Five must-have time management web services for small businesses

Work smart, not hard.

Efficiency is a key ingredient to any recipe for success, and time management is a vital component of efficiency. These days, lives revolve around the clock, and it's everybody's goal to squeeze the most out of every minute. To accomplish this, small businesses should rely on affordable, web-based services that will minimize manual effort and maximize time savings.

For this, Techvibes turned to Arash Shiva, co-founder of Vanouver startup OpenCal, for some of their favourite services of the sort. We cover five core areas of time management: to-do lists, project management, time tracking, invoicing, and - OpenCal's specialty -online appointment scheduling.

1. To-do lists. Everybody has at least one to-do list on the go at any given time, if not several. Managing these on one's computer is more efficient than filling pockets with unsorted, crumpled, ink-stained notes. "Things" is OpenCal's recommended solution. It's Mac only for computers, but is also available for the iPhone and iPad, making it a widely accessible portable service. PC users may want to try Backpack.

2. Project Management. This is about as essential as you get. A project without sufficient management is an almost guaranteed failure. Fortunately, there are lots of options: SocialCast, whose slogan is aptly succinct: "Collaboration made simple." Or, the wide-open, cross-everything Redmine, which runs on Ruby on Rails. Alternatively, you can create an enterprise portal for free at TeamLab, or Huddle with your team to get things done. There's plenty of project management assistance to go around - now somebody just has to do the project itself!

3. Time tracking. Now that you've got your project outlined, and it's at the top of your to-do list, it's time to get to work. While working, though, many small businesses and freelancers need to track their time for work input - either for their client's eventual invoice, their own personal gauges, or both. Most people are aware that the brilliant Freshbooks has time tracking services now, which is OpenCal's recommendation, but for variety there is also Harvest, starting at $12 per month.

4. Invoicing. You've scratched off the project from your to-do list and punched the clock. Now comes the good stuff - getting paid! Well, soon anyway. First you have to send the invoice. Obviously, there is again the famous Freshbooks as a capable invoicing solution. But Ballpark, developed by Victoria's own MetaLab Design, is an alternative worth a look - it has monthly plans starting as low as $6 and may make more financial sense for those caught awkwardly between Freshbook's free and entry-level paid subscription.

5. Scheduling appointments. It's back to the beginning: add to your to-do list that you've got to stage some meetings with potential clients for that next big project. Do so with Vancouver's own OpenCal, a well designed online appointment scheduling service for businesses.

Now, you're well equipped to tackle time and win. You can thank us later - just put it on your to-do list so you don't forget.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

OpenCal enables online appointment booking and scheduling for service businesses. Businesses place a "Book Now" button on their website or use the included free website to begin converting more visitors into customers with the convenience of 24/7 online appointment booking. OpenCal's fast and flexible web application includes a drag-and-drop staff calendar, client tracking through an integrated... more

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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