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Productivity tools executives say they can’t live without

Productivity tools keep people in the business world focused and ahead of the game, but every person’s toolbox is unique. Let’s take a peek.



Productivity tools that make the world go around

When you read about productivity tools, it is typically a list of slick apps and of course iPhones, but every professional in each industry is different, some relying on pen and paper, others swearing by email inbox tools. So we set out to ask a handful of leaders from various industries what productivity tools they can’t live without:

Scott Lerner, Founder of Solixir said, “E-mail is for sure a productivity tool for me. It allows me to work when and where I want. Without it I don’t know what I would do. To that end, my iPhone 5 is crucial to running the business. I can be away from the office and still get 85% of the things done I need to. Not to mention all the productivity apps.”

A walking toolbox

Benn Rosales, CEO and Founder of AGBeat favors Post-it notes at his desk, but is a walking toolbox filled with tech toys from his Google Chromebook, iPad mini, Microsoft Surface RT, HP TouchSmart desktop and Android HTC Evo, all of which keep him constantly connected. “Being equipped to communicate with anyone on any device or platform has been truly powerful – I make it easy for my team and partners to come to me.”

Rosales and his team rely heavily on Google tools (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Apps, G+ Hangouts, GCal, etc.) because they can be done on mobile and desktop, and he says he favors his Android because it allows him to use multiple Gmail accounts, which he uses to prioritize incoming emails, calling the ability to multi-task “epic” in comparison to his iPad.

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“I keep it simple – I email and text myself notes a lot, like if I need to schedule something or follow up.” He uses Skype on his Microsoft Surface RT and prefers to do all web development from his HP desktop, noting that Balsamiq “is definitely THE best tool for web design.” Three Chrome extensions he says he can’t live with are SEO Site Tools, Awesome Screenshot, and Firebug.

Super prioritization with the help of some tech

“I’m very big on prioritizing tasks,” says TakeLessons CEO Steven Cox. “The idea is, never work on a ‘B’ when you have an ‘A’ to work on, forget the ‘C’s! I use a system called ActiveInbox to manage my priority list. When an email comes in, I assign it a priority level, a due date and a project that it’s related to. From there, I do what I call 90 minute sprints.”

“For example,” Cox added, “today I want to work on my new investor presentation, so I’ll take 90 minutes, close my office door, close everything else down and pull up that project on ActiveInbox. My highest priority tasks are already sorted for me, so I’ll start on the A’s until they’re done, then I’ll work on the B’s and so on, straight through for 90 minutes. I get a lot of satisfaction from that because I know that even if I only get one task done, it’s my most critical task.”

Nell Merlino, Founder of Count Me In said she can’t live without her iPad, Blackberry (and says she’s ready to buy the Q), bicycle (noting that exercise is critical to productivity), and the Small Business Perfect Pitch App available on iTunes since she is “always pitching CMI and the benefits of being able to tell it so you can sell it.”

Getting ahead of the game

Email, smartphone, and GPS are the tools Iggy Fanlo, CEO of Lively says he can’t live without.

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Noelle Federico, CFO of DreamsTime said, “I am pretty sure that I cannot live without my iPhone and my Outlook Express and a good old fashioned notebook and number 2 pencil, even with all the tools out there I still derive great satisfaction from keeping a written “to-do” list in a spiral bound notebook—there is something satisfying about crossing items off the list.”

“As the CEO of a growing startup, you can imagine the plethora of activities happening on a daily basis,” said RiseSmart Founder and CEO Sanjay Sathe. “Being ahead of the game is critical. I use Outlook for a number of things. I classify emails into different categories like “Immediate,” “Can Wait” and “Read.” I also use the To Do list in order to keep track of what needs to get done across all functional areas of my company. On a more personal note, I use Fitbit and MyFitnessPal to keep track of personal productivity – in this case my health.”

iPhone, iPhone, iPhone

Paul Aitken, CEO of borro said, “Without a doubt, it has to be my iPhone and access to my email when I’m on the move.”

Donna Horton Novitsky, CEO of Yiftee is also hooked on her cell phone (iPhone or Android), her laptop, and we were pleased to hear her say that her microwave oven also keeps her productive! How refreshingly honest.

Nancy A. Aossey, President and CEO of International Medical Corps said the productivity tool she can’t live without is a daily To Do list. “Also, constant BlackBerry, iPad and phone communications. I continue to rely on my paper calendar, which is backed up electronically. I still use paper since I like to see the month and year quickly spread out in front of me in a way that electronic calendars don’t do. We use Skype heavily, connecting our headquarters and field offices around the world, as well as online information sharing tools and intranet programs.”

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Everyone has a different regimen to keep them focused – tell us in the comments that productivity tools you can’t live without.

Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.



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