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11 Best Business Apps To Run A Business Efficiently

Grace sent me an email and asked me if I could write a post about how incorporating technology has helped me run my business more efficiently.

Time management and the methods I use to be more productive are some of my favorite topics. I have written about it many times and as early as in 2008, with a short post about time management when you have kids.

Today I’ll tell you about the 11 best business apps I am currently using. Technology is an important part of my business, even when I’m out walking as you can see on the picture below (it’s from the fortress in Halden).

Halden

Changes

A lot has changed with technology during the years since I started my business. There are apps that can help us with close to everything in business, and there are more information than most of us can handle. At the same time, there are many weapons of mass distraction and many interruptions during the day.

What I’m saying is that at no time in history has it been this easy to stay productive and get help to run your business, and at no time in history is there more distractions and interruptions.

This is why it’s very important for each of us to stay focused, prioritize what to focus on, stay productive and goal oriented, and at the same time understand the importance of having fun on the journey (and not just focusing on the results).

Technology

Let’s start with how I deal with interruptions and weapons of mass distraction.

Focus

I have written about how the iPhone is killing my productivity. But, the one app I use on my iPhone that’s actually helping me to get focused is an app that keeps me away from my mobile phone. The app is Forest.

What this app does is that it grows a forest when you’re not using your mobile phone. If I start using it a tree will die. It’s that simple.

The second business app I’m using to stay focused is a service that plays “perfect” background music. The service is Focus@Will. The music is created to help us stay focused an productive.

Priority

I have been using many different project managers and to-do list apps, and I’m sure that I’ll be switching many times in the future as well. During the past years, I have been using business apps like Todoist and IQTell, but I keep coming back to the one business app that I can’t live without, and that’s Omnifocus (it’s about time I wrote a review of how I’m using it).

Time

One of the reasons I keep coming back to the importance of time management, is that no matter who we are or where in the world we are, each of us only have 24 hours a day, 168 hours every week, and so on. No matter how good we are, we don’t get more time. Time is a limited resource.

I use different services to help me manage my time and to help me understand how I am using my time. I use RescueTime to see reports on what I’m doing on my computer, and I use Toogl to track the time I use on each “project”.

Write

I have tested many different services and apps for writing, and even though I still use many different writing tools, there are especially two I use the most for my business. I use Evernote for close to everything that comes to mind, it’s mostly notes, but I also use it as an archive for documents and email.

I use Desk to write all my blog posts. This is a desktop publishing client for Mac, it’s very easy to use and powerful.

Mail

I spend a lot of time with mail every day, it’s an important part of my workflow. I have tested many different clients, but I keep returning to Mail.app from Apple. I combine Mail.app with Omnifocus and Evernote, and it works great.

Reading

I read every day. I read books on Kindle and I read books on paper. I also subscribe to Blinkist to read short versions of books. The app I use the most when it comes to writing is Pocket. I save all blog posts and all websites that’ll be reading in Pocket.

Audio

I listen to podcasts every single day. I have tested different podcast apps, but the one I’m currently using is Overcast and it’s amazing. You can view all the different podcast I am listening to here.

CRM

One of the most important business services I am using is a customer relationship manager (CRM). This is the only way I can keep track of every relationship. I have tested several, but the one I am currently using is Contactually.

Paper is still important to me

I have listed the 11 best business apps I am currently using to help run my business more efficiently. As I’m writing this I keep thinking about how important paper still is for me. I still write my morning pages on paper, and even though I add all my projects and daily tasks to Omnifocus, I still plan my day using paper.

There are three reasons why I’m still using paper for my daily planning. The first one is that I believe that it helps me stay creative, the second one is that at the same time I feel I’m in more control when I’ve used a pen and paper. The third is that I remember a lot better when I write something on paper.

How technology is helping my business

I could have listed many more business apps, and I could have written a lot more details about how I use every single service to manage my business, and I probably will, but not today.

Technology is helping me on every single aspect of running my business. I focus by using technology. I read by using technology. I build strong relationships, communicate, and keep track of everything I do; it’s all happening by using different technology.

I am using Evernote to keep track of all the business apps I am using, and I am also tracking the costs.



20 responses to “11 Best Business Apps To Run A Business Efficiently”

  1. Lisa Sicard says:

    Jens, it amazes me that we have so much technology at our fingertips yet it does zap the time out of our life quite easily. Things were supposed to be easier when businesses went paperless but if you go to a bank or store everything takes longer via the computer. It doesn’t seem any easier today than 30 years ago. It seems actually harder.
    I like using paper too – I use it to make my to do lists when I need to stay focused. It does help me to remember things too. I love the post its for that. I tried the post it app but it was NOT the same.
    I’ll have to check some of your apps out, I have a Droid so I’ll have to see if they are available there as well as on your iPhone.
    Thanks for the tips and have a great day Jens.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes, going paperless hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. My biggest struggle is to keep my iPhone away. It’s too easy to keep checking things and discovering new information, when I should be focusing on working. On the other hand, technology has helped my business grow and it’s really amazing if we just use it right.

