If you’re managing a small business, or a cheese counter at a larger business, chances are you have so many things on your to do list that it’s a bit overwhelming. Between hunting out new products, making sure that your weekly distributor order got in on time, finding and training employees, and payroll, it can be hard to remember the fun parts of the job that are why you got into the business of mongering to begin with. Since it can be impossible to keep every important detail and task in your head, and the Post-Its everywhere system isn’t working out well, we thought we’d share a few tools that can help you get organized and allow you to spend more time on the the parts of your business you love (and less on sorting Post-Its).
If you’ve never heard of Trello, you’re not alone. The web app only officially split off as its own company and launched a non-beta version in 2014. But it has been instantly successful, catching on with everyone from The New York Times to Kickstarter to brides planning their weddings to us here at culture.
Trello is an online tool for managing projects and tasks, which, when said simply, means that Trello is a tool that takes the idea of a list and let’s you scale that list up, add to it from anywhere, and share that list with others who can help you check items off of it. Good-bye sticky notes! In practice, when you sign up for Trello what you get is something like a cross between a to do list and a Pinterest board. You create boards (these can represent projects, clients, etc.) and add lists (for example “Planning,” “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done.”) and cards (items such as “rotate stock” or “plan June schedule”) to those boards. On each card you can do the following things:
- Set due dates
- Create checklists
- Upload files
- Assign to team members
What’s the advantage? There are several. The first is that Trello is collaborative. You can easily invite co-workers to the app and assign tasks to them. The second is that Trello is cross platform, which means that as you go around your shop and notice that, say, you’re running low on that popular raclette, you can whip out your phone and add a card reminding yourself to place an order for it. The final advantage is that Trello can help keep longer-term projects from being forgotten. I used to transfer my long term projects from one list of note to the next until finally I would get frustrated and just forget about them. With Trello you can create a checklist with small, easy-to-complete steps and break a daunting project down into manageable bites.
You’ve probably heard of Evernote, and maybe you’ve even used it as an individual, but a lot of folks dismiss Evernote as a simple note-taking app, which missed out on a lot of its use. Evernote is cross-platform, which means it can be on your desktop, your phone, your tablet, etc. It can act as a note taking tool, but it can also do some of the same stuff Trello does, such as task and project management, to do list, and—possibly most useful of all—filing system.
If you run a blog for your small business, Evernote can be a lifesaver. Why? It allows you to easily save articles from the Internet, emails, and even hand-written notes in a way that makes them easy to find and sort through later. If you’re a busy person who needs to blog for business, this is invaluable. Just jot down notes as ideas come to you, save articles or emails that you think might be easily converted into a post, and then once a week sit down and turn all those things into a post or two for your company’s website. Without a tool like Evernote, your precious 30 minutes of blogging time each week can easily turn into 30 minutes of wondering what on earth you were planning to blog about.
In addition to being your personal blogging assistant, Evernote is a fantastic resource for note taking. If you need to document items for inventory, what you learned at a session at the American Cheese Society’s annual conference, or what you thought of a new cheese you just tasted, Evernote can help with that. Because it’s available on pretty much any device you might have with you, you don’t need to worry about carrying a specific notebook or anything like that.
If you have an Android phone or tablet or are a Gmail user, you might want a tool that easily integrates with what you’ve already got. Enter Google Keep. Google Keep has actually been around for years, but for some reason it never got a lot of notice. I’m not sure it’s better than Trello or Evernote, but if you’re already a Google user it has a lot going for it. Google Keep is basically a notepad (sound familiar?) but what makes it so handy is that it syns with Google Drive. It can keep track of written notes, photos, audio clips, and checklists and once those notes are saved onto Google Drive you can access them on any other device you’ve got connected to the Internet.
The thing that really sets Google Keep apart from most other note taking apps or project management tools is the fact that it can save audio clips. If you’re often up to your elbows in cheese, it can be super handy for taking a quick “note” without gunking up your phone. It’s also one of the easiest to learn apps, which makes it a great choice for busy folks who don’t have a lot of tech background.
The final app I’ll discuss today is Pushbullet. simply put, Pushbullet connects all of your devices, computers, phones, tablets, and makes it so you can use them pretty much interchangeably. Left your phone in another room while working on the computer? Don’t worry, your calls and texts can be pushed to the computer so you won’t accidentally miss a delivery. Need to reference a document that’s saved on your computer, but you only have your phone? No problem, you can download that file with Pushbullet.
The biggest concern I had when I started using Pushbullet was that it would make me a workaholic. Sometimes I want to be on my computer and NOT get alerted to every notification on my phone. Fortunately, you can “snooze” Pushbullet or disable it whenever you want.
Unlike the other apps listed here, Pushbullet won’t help you or your team to become organized. However, it can help you stay organized and up to date even if your job requires you to constantly switch between devices.