5 Free Software Tools to Help You Work Better

People who have been working in tech-related jobs often take the tools we use for granted.
We just assume everyone knows about things like Slack or Wunderlist.
But every time I meet a small business owner, I’m surprised at how few of these tools they take advantage of.
At some point tech companies will reach out to your average small business and start catching on in that space, but until then you can grab any of the tools below and gain an instant advantage over your competitors while saving yourself lots of time.

1. Get your people and projects organized.

One place that web applications really shine is with organizational tools. There are several companies that have been working to create the best ones, and there a lot of different choices out there.
The three that I would recommend using are Asana, Basecamp and Trello.
All three are simple and intuitive, and offer plans for letting you try it out free. Out of the three, I’d say Trello is the easiest to get the knack of, but Basecamp is the one I tend to use every day right now.
These tools make it easy to break a task up into pieces, assign those pieces to team members, and set deadlines.
They also make it easy for team members to know what they’re supposed to be doing, and for team leaders to keep track of what’s getting done.
I’m guessing that if you try any of these, you’ll likely wonder how you functioned without it.

2. Get help with small tasks and jobs outside your focus.

Do you need a brochure or a landing page designed? Need some copy writing or research done? Or maybe a whole lot of data entered?
Don’t waste your time or the time of someone on your team having them do something they’re not very good at, or something that isn’t worth their time.
Sites like Upwork and Fiverr let you hire contract workers to fill in any number of skill gaps you need to cover. You’ll be amazed at the number of different jobs you can have done, as well as the quality of the contractors. The software is also really easy to use, and you can choose people by the amount of hours they’ve worked and the ratings other users have given them.

3. Make payroll a lot less awful.

If you’ve ever had to do payroll, you know what a pain-in-the-butt, thankless task it is.
The work is so boring and tedious that it’s easy to lose focus, but by losing focus even for a minute you can make a mistake that causes you to have to repeat work, or worse, messes up someone’s pay. When that happens, everyone suddenly remembers who does payroll, and makes sure to let them know.
Luckily, there’s really great payroll software these days that can make it go much quicker, eliminate the tedium, and help you produce payroll that’s accurate every time. Companies like Gusto, Zenefits and Xero have made huge leaps forward. Check out Betterteam’s guide to payroll software to learn more.

4. Keep yourself organized and focused.

The downside of all this tech for many people is that it can be hard to stay focused.
When you’ve got constant messages coming in from email and social media, as well as every newspaper known to humankind and billions of hours of video at your fingertips, it’s hard not to get distracted.
Luckily there are some great tech tools to help you stay focused and get more done.
The first one I’d recommend is Tide. It’s an app for your phone that lets you set focus periods and have white noise playing in the background during them. These are basically increments of time that you can set to focus on a single task. It sounds simple, but I’ve found that if I start my day with a couple of 45 minute focus periods, with short breaks in between, it sets me up to stay focused for the whole day.
To help you know what tasks you should be focusing on, I’d recommend Wunderlist. It’s basically a supercharged checklist, with reminders and due dates you can set.
Finally, you need Freedom. Freedom lets you block yourself from visiting websites that you specify for a period of time.
I usually keep Facebook, Twitter, all news websites and Amazon blocked during work hours. You can also block by topic. Election 2016 was a pretty useful topic to block for me last year.

5. Be more literate.

We all make mistakes writing, especially when we’re knocking out a quick email. But little mistakes can change how someone perceives us, and can win us the derision of grammar geeks.
Grammarly makes a great free application that works on most applications automatically, so that whether you’re writing a tweet, an email, or a response to a customer chat from your website, you’ve got something looking over your shoulder that won’t make fun of you when you make a typo, but give you a little easy advice instead.

Ok, hoping those tips help you grow your business and make life a little easier for entrepreneurs and business owners.

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