Fotolia_21891768_XSIn my line of business, I often get recommendations for fun and useful office productivity tools.  While I always suggest reviewing your vision, needs, personality and work environment before choosing a new tool or system, it is often helpful to see and hear what works for others.  Below, I share a few of my personal favorites as a small business-owner.

1. Microsoft Outlook: While this may seem pretty basic and not so unique, I don't know what I would do without it.  I currently use Outlook for email, calendar, task and contact management.  The ease of use and customization allow me to stay on track on a daily basis.  And, all of it syncs with my mobile phone so keeping it all up to date while away from the office is much simpler.  If Outlook isn't the right solution for you, there are many others that will give similar results.

2. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 for PC
I hope you aren't tired of hearing about this scanner yet. I have been recommending it quite a bit the past few months to my readers and clients as I am finding that many of you are wanting to move towards a paperless environment at home and/or the office. This month I finally purchased my own.  Yes, I am moving towards paperless and can't wait! (for Mac, purchase Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M for Mac)

3. Extra computer screen: I remember many years ago when I worked in a large company and we made fun of those "techies" with more than one computer.  Now, I am one of them and I love it.  While I use two computers (a desktop and a laptop) when I work, you can get the same benefits with an extra computer screen attached to your laptop or desktop computer.  While I don't normally recommend multi-tasking, having two screens is beneficial on many occasions.  For example, when watching a webinar on one computer, I can type notes on my laptop.  I can do research on one computer while entering important information or copying and pasting to the other.  Or, I can look at an account number on one computer while typing it in on the other.  These are just a few of the many benefits I have found.

4. iPEP (interactive-Productive Environment Platform) I cannot detail all of the benefits I have found by using this cloud collaboration system in one newsletter, but following is just one example: I am in the process of leading the creation of a new service offering with several of my colleagues.  We are using iPEP, a cloud-based storage and collaboration system, to communicate and share information while working together to create the final product.  Without iPEP, my email inbox would have been overflowing, I would have been doing a lot of additional work to upload their documents and slideshows (versus each person uploading their own information to our workspace), and would have had a much harder time keeping track of the logistics.  I estimate it has saved me at least a day of work with this particular project.  There are any other options for cloud collaborations sytems so everyone should be able to find one to fit their needs.

5. Pandora: I have a recent client to thank for this particular suggestion. Pandora is an online music system that allows you to enter a favorite artist or band.  Then, using The Music Genome Project®, Pandora will scan its library of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings, to find songs with musical similarities to your choice. Studies have shown that the right kind of music can help to motivate, energize or relax a person.  Depending on your current mood and musical taste, choose music that will help you to be more productive while you work. Not sure which music is right for your mood? See what The Experience Project recommends for you.

There are many more tools I'd love to share (including McAfee Anti-Virus Software, WD Backup for backing up my hard drive, and Mailchimp, the system I am using to create this newsletter), but I'll save those for a future newsletter.  I'd love to hear about the office systems and tools you can't live without!

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