5 Time-Management Tools for Small Businesses to Improve Productivity
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
If you own a small business, you likely find it essential to track your employees’ time, even if you don’t bill your clients by the hour.
Many believe that the reason behind time-tracking is limited to billing clients by the hour; but in reality, time-tracking helps you eliminate redundancy and streamline your work process so that you can successfully reduce your overhead costs. Most importantly, effective time management helps you improve your team’s productivity.
There's a good reason for this: Because, the hard truth is that people waste a lot of time at work. From emails to meetings and other interruptions, employees find multiple reasons to step away from the task at hand and kill precious time. Workplace distractions abound -- from personal phone calls and web surfing to social media.
All these things drain your people’s productivity. And, as you've likely found, wasted time impacts the revenue for a small business with limited resources.
The solution, readily available, is to allow employees to develop a pre-set plan for how they spend each work hour. That solution is time management. But the paper/spreadsheet-based time tracking system is so yesteryear and hardly serves today’s dynamic work environment.
What you need, instead, is an agile time-tracking solution that captures the number of hours an individual has worked in real time. Here are five time management tools small businesses can incorporate to better utilize their time.
If you have been using spreadsheets for time tracking but want something more robust, Toggl is a great alternative. It is simple, easy-to-use and built for speed. This time-tracking tool allows you to check the amount of time an individual team member spends on different projects.
Better yet, this online time tracker app allows you to categorize and create reports by project, client, week and/or day. Using Toggl, you can identify not only sources of workplace distraction but also unprofitable projects, and therefore focus on utilizing your time better on the more profitable ones. This, in turn, helps you to improve your overall accuracy and productivity, allowing you to earn more revenues for billable hours.
You can use Toggl for free as your basic productivity tool. However, it also offers two premium packages with extra features as a complete time-management solution.
While technology is the objective here, it can sometimes become a major distraction. Freedom helps you block distractions so that your team can become more productive. It disables networking, temporarily, to help you stay away from all kinds of distracting apps and websites while at work.
Freedom works in an interesting way. You can either block the distracting apps and websites or the Internet from your computer, as a whole. Once you turn on the app, you need to tell Freedom how long you can manage working offline and it will disable the Internet for that time period.
This distraction-management solution allows you to schedule your time in advance or start a session on-the-go. You can use this tool across all devices, including iOS, Android and Windows. Freedom offers a basic, free plan. In addition, there are premium plans available with a seven-day trial offer.
Originally launched as a time-tracking tool, Nutcache functions as an all-inclusive, collaborative project-management tool that integrates time management, invoicing and expense management. Recently, this tool added new features for more effective time-tracking solutions.
The latest update now includes features like multiple web timers that you can run on different tasks to keep an account of your day. You can use these to track time by the duration of the work, displaying on your client's invoice the exact time spent on a task. You also have a detailed calendar view to see who is working on which project, along with the time employees spend on each project.
In addition, the new time-tracking features allow you to assign specific tasks and projects to members. There is an improved display grid, making it much simpler and easier to use. You can now search records directly with an enhanced filter function. Finally, the new update provides an instant overview report, detailing all time entries by project/members.
Nutcache offers a free version limited to two members; in addition, there are two paid versions. The Enterprise package comes with a 30-day free trial offer.
This is a great tool to help you work smarter. Using Launchy, you can launch your files, folders, documents and bookmarks with just a few clicks. It is so easy to use that you can forget about your file manager, start menu or desktop icons, to access whatever you want. By means of a few keyboard taps, you can open various files and programs effortlessly.
Launchy works with various platforms, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It's also an open source keystroke launcher.
5. Remember The Milk
This is a task-management tool that allows you to work effectively with the help of an online to-do list. Remember the Milk is an ideal solution for businesses and teams struggling to manage their to-do lists, especially they're working with many devices. Remember the Milk sends you reminders via SMS, email (both Gmail and Outlook) and IM so that you won’t forget a task ever again.
This tool further allows you to share tasks with team members and assign tasks. Better yet, you can even sync it with other leading tools, like Evernote and Google Calendar. Remember the Milk offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. It's a free tool, although there is a "pro" version available that offers additional features as well as priority support.
Each of these tools serves different purposes, but all are designed to save you time and make you more productive at work. However, it is recommended that you do your homework before opting for any particular one, especially the paid versions.
The good news is that almost all of these apps offer a free trial period. You can therefore explore your options via a "test drive."