Whether you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, when you work online, time is always money.
Luckily, the same technologies that make it possible to build a business online can help you save time and get more done in the process. Here are 18 productivity tools every online business owner needs today.
Alfred is a Mac OS X app that’s designed to help you boost efficiency. You can use it to create custom actions to control your mac and improve productivity, like hotkeys, keywords, and text expansion.
Alfred is a smart app that learns how you use your computer and automatically prioritizes results when you search. Use Alfred’s Clipboard History feature, and you’ll have a database of text, images, or files that you copied before so you can paste them again anytime.
With Snippets, you can type a short abbreviation that Alfred expands into a full text snippet, saving you on typing the same repetitive things every day. You can also link hotkeys, keywords and actions together into your own workflows without writing code.
Dig deep into Alfred’s features and you can save a lot of time on repetitive computer tasks.
Asana (or Trello)
If you ever collaborate with others, even a client, a tool like Asana is a must for productivity. Asana is a project tracking tool so you can understand your responsibilities and assign tasks to others.
Asana integrates well into your other systems — use it to create lists, email them out to your teams, and track progress all in one place.
If you work on projects that have many component tasks, Asana will give you a daily snapshot of progress and what’s left to be done.
Evernote calls itself “your second brain,” and it really is, if you know how to make the most of its features. Evernote helps you take notes and capture websites and information related to them. You can then organize them into a easy-to-navigate database and share your thoughts with others.
Evernote allows you to create notes with links, tables, checklists, attachments and even audio recordings. When you’re working on a project and need to organize your thoughts and resources, there’s no tool that compares to Evernote.
The bigger your business grows, the more complicated your finances become. It’s a good thing, but it takes up a lot of time to track business expenses, especially when you work with employees. Use an app like Expensify, and it will automate your expense reporting for you.
It keeps track of receipts using one-click scanning and automates next-day reimbursement to employees. Make any changes in your accounting system and Expensify will automatically sync the changes for you.
Get Response (or Convert Kit)
Email marketing software in general is an important tool for any online business owner to have, but Get Response is a good platform of choice because it has a low barrier to entry. You can sign up for just $15/month and start capturing leads to market to (up to 1000 contacts). Then you can create and automate your marketing emails to nurture them.
Email marketing is far from dead — online business owners need to create targeted campaigns if they’re going to stay ahead of the game and attract new customers.
Google Drive is a must-have tool for online business owners. For free you can get 15 GB of storage for all sorts of files, including documents, photos, videos, recordings, and more.
You can then access these documents anywhere you log into your Google account. Make changes to a Google Sheets file that’s saved to Google Drive, and it will update across your devices. Work seamlessly knowing you always have the latest version.
Google Drive also allows you to invite other people to view or edit your documents with an email invitation or shareable link. This is great for group projects — you can track and see changes your colleagues make in real-time.
Microsoft Word may have been the standard document of choice for business communications, but the features of Google Drive is making it preferable for many online business owners today.
Organizing documents on your computer is a time-consuming but necessary task if you ever want to be able to find anything. Hazel is a Mac OSX app that can take care of this for you.
You tell it which folders to monitor and create rules for it to automatically organize your files based on name, date, type, what site it came from, and more.
Hazel can open, tag, archive, reorganize, rename and upload files to your liking. Create detailed workflows to help Hazel process your files the way you want.
You can also set it to automatically clear out your trash files that are too old or too bulky. Learn how to take advantage of the advanced features of Hazel and save hours on unnecessary organizing.
Online business owners send tens or hundreds of emails every week. You don’t have the time or the patience to proofread everything you write — you’d get nothing done. That’s where the Hemingway App comes in.
Hemingway Editor automatically highlights dense, complex sentences in yellow or red so you know when you should fix them. Do you tend to revert back to the passive voice? Hemingway will point this out for you in green.
Download the Hemingway desktop app and use it anywhere, online or off, to tighten up your writing when it needs it.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a process automation tool. Create your own rules and IFTTT can help you automate all sorts of business and marketing tasks. For example, you can set it up to automatically Tweet to Twitter whenever you post an Instagram photo. Or create an event on your iPhone’s Calendar using Google Home.
Identify your most repetitive work-related tasks, and IFTTT probably has a rule you can use to automate the process.
