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This article was updated in February, 2017 to accurately represent currently available options.
Raise your hands if you think redundant tasks suck. Invoicing clients, accounting, time-tracking — these are some of the tasks which have little or no impact on the end result; usually they serve to help somebody else (the client, the taxman, et cetera).
But they have to be done, and since time equals money, it’s important that we don’t waste too much time on redundant tasks.
Let’s take a look at the best dashboards, templates and apps that can help us complete redundant tasks quickly but thoroughly.
Business Planning and Projections
- Unfunnel: a free Microsoft Excel template to help you strategise your startup. It outlines objectives, customer growth and retention, brand awareness, value proposition and so on.
- Databox: an app to help you keep on top of your business KPIs wherever you are. Alternatively, you can learn how to make your own KPI dashboards at the Excel Dashboard School.
- If you think Excel is a little outdated but Databox isn’t for you or your business, Klipfolio, Grow and Geckoboard are some other alternatives.
- If you are an Excel fan, My Excel Templates, ExInFm or Excel Models will have what you want — everything from cash flow to valuation model to financial forecasting to risk assessment — break even analysis, SWOT templates, I could go on forever.
- Entrepreneur is probably the internet’s most concise list of high-quality business templates, ranging from Contractor Agreements to NDAs, and Employee Review Sheets to Cease and Desist Letters.
- Office Timeline is a PowerPoint add-on that lets you you create Gantt charts and timelines, helping you manage projects in a highly-visual way.
- If you’re also a student, you can use Basecamp for free — the ultimate project management tool, especially if you’re a large company wanting to avoid having random spreadsheets scattered around company servers. Asana comes in as a close second. Zoho is another free alternative.
- Trello’s card-based system is terrific for managing smaller projects; incredibly versatile as well.
- Wrike may be more suitable if your team needs to focus more on marketing than anything else.
- It’s literally impossible to list all of the best project management apps here — Capterra will help you find the right app for you and your company.
- For quick n’ dirty templates, Vertex42 might serve your needs — it has a range of templates like calendars, time cards, budgeting, Gantt charts and timelines.
- If you’re looking for prettier spreadsheets, try searching on Excel Online where you can directly view and edit them in the browser.
Invoicing and Financials
- Need to create an invoice now? Aynax offers an on-demand invoicing service — simply fill it out online and hit the “Print” button. Invoiced is another alternative.
- If you need to invoice regularly and save those invoices in a central location, I would recommend Invoicely. I’ve been using Invoicely since it was called Invoicable, and setting up clients/invoicing is a breeze. It’s free, but you can upgrade for additional features if you like.
- Wave’s invoices are probably the most beautiful, and best of all it’s 100% free (including credit card payments). You only pay for premium features like payroll.
- If you’re self-employed or you run a small business and you need to track invoices for tax reasons, an accounting suite with invoicing built-in might be better — Freshbooks is very popular, and they also have their own free invoice maker.
- For one-off financial templates, check out Score, which includes Balance Sheets, Break-Even Analysis, Profit and Loss Projections and so on.
- Again, lots of straight-up templates to choose from via MS Online, if all else fails!
Note: this section kind-of crosses over with Business Planning and Projection, so make sure you don’t miss it. I mention a lot of downloadable Excel templates that can help record financials.
- Slides Carnival: stunning, free templates for PowerPoint and Google Slides.
- Slidebean: brilliant for slideshows that need a beautiful, fresh visual style.
- Emaze: suitable for slides that need GIF’s, video media or live data. Very modern and impressive.
- As always, Microsoft Online is a suitable backup.
Tip: most PowerPoint templates can be opened in Google Slides!
Marketing and Sales
- HubSpot: free templates for marketers such as editorial calendars, social media calendars, written content templates, e-book templates, press releases, email templates and other visual marketing templates — this is a well-curated list!
- Plan out your marketing with these niche-specific templates by Mplans.
- Not the best looking, but when you need a quick n’ dirty marketing template, such as a marketing budget template, marketing research template or social media strategy template, TidyForms will do.
- Buffer: a super-easy way to manage your social media marketing and schedule your content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and even Instagram. Hootsuite is an epic alternatives that allows you to analyse metrics.
- Google Analytics is and always has been a great free way to analyse customer behaviour and website traffic.
Personal Organisation and Planning
- Wunderlist is the ultimate tool for keeping your life in sync. Not a day has gone by in 3 years when I haven’t used Wunderlist to keep track of my to-do’s!
- Google Calendar helps you plan your time with great cross-platform mobile apps. If you don’t mind paying, Fantastical is the #1 calendar app and winner of the Apple Design Award.
- Due: combines incredibly detailed time-tracking and invoicing into a single app.
- Timely is another modern time-tracker with a useful free tier.
- MyFitnessPal: the easiest way to keep track of your calorie intake and overall health.
Do you need, but can’t find, or want to recommend something on this list? Let us know in the comments — maybe we can help!