      Let me know if you test any of the apps.

  2. Arbaz Khan says:

    Hey Jens,
    I liked all the apps that you mentioned in the article but loved 2 apps – Focus@will and Desk. These 2 apps are going to help me a lot in staying productive!
    Thanks for the list! 🙂

  3. Hi Jens, Lol, the Planet Earth would be de-forested if I used Forest. Yikes!

    Great list of apps that you use for efficiency. I use the Kindle, Overcast and Evernote but not the rest (though I do have Pocket and really need to use it).

    Dropbox is an essential tool for me, especially for shared folders.

    It’s funny that you use so many apps to get you focused. I find I have the opposite issue. I’m so focused when I’m writing that I don’t get up from my computer for hours. My Apple Watch is helping with that, nudging me to move every hour!

    • Yes, forest is probably not the app for you 🙂

      I should probably have added Dropbox. I use it for many of my files and especially sharing. I’ve been thinking about switching to iCloud, since I already have all my photos in iCloud, but I’m not sure how easy it is to share files compared to Dropbox.

      Still thinking about if I should be buying the Apple Watch …

  4. Sneha says:

    Heyya..I think these things were supposed to be easier when businesses went paperless but if you go to a bank or store everything takes longer via the computer. It doesn’t seem any easier today than 30 years ago. It seems actually harder.It’s funny that you use so many apps to get you focused. I find I have the opposite issue. I’m so focused when I’m writing that I don’t get up from my computer for hours.Thanks for the list! 🙂

    • Hi Sneha, There are many other benefits than time after going “paperless”, for instance digital archives. But we’re depending on technology and I’ve been in stores that couldn’t sell me things because they either had problems with connection to the bank or electricity. I use many apps, but not all of the 11 are for focus. I use them to have better control, build stronger relationships (via CRM) and have a great archive (Evernote). It seems like a lot, but it’s great to work with them all as part of my workflow.

  5. I’ve moved on to Mailbox from Apple mail.

    You should try it if you haven’t Jens!

  6. Shobha Ponnappa says:

    Hey Jens,

    That is so true! When I had started out there was not twitter, facebook or any other social site that are popular now. Yes, I guess there were sites like myspace and digg or slashdot. But they weren’t as big on distraction as Facebook is or as productive as these cell phone apps are.

    Haven’t heard about focus@will, trying it out now. Seems good so far.

    I do use paper for a lot of things that you use apps for, I use off line notepads for writing small blog post intros, topic ideas, plans etc. It seems a lot more real that way. But when am ready for the draft, I start writing in wordpress.

    • Hey Shobha,

      Yes, there are so many distractions at the moment, but at the same time, there are so many valuable resources we can use to communicate and build strong relationships. It’s just that we need to build the right workflow and focus on the right things to do and keep saying no to things that are not moving us forward.

      You can test Focus@Will for free. I did, and I was so impressed that I upgraded just after the trial was finished.

  7. Gaurav says:

    Its a technology world and everyday its growing very fast. These list of apps you shared that are really very helpful for any business. Infect i have used Forest app and loved it.
    Thank you very much for this excellent information .

  8. Hey Jens,

    I work in IT and it’s just amazing how much technology has advanced just within a year. On top of that, there’s apps that have come up for certain areas within technology. Take email for example, I just read a blog post about plethora of apps to help you stay organized just with gmail. One thing that me and you have in common is evernote. I’m on it every week whenever I come up with a good idea for a blog post.

    But the downside to technology is that it can be distracting. One thing I do admit is that I have a weakness for youtube LOL.. There’s just so many different great information out there on youtube that I just can’t overlook LOL.. One program I got into was Ancient Aliens a couple of years back.. I found it on youtube and I got addicted. But my excuse is at least it’s not TV. Well I guess that’s no so much of a good excuse huh?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing Jens! Have a great weekend!

    • Hey Sherman,I do have a weakness for YouTube as well. I watch tutorials all the time, from how to improve on wordpress with the technical stuff, to get better at using Evernote. But, I also watch “the best of” shows like American idol, Xfactor and the voice. I tell myself that I save time by watching “the best of” and not the complete shows 🙂

  9. Good stuff Jens. I use Evernote though lately I haven’t used it as often. Otherwise, I have to admit I’m not using any of the others.

    In a way, I tend to believe that the use of apps is, well, for younger people. They have the time and the inclination to figure out how to use them and then do. I use very few apps on my phone; if I could get rid of most of those that came with it I’d feel better. Some are for reading like Flipboard and the Amazon Kindle app. One is for passwords, Keeper. Otherwise, the only “productive” thing I use other than Evernote is Dropbox; doesn’t everyone have that? lol

    • Hey Mitch,

      I’m always looking for new and better apps to help me with my business. Evernote is one of the apps I use every single day, and I use it for a lot of different things.

      I use Dropbox as well, but I’m currently considering if I should just be using iCould instead, since I’m already using it for all my pictures.

  10. Angela says:

    hey,even with technology pen and paper should never get out of style thanx for the great post,a great business is a business that is run efficiently.

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