The best apps to help you be productive

Being productive means getting the important things done in the time that you have. Here’s the best apps to help you. 
We need all the help we can get to be productive in today’s world of instant communication and constant distractions. Being productive means getting the important things done in the time that you have. So let’s look at some apps that can help you stay on track and save some valuable time.
There are hundreds of productivity apps out there. If we are not careful, we can be unproductive trying out lots of different ones. Here, we present apps we have tried and tested to save you valuable time.
Most of these apps or software have a “fremium” version that provides basic functionality. This allows you test out the app before paying for more advanced features.
Google Keep
A great app for making lists or keeping ideas and notes. Effectively a digital post-it pad on your phone or laptop. Google Keep is an option on the share menu so it lets you save a clickable link to an article or website to read later, helping you manage your time and stay focused.
If This, Then That (IFTTT) can automate the routine jobs you do or possibly forget to do. It can connect between different apps or programmes based on a ‘recipe’ which is a simple list of instructions you create. An action or event in one app can trigger a task completion in the other. Here are some examples:

Mute your phone in meetings by automatically setting your Android phone to silent according to your Google Calendar appointments.
Track your work hours for a client by setting the location to automatically note your arrival and departure time in Google Calendar.

Try it out – the possibilities are endless and only limited by your own imagination.
This is collaboration tool

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A short GDPR guide for small businesses

Are you concerned about the GDPR? If you do not have an up-to-date privacy policy on your website, you may attract an audit from the DPC which could lead to a fine.  
What is the ‘GDPR’?
The General Data Protection Regulation is an EU law that came into effect on May 25, 2018 applying across all EU member states including Ireland in order to protect and safeguard the privacy rights of individuals.
Who does GDPR apply to?
In essence, it is difficult to think of a business that GDPR does not apply to because in order to do business most organisations need to collect personal data. GDPR applies to any individual or organisation that processes personal data so if you have a ‘Contact Us’ page on your website for individuals to submit their details, then you are collecting (and therefore processing) their personal data.
The GDPR does not just apply to large companies but also individuals, SMEs, not-for-profit organisation and community groups.
There is little difference in the application of the GDPR whether you are a large company, a SME or an individual. Very few exemptions under the GDPR apply to SMEs, one example would be that you may not be required to keep records of processing activities if you have 250 or less employees (depending on the type of personal data that you process). Apart from that, there are few differences in the application of the regulations based on the size of an organisation.
“Personal data may be held by an organisation in various forms such as emails, or CCTV recordings of individuals.”
What is ‘personal data’ and ‘processing’?
‘Personal data’ is any data that relates to an identifiable living individual. The definition of ‘processing’ of personal data is very wide and includes collecting, recording, storing, adapting, using, disclosing and deleting data.
Therefore, an organisation is ‘processing’ personal

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Will robots change the marketing industry?

How will artificial intelligence (AI) change the future of marketing and communications? Will it lead to the loss of jobs or will it improve performance and productivity, allowing humans to shake off all mundane tasks and be more creative?

Here we talk to Paul Conneally, EMEA marketing lead at the software company LiveTiles, about how intelligent automation can transform the way marketers do their work.
Robots can go deeper
Artificial intelligence has come a long way since the days it was merely the subject of sci-fi novels and dystopian, post-apocalyptic, movies. Machine learning, neural networks, big data processing have set to change the way we live and communicate. It is true that Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa remind us nothing of the blood-thirsty cyborgs in Hollywood’s popular representations, but how deep can AI infiltrate into our daily decisions and activities? And how will this affect industries like marketing and communications, for which deep customer insights are becoming more imperative than ever?
“The AI canvas is essentially built around prediction, judgement and action. This is aligned with how strategic communications and marketing are organised. The future of marketing lies at the granular level of identity-based engagement, and AI will be the great enabler that will drive this,” says Conneally.
“We conduct research or analyse data to predict or influence behaviours and deliver on specific goals; we make judgements based on this evidence-based information which we then shape into the action we will take to achieve these desired goals. Communications, PR and marketing are taken up with repetitive, rudimentary tasks that can be so easily automated, such as the updating of directories, pitching stories or localising content,” he explains.
“Professionals will concentrate on what matters most, like relationship building, strategy and design.”
Conneally says that with more and more tasks handed over to AI, as it increasingly learns and

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‘The future of work is flexible’

Are you tired of the long commute? The Hatch Lab in Gorey is to host an event to discuss the future of work and why remote working benefits businesses and their people.

