Anyone working on maintaining an online business knows how notoriously cluttered it can get. There's never a shortage of emails to answer, receipts to file away, people to meet, and things to do. With so much going on, it's great to have a helping hand to get everything in place. Thanks to technology and innovation, there are several tools around the web that aim to do just that.
Here are five applications to help get your business organized:
For being little slips of paper, receipts have the uncanny ability to quickly overwhelm pant pockets, bags, and desks when left unchecked. If you feel like you're drowning in them, let Shoeboxed be your life raft. This application helps you turn your receipts into digital data by having you mail them in with a prepaid envelope, use one of their online or desktop uploaders, or take advantage of their free mobile apps. From there, Shoeboxed organizes them and posts them to your account complete with IRS accepted receipt images, making any expense reporting or tax prep as painless as possible.
Another added plus is that Shoeboxed can also help you organize your contacts. You can send them any business cards you get and have them turned into digital contact information. Once that's been done, you can either keep your contacts organized online or export that data into an email marketing program, or even your personal address book.
Shoeboxed has different account levels, with the DIY account being completely free. However, if your business needs more robust features like a Quickbooks integration or tax advice, then you can always upgrade. And if you're not 100% sure about switching to a paid plan, you can always take advantage of a 30-day free trial.
Remember the Milk
To-do lists can be great organizational tools, assuming you update them regularly and they don't get lost somewhere on your kitchen counter. With Remember the Milk, not only will their tool remember your list, but it'll make it as accessible as possible. Lists on Remember the Milk are accessible from the web, Android phones, iPhones, and Blackberries. They can also be integrated with your Evernote, Gmail, Google Calendar, and even Microsoft Outlook accounts (depending on the plan).
Another aspect of Remember the Milk is that their API allows anyone to write apps for them, which means as a user, you get access to a library of apps that can further customize and improve your experience. For example, there's an app for Android phones that lets you add tasks by speaking, and an app that allows for easy note taking and task adding on your Firefox browser.
Remember the Milk is free, but you have the option of upgrading to Pro for $25 a year should you want to test new features or use priority support.
We all know the effort and upkeep it takes to maintain a manageable inbox. With the number of emails sent every day, you can quickly find yourself spending all your free time parsing through mountains of unread messages. Sanebox is meant to help with that by determining how important every email is, filtering the unimportant messages into another folder, and summarizing them for you. Basically, this tool's aim is to put legitimate, but unimportant emails aside so they don't get in the way of your day, giving you ample time to focus on what's important.
Beyond that, it also comes with the ability to set up follow-up reminders that notify you when an email you sent was not replied to by a certain time, as well as the option of deferring an email so that it'll reappear back into your inbox when the time comes.
Unlike the other tools in this article, Sanebox only has paid plans. However, all of their plans give you the option of a two-week free trial.
It's the end of the day, and even though you got a lot done, you can't help but wonder where the time went. Well, with Yast, now you can. Yast is a time tracker app that will help you keep track of how much time you're spending on specific tasks and projects. Then, it compiles that information into a timeline, with tasks taking a short amount of time getting a shorter chunk of color and tasks taking a longer time getting a longer chunk of color. Whenever you're curious, you can glance at your timeline and see where you've spent your time.
You can organize your work in projects with specific tasks within each project that need to be completed, and Yast will automatically add the time spent on those tasks to show you the amount spent on that project.
Yast has three kinds of plans, with the Personal plan being completely free. Their Business plan, which allows for multiple users to share projects and see each other's' timelines, has a free trial.
Your trash can
This isn't really a "tool," but your trash recycling cans are a great help when it comes to getting organized. How? By reducing the amount of stuff that needs to be organized, you've made your job to get everything in line that much easier.
When cleaning off your desk or sorting through your inbox, get in the habit of immediately getting rid of anything you know you won't need. And remember, the more time you invest in reducing clutter, the more it'll show. Don't think it has to be all at once, though. If spending hours purging your old document folders isn't your ideal, try setting aside a small amount of time every day to work on it instead.
Organization may not be everyone's forte, but with the right tools, it can sure look like it. Have any other organizational tools that you use for your business? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below and let us know!