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Top 4 Small-Office Productivity Apps

Sometimes it seems like there’s an app for everything (Karaoke on the go? Mobile burrito location? Very real). At EasyTech, we’ve gone in a more valuable direction: the best apps for small-business productivity.

The EasyTech staff loves productivity apps. Lengthy water-cooler arguments break out over the best and most productive apps, which is a little counterintuitive, as app debates can last for hours around here. At the risk of sparking yet another two-hour water-cooler argument, here are a few apps that can turn your small business into a productivity powerhouse.

Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition software translates dictation into text. If, like certain EasyTech writers, you’re a three-fingered typist, voice recognition software takes the tediousness out of composing emails and documents. You simply talk, and the software does the typing for you.

In a rare moment of consensus, EasyTech staff all praised the accuracy of Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Dragon does an amazing job of accurately recognizing human speech. The program transcribes speech almost three times faster than typing. Add a wireless headset and you can dictate without being tied to your office chair.

Drop in on Dropbox

You’ve probably heard of Dropbox, but knowing about the cloud storage system and experiencing it are entirely different matters. Dropbox installs a folder on your desktop. Any files added to the folder are automatically backed up to the cloud. You can give other Dropbox users permission to access and modify documents in your Dropbox, making the app a useful collaboration tool.

A free Dropbox account comes with 2 GB of storage. Users can also pay $10 to $20 monthly subscription fees for 50 to 100 GB of secure storage space.

Accounting Software

For many home/small-business owners, accounting is a necessary evil. You have to track earnings, bill clients, and process payments, but your real talents probably lay in other areas.

Accounting software such as QuickBooks recognizes that not all business owners are accountants, and it crunches the numbers for you using intuitive, easy-to-read spreadsheets, and accounting templates. The less time you spend balancing the books, the more time you have left for business.

Small, Time-Saving Apps

Many of the apps used by EasyTech staff are small pieces of software designed to make office life easier and reduce the time spent performing mundane tasks. Note-taking apps rank high in popularity, especially if the app can synchronize over multiple devices and includes a search feature. We like Evernote, which works on most devices.

Password managers also made the list, despite being dismissed by one staff member with an annoyingly good memory. A good password manager stores all your passwords and usernames, protected by a single, highly secure password. The better password managers can fill in personal information on forms and generate random, high-security passwords as needed.

With the widespread use of instant messaging, many people find themselves juggling multiple IM accounts. Multichat apps such as Pidgin act as a central hub for instant messengers. Just enter your login information for AIM, Google Talk, and other IMs into the app, and the software lets you chat on different systems from a single window.

To-do trackers range from simple virtual sticky notes to highly sophisticated task-management software. Picking task-manager software requires an understanding of how you work. If you carefully plot out every minute of your day, an app with calendar, reminder, and alert functions may fit your needs, such as Get it Done or HiTask. If, however, you take a less structured view of your workday, a simple to-do list app, like Clear, should keep you on track. And that, essentially, is the definition of a productivity app: Any software that helps you focus on work and reduces the time you spend on routine tasks.

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