Event in Hatch Lab on 1st of February to explore the future of work
Remote working benefits businesses, people and local economies
78% of businesses have implemented some form of remote working policy
Over 200,000 remote workers in Ireland
Roughly 2,500 people commute out of Wexford every day for work
Access to talent is the biggest challenge for Irish SMEs

On February 1, Gorey will host a major flexible working event at the HatchLab. The event, sponsored by Bank of Ireland, will help businesses, big and small, understand how they can implement flexible working policies to benefit them and their staff, and thus support talent acquisition and retention.
Long and stressful daily commutes affect not just workers but also their employers. Business owners are increasingly willing to encourage remote working as it has a positive impact on productivity, profitability, staff morale, recruitment and talent retention.
“By 2025, remote working will rival fixed office locations.”
“Flexible working also benefits the wider society and local communities,” says Emer Cooney, event organiser. “There are 200,000 remote workers in Ireland, and this number is growing rapidly. In Wexford alone, almost 2,500 people commute out of the county every day. Allowing even a proportion of these commuters to work within the county would reduce work-related stress, and benefit the local economy by redirecting spending towards local retailers and businesses. It would also alleviate traffic congestion on major routes, and reduce carbon emissions and air pollution, which are key state priorities.”
“Organisations that don’t offer flexibility will lose talent.”
Isolation doesn’t have to be an issue
For remote workers, the key challenge of working from home can be isolation. This has driven the emergence of a multitude

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How to master the 5/55 email strategy

If you can master email rather than letting it master you, you’ll have more time to grow your business.
Email can be great for serving customers and listening to their needs. However, it can also drain time and energy and distract business owners and entrepreneurs.
Email is generally the source of most customer queries. How can you stay on top of things without email distracting you from the other work that needs to get done?
Reactive mode
Mobile phones allow us to respond to any message anytime, anywhere. But increasingly our mobile phone notifications are driving our agenda for the day. How many days have you set out a plan, then worked non-stop all day only to finish with none of your intended tasks done?
Constant notifications from email and other social media apps cause constant distractions from the work we plan to do.
Deep thinking
Tasks like writing quotes or proposals require a deep level of concentration. To get this level of focus, we need to work uninterrupted.
The statistics on our ability to focus are alarming. If we are distracted by a notification, it can take up to 23 minutes to get back to the same level of focus (Ref1). And this occurs even if we only switch away for 30 seconds.
Business owners are great multitaskers and get lots of things done. But this research shows that the quality of decision-making and creativity is really diminished. It can be viewed as skimming rather than genuinely working.
Try something new
Email is generally the biggest distracter so let’s look at a strategy to take control.
There is no point in telling business owners to work with their notifications switched off. How about a strategy that allows you to stay in touch throughout the day while gaining uninterrupted time every hour for deep-thinking productive work?
“Think of what you can achieve in

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Designing an effective CSR strategy

There is a new movement looking at how CSR budgets can be spent more effectively.
It seems like businesses today are getting better and better at tracking return on investment. This is especially true when it comes to investing in IT infrastructure, training, or sales and marketing spend.
What is still largely unexplored territory, however, is tracking return on investment around corporate social responsibility spend, or CSR.
But there is a new movement toward looking at how this budget could be spent more effectively.
To be clear, CSR involves more than donations. It can encompass everything from employee safety, training, childcare, education and healthcare to environmental efforts and even taking stances on political and social issues.
The 2018 Deloitte Millennials Survey shows a new generation of workers with a different expectation of their employer. They expect businesses they work for to have a more significant social impact, and this has an effect on loyalty and productivity.
So building trust with employees through CSR efforts is an increasing area of focus but also requires a delicate balance. These efforts can often be criticised as either insincere or not going far enough.
“It makes sense to give where you can help the highest number of people, to the greatest degree with your money.”
Effective CSR
One Irish company recently set up with the mission to make improvements in this area, is ‘Effective CSR’.
The business concept of Effective CSR is based on the model of Effective Altruism, a philosophy which has grown out of think tanks in Oxford University and in essence is about applying an investment mindset to the world of doing good. If you are going to donate some money to charity, then according to Effective Altruism at least, it makes sense to give where you can help the highest number of people, to the greatest degree with your money.

