Tech Tools To Boost Your Business
Written by Rebecca Broad – Communications Freelancer
If I asked you to guess what I spend an average of 7 hours and 56 minutes a day doing, what would be your answer? Sleeping is probably the only obvious answer but is, sadly, incorrect. The truth? I spend nearly 8 hours per day looking at a screen.
I only know this thanks to my phone’s screen time capability, which pairs with my laptop to tot up everything from how many times a day I pick up my mobile (I’m currently on an average of ninety-one) to how many hours I spend on ‘social networking’ (nearly 42 hours over the past week).
Considering most people work a 9 to 5, and mobile social media working is literally what my clients pay me to do, these stats shouldn’t be so surprising. Yet it’s still mind-boggling. I spend a third of my life looking at a screen! That would not be the case half a lifetime ago.
Now, my time is precious. I should only be using a screen if I really want or need to. There are lots of other important things to do, like walk around the Exeter Cathedral Christmas market for the 84th time, so my screen usage must be efficient.
Bearing that in mind, I’ve collected some of my favourite tech tools that I use across devices to boost my business, in the hope that they might do the same for you too. I’m avoiding all the obvious ones like social media platforms, because everyone knows about those. I’ve also included a sneaky insider tip for each one to help you get the most out of the tools that I use. Let’s dive in!
Signing up for Grammarly is basically like having a little proof-reader in your devices. Personally, I use the free browser extension. Grammarly scans everything you’re writing and flags up any mistakes in its punctuation, spelling, and word choice. Goodbye awkward tweet mistakes: that edit button is years off yet, my friends.
Insider tip: Read the whole of your weekly progress report. This email might end up in your spam, but it’s worth fishing out. It’s pretty cool to read “you used more unique words than 95% of Grammarly users” (hey, I’m a writer, things like that get me excited), but what’s actually useful is when Grammarly identifies your top 3 grammar mistakes, along with a handy link to learn more about each one. Bring on better writing!
This very simple tool from, you guessed it, Google, sends you emails when a new result shows up in Google search. I prefer the daily update setting, so I only get a roundup every 24 hours. This is great for learning more about a topic or finding content to share with your network, but I know businesses who use it to track what their competitors are up to…
Insider tip: Avoid alerts for really popular words, like marketing, because there will be thousands of results a day and one email wrap-up won’t cover it with balance. Equally, don’t set overly precise phrases, like new multimedia inbound marketing tool, because you’ll rarely get anything. Find a happy medium which reflects the niche of content that you want to read about.
This super-easy graphic design tool will have you creating branded infographics and beautiful images for social media in no time. You can create a brand kit, use simple templates, and easily share with team members. No need for the big guns like Adobe Suite’s Photoshop for smaller daily tasks that Canva can handle.
Insider tip: Use Canva to pretty-up longer documents like user guides, letterheads and brochures; not just social media posts.
“Where DOES the time go?!” Well, now you know. Use this tracking app across desktop and mobile to time your business activities. You can group into clients and projects, and create reports to export.
Insider tip: Draw a pie chart of how you want to spend your working time. Then compare it against the pie chart of how Toggl says you actually spend your working time, and make changes so that the latter looks more like the former.
Forget to-do lists on post-its, reminders on your phone, and even project workflows mapped out on the office blackboard. This task management tool handles them all and more. It works beautifully on both desktop and mobile. Honestly: without this platform, my life would be broken. It’s on permanent pin tab in my browser, with a separate project for each client and one for personal jobs, too.
Insider tip: Install Asana for Gmail from GSuite Marketplace to sync your emails with your task lists.
Ok, bear with me here. The little cog icon isn’t exactly the most groundbreaking of tech tools, but it’s probably the most powerful. It can change your relationship with your devices. All of the statistics above (reminder: I spend a third of my life looking at a screen, and so do you, probably) come from someone who has made multiple efforts to reduce screen time. Ensure your phone, laptop, tablet, watch or whatever is there to actually make your life – and your business life – easier and simpler.
Insider tip: Just turn all notifications and alerts off for everything. At this very second. Go on, I dare you. Now, take a minute to think about what is worth your immediate, urgent attention. Do you need to be told when a Facebook friend tags you in a meme? Is incoming email so important that it has to appear at the top right of your screen and interrupt what you’re doing? Or can everything wait until you check it? Only turn on the notifications for what truly deserves your eyeballs. For me, that’s phone calls, texts, and WhatsApp messages, plus client social medias when I’m working on them.
If there’s an emergency, someone will ring me. Everything else can wait.