BY LINDSEY HOBBS
Time management and productivity are constant struggles with entrepreneurship. You’ve got a life after all, and that combined with starting your business can mean that some areas will suffer while others thrive. For instance, maybe your current clients are grooving nicely, but you’ve lost track of promoting yourself to new clients. Or maybe it’s your health that you’re having trouble finding time for. Whatever plates you may have whirling around, there are a plethora of apps now that can help you with this juggling act.
KEEPING A SOCIAL PRESENCE:
Providing a constant social media presence for your business can be a full-time job in itself. Luckily, there are plenty of apps and extensions out there that allow you to stay in the game socially with limited effort.
If you’re not using Buffer to maintain your Twitter presence, then you need to be teaching the world about your time management skills. Buffer is an excellent free app that allows you to create a schedule of tweets– as many times a day as you deem necessary, and at any odd times that you feel will allow you the most eyes on Twitter. Then, once your schedule is set, the extension that you install in your browser, or on your phone, allows you to add articles and hand-written tweets to that schedule’s queue, and it will release them all day at your designated times. That means that if you get your news-reading and tweeting done in the morning, you can have them Buffer out to the world all day without you actually clicking the Tweet button — http://www.bufferapp.com
Pocket is another no-brainer, and it actually goes hand-in-hand with a scheduling app like Buffer. Read something you’re interested in, but don’t have time to finish it? With the click of the Pocket extension in your browser, you can file that article, or page away to read later. Love it once you finally get to read it? Then Buffer it out to your Twitter or Facebook feed, so it looks like your brand is effortlessly up-to-date with the most current news — http://www.getpocket.com
If This Then That, abbreviated IFTTT, is the ultimate way to make your computer work on it’s own, the way you want it to. Sign up for a free account and start to create your own “recipes.” For instance, if your brand is active on Facebook, but you want to utilize Google+ for better Google search mojo, then use the recipe Facebook Page to Buffer to Google+. Your page posts will automatically add to your Buffer account, and then Buffer will automatically post them to your Google+ page. And that’s just one of thousands of combinations that you can make on IFTTT — http://www.ifttt.com
Now that you’ve got your social media life in order, you may want to get some work done. And it’s difficult when you’re being tweeted and retweeted, emailed and Facebook’d. But you can avoid these distractions with some simple free apps, too.
Yes, it is as dramatic as the name implies. This app is for Mac Only, and it will block your access to any sites that you ask it to, for any period of time that you designate. Once that time is up, your Facebook access will be restored (don’t lie, you’re trying to block Facebook like the rest of us) — http://www.selfcontrolapp.com
This app is available to all operating systems and has free and paid versions. If you’re just looking for a better picture of how you spend your time, then the free version will be just fine for you. It will give you a breakdown of your time spent in certain websites, and it will allow you to set productivity goals. However, if you’d like to step it up a notch and add blocking distracting sites, then the paid version is $9/month — http://www.rescuetime.com
BEING ON YOUR A-GAME
And finally, now that you’ve figured out how to spend your time productively, you can do a little bit a reflection to take your productivity to the next level. When do you get more done? Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Figure that out and find one of these sleep-tracking apps that will make sure you get up at the correct early hour, or go to bed at the best night time, ensuring that you will be refreshed when you wake again.
Sleepbot is FREE (heyo), but is Android user only. It comes with a web platform like Mint.com and MyFitnessPal, to name a few other greats. Sleepbot will listen to see if you talk in your sleep or snore, and feel for your movement. Then it gives you a visual demonstration of your sleep quality and tips for healthier sleep, so that you can increase your productivity and energy in the waking hours — https://mysleepbot.com/
This one’s for iPhone users and is only $1 in the app store. Sleep Cycle collects data just like Sleepbot, and then uses calming alarm sounds, or your own music to wake you up at the best possible time in your sleep cycle. If you’re the type who likes to get work done early in the morning, this app will help you feel less groggy when your alarm goes off — http://www.sleepcycle.com/
For either mobile platform, Sleep Time has very similar functionality as the above apps. It’s mostly focused on waking you at your lightest sleep moments, meaning if you set your alarm for some early productivity once again, it will adjust slightly depending on when you will be coming out of your deep sleep cycle. Very handy for getting up and getting moving in the morning — http://www.azumio.com/apps/sleep-time/
These are just a few apps in these categories, and hundreds of others exist in other categories too, like scheduling and calendars, to-do lists and note-taking. Do you have a favorite app that helps you keep yourself together? We’d love to hear about it!
>> Lindsey calls Columbus, Ohio her home, where she is an online marketing strategist by day, and a red wine sipper and budding kickboxer by night. You can read about her mission to learn programming at the614project.com or fuel her Twitter obsession at @hobbsie11.
Psst! Got a way with words? Ask us about our guest writing opportunities!