LastPass (or 1Password)
People who work online have to log into way more systems than a regular person. In order to remember all the passwords, you have to either use the same password for everything (not safe), or write down all your passwords (also not safe).
LastPass is a solution to this problem. Use it to record all your passwords in one encrypted system, then use a master password to access them. Use the LastPass browser extension and it will automatically log into the websites you frequent, helping you save time trying to remember various passwords throughout your day.
Any online business owner knows that their computer is their work portal but also a pit of distraction. If you spend too much time compulsively checking your emails or side tracking from the task at hand, a tool like OmniFocus can help.
OmniFocus is a Mac OSX app that separates work and play into different ”perspectives,” such as planning, doing, or checking on your upcoming day.
Focus on one specific project or folder to keep yourself in work-mode. If you have an idea or note for another perspective, you can easily save it away for later.
OmniFocus also helps you save time by creating workflow automations, such as emailing out a project or creating a new one from a template.
When you work from home, OmniFocus is a great tool to help you keep your work and home life separate.
Pocket has a simple concept: Find something on the internet that you want to view later, simply put it in your Pocket. You can store just about anything (articles, videos, etc.) from your browser, social media sites, Flipboard, Pulse, and more. Pocket can save things from apps, email, and elsewhere so you can consume the content later with or without an internet connection.
Pocket is a great way to find and curate content for work projects and know you’ll have it all in one, easy-to-access place.
PopClip is a productivity tool that helps you streamline processes when working with text. Select any text with your mouse and PopClip will appear, giving you time-saving options like copy and paste or Send to Evernote.
PopClip can offer spelling suggestions, open URLs or email file paths, and more. Add on free extensions to get PopClip to perform other useful tasks, such as translate, paste and match style, word count, and more.
Think about the most common tasks you perform whenever you highlight a block of text. PopClip probably has a feature to streamline this for you, saving you time on clicks and keystrokes.
Slack is the number 1 team communication software on the web. A simple task management tool will suffice if you want to assign projects and walk away. But what about when several people work together to create something? Nothing beats Slack.
Slack creates a shared workspace where everyone can communicate together. Even better than a physical in-person meeting, Slack conversations become a searchable database, so you can always refer back to your discussions.
You can create group and/or individual conversations for any project, and Slack integrates with other enterprise platforms to streamline your workflows.
TextExpander is a desktop tool that helps you create customized keyboard shortcuts. Save time by streamlining phrases that you use the most.
The cool thing about TextExpander is that it analyzes what you write and offers suggestions for snippets. It’s a must-have tool if you write a lot for work, or deal with repetitive coding tasks.
Whatever snippets you create are also available instantly across all your devices, keeping you productive on your laptop or mobile device.
Todoist is a must-have tool if you want to optimize your productivity when you work online. As a task management tool it sounds like an unoriginal concept, but the value is in its deep features.
Todoist lets you create tasks that you then break down into sub-tasks. Tracking out your progress this way is good for morale and productivity.
You can also create multi-level projects to address the complexity of your work. Share and collaborate on these projects with others, and receive notifications when important changes happen.
No matter your business niche, you have to spend some time nurturing relationships with big industry players if you want to get ahead in marketing. Try doing this with just a spreadsheet of your influencers’ social profiles and contact information and you’ll see how complicated the task gets.
Use a tool like Traackr and it will streamline the whole process. Traackr will help you find influencers, track your relationship with them, and grow your global network. Traackr helps you manage engagement through content feeds that help you uncover the right moments to connect.
Wave (or Quickbooks)
Never waste time tracking business bills or invoices again when you use Wave, an accounting software. Wave’s cloud-based platform and integrations automate your bookkeeping by keeping track of everything in one place. You can create and customize invoices that automatically update your accounting records, and set them up to recur as long as you want.
Schedule payment reminders or automatic credit card payments to save time. View all your bill payments and invoices in one robust reports dashboard to get an easy snapshot of your business performance.
It’s amazing how much work you can get done with just a computer in the comfort of your own home. But if you’re a savvy online business owner, you’ll always be looking for new ways to streamline your workflow and minimize the time you spend on dull, repetitive tasks.
Luckily, there are free and affordable tools coming out all the time that can help you stay focused, automate time-consuming tasks, and even improve your performance at business and marketing. Just take a little time to set up and learn each tool’s features to take full advantage for your productivity.