As business builders, we’re always looking to squeeze a bit more efficiency from our time (so we have more time to spend on Twitter, right?). We’re also performing the tasks of three different jobs, plus being pulled in numerous directions. Here are a few applications, both web-based and desktop-based, that save me time.
RightSignature.com allows me to send contracts to clients and vendors in seconds. This app will even nag the signer via email until they sign the document you sent. Once it’s been executed, RightSignature will alert you, and then store the document. With each contract I send, this app saves me 5 to 15 minutes of emailing and follow up.
If you ever need a simple contract, go to Docracy.com first. While having an attorney draft your contract is probably best, often you have limited time and money. Docracy allows you to quickly find a legal document and alter it as needed. You might even download a basic contract and have an attorney customize it for your needs.
Long emails often miscommunicate, and my tone in emails can change according to the reader. I find myself recording screencasts to communicate bug explanations or longer communications to our support staff. I use Quickcasts to record my various thoughts and then share it with our team.
Skype and iChat are great for video chatting, but Screenhero allows me to collaborate via screen sharing with a teammate. This application allows me to select the whole screen or just an application window, and give my teammate a separate cursor on the same screen so we can work together.
Inbox Super Powered
Much like a medieval knight’s primary weapon was the sword, as a business owner your sword is your email. You use this sword to communicate with your team, and reach out to potential partners, clients, advertisers, etc. My inbox is Gmail, which is a powerful tool, but here are some add-ons that make my inbox super powered.
My contact list is important, and I use two apps to help me keep it updated. Writethat.name and Scrubly.com both have their strong suits, but every six months I make sure my contact list is clean and up-to-date with these applications. Both apps remove duplications and bring in social network data to update your contact lists.
Followup.cc gives my inbox a feature that Gmail is lacking – a reminder feature. However, I use the app slightly differently. I keep my inbox at zero by only keeping things in there that need to be responded to right now. Any email that can wait I send to followup.cc to return to me when I need it. For example: If I’m swamped with tasks and you email me a non-urgent task, I’ll forward that email to firstname.lastname@example.org and in three days that email will return to me. Example #2: If there’s an email I need to discuss with the team on Friday, I’ll forward that email to email@example.com and the email will return this Friday to me. Use followup.cc however you like, but this is the way I’ve adapted their features to best suit my needs.
Boomerang is another app that fills a void in Gmail. There’s some crossover from Followup.cc in Boomerang, but I use Boomerang for a couple of features. Boomerang allows you to schedule an email to be sent later and gives you the ability to say, “If this person doesn’t reply in X days/hours, remind me to contact them.” I use Boomerang instead of a simple CRM, because it helps me stay on top of business development tasks.
Any time you can save yourself some stress, worry, and headache, it’s money well spent. Good tools free up your time to focus on the things that matter. In the Comments of this article, I’d love to hear your favorite time-saving applications and hacks, too.