-language skills, and strong technical knowledge make this a viable low-cost option for outsourcing. This site is a good starting point for finding reliable help in a variety of technical and administrative areas.
Even if you have your resources in line with your needs, there's still a lot to keep track of. Here are some of the tools we've used for project and task management.
Wrike - This is the software we use for project management, collaboration, and action planning. It has an intuitive interface and works on our tablets and mobile devices. As a bonus, it integrates seamlessly with Outlook, and makes it easy for our local and remote teams to work together effectively.
Smartsheet - If Wrike is more "horsepower" than you need, then Smartsheet is a good basic tracking tool with the added benefit that you can use it to manage your "Crowdsourcing" projects with its built-in interface to "Amazon Mechanical Turk."
These are several of the automation tools we use to help us be more productive in our day and allow us to focus on what we do best and eliminate, automate or outsource those tasks best done by others.