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The ThinkBusiness Brexit Hub

Are you prepared for Brexit? Do you need support and guidance? If so, help is at hand.
As the UK prepares to depart from the EU, Irish SMEs must prepare for the consequences of Brexit. Irish businesses need to understand and manage the risks of Brexit to their businesses, while also making sure they have access to finance. The tools below will help you prepare for, and manage, risks. 
Cash flow planner
Make sure your business has enough cash flow in the next few years. Use this free cash flow template to prepare for any market changes.
Sensitivity analysis template
This brilliant tool allows you to show the possible impacts that market changes will have on your business plan and your cash flow. It’s free to download and is an essential tool to help you deal with Brexit.
A sales forecast template
Another great tool that will help you prepare for Brexit is this sales forecast template. Remember, it’s best to prepare for change. Please don’t wait to react to it.
A brilliant business plan template
It is always a good idea to revisit your business plan and prepare a new one in light of Brexit. This excellent template is free to download and use.
The Brexit Loan Scheme
This is a €300 million loan fund made available to eligible firms in Ireland as they face into Brexit. The money will be lent at a fixed rate of 4%, the most affordable rate on the market. Apply now.

Related Resource

Prepare for Brexit
This is Bank of Ireland’s Brexit centre where you will find excellent analysis and advice from market specialists. 

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What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT is probably the most popular analysis tool in business. It’s easy to create and helps to write a business plan. 
If there was a competition to find the most popular analysis tool in business, chances are that a SWOT would be the winner by a big margin.  It’s used by training consultants, facilitators and consultants as well as the people involved in startups, family businesses and major corporations.
Users love its simplicity and how it can be used to inform the content of a business plan, the creation of a new product or service or a decision on whether or not to enter into a new market.
So what is a SWOT analysis?
SWOT is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
Strengths and weaknesses tend to focus on internal factors such as products or services, brands, prices, costs, profits, performance, people, skills and infrastructure.
Opportunities and threats should be externally focused and centre on markets, customers, sectors, audience, trends, competitors, economic and social factors, among a host of other factors.
Strengths need to be better than a competitor’s. Weaknesses need also to use competitors as a point of comparison but also a business’s ability to pursue a particular opportunity. It is often helpful to analyse strengths and weaknesses from a number of perspectives – those involved in the business (owners, staff), customers and competitors.
Opportunities should offer a business a chance to grow, become more profitable and/or otherwise enhance its market position. They should be realistic and not too aspirational. Threats are scenarios that could be damaging to a business through decreased sales, higher costs, loss of competitiveness or a host of other factors.
How is a SWOT created?
Very simply. Gather a group or a team together. Nominate one member of the group to facilitate and use a flipchart and markers. Brainstorm the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and

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This is why you need a Power of Attorney

Most people are very familiar with the concept of a Will – a legal document which sets out your wishes as to how your assets are dealt with following your death.
But what if you would like someone to carry our your wishes, or act on your behalf while you are still alive? This is the concept of the Power of Attorney.
In Ireland, there are two types
In Ireland, there are two types of Power of Attorney. The first is a simple “Power of Attorney” and the second is an “Enduring Power of Attorney”.
“In its simplest terms, an Enduring Power of Attorney is where you appoint one or two persons to look after your affairs.”
What do they mean?
In certain transactions (for example property transactions), you may be asked to execute a “Power of Attorney”. This is a legal document where you give another person the power to act on your behalf (your “Attorney”) in all or certain elements of a particular transaction. Usually, these permissions are limited in scope or time – such as the power to execute a document on your behalf in a certain transaction only or, alternatively, to execute documents for you for a defined period. These Powers of Attorney either expire or come to an end if you become mentally incapacitated.
“An Enduring Power of Attorney is that it can only be put in place while you have the mental capacity to do so.”
On the other hand, in its simplest terms, an Enduring Power of Attorney is a document in which you appoint one or two persons to look after your affairs, in the event that you are medically diagnosed as incapable of doing so, at some point in the future.
The important thing to note about an Enduring Power of Attorney is that it can only be put in place

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