Not so long ago, when virtually all work product was cranked out the hard way – without automation or electronic gadgetry – performance standards and expectations were a lot different. Communication moved by interoffice mail, or snail mail, or telephone if you could catch someone at their desk. Expectations were modest. The pace of work was slow. People closed up shop at the end of the workday and were “off duty” in the evenings and on weekends. Work was what you did to pay the bills and for most people, the sooner you were done the better.

Well, have times changed! These days there are loads of devices, gadgets and online services to help us get things done faster and more easily. But the changes brought by all this technology haven’t been what most people expected. Instead of gaining more leisure time, we’ve upped our output and performance expectations. The pace of work is approaching warp speed and the distinction between work and leisure time is no longer clear.

Now this troubles a great many people. But for entrepreneurs, who choose the work we do, work isn’t just a means to pay the bills. Work is the way we express our talents, the way we serve an audience we feel connected with. We find the accelerated pace of business exhilarating and exciting. We take pleasure in our work and in finding new ways to do new things that enrich our work experience and serve our clients better. We love learning about new devices, gadgetry and systems to get more done and have more fun doing it!

Here are a few of my own favorites:

Dragon Naturally Speaking: Speech recognition software that types as you speak. You can create and edit documents and emails quickly and easily. You can imagine how much time this saves!
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Desktop Scanner: Fast, compact and easy-to-use digital scanner. Processes and archives all your paper documents, receipts and business cards. If you’ve been thinking about transitioning to a paperless office, this is what you need.
Evernote: Software and mobile app that lets you to capture any kind of information you want using whatever device or platform you have at hand. You can add items by keyboard, handwriting, scanner, camera or voice. Notes are automatically synchronized across platforms and devices, and can be organized and searched from any device. This can change your life!
Paper Tiger: Revolutionary document management software and filing system designed to eliminate many of the problems of traditional filing systems. Promises you can find any item in your office in five seconds or less. They have certified experts to help get your current files transferred.
LogMeIn: Provides remote access to your primary computer at home or in the office from any Web-enabled device. No need to print extra copies of important files or email them to yourself when you’re away.
Dropbox: Synchronizes documents, photos, videos, etc. across all your devices. You can also share folders with others whom you specify. Access your information from anywhere!
Google Docs: Online document storage that allows you to collaborate in real-time with others and access your information from any computer. So much easier when you’re working with others and need everyone to have the latest version – literally, everyone’s on the same page!

Any one of these would be a great addition to your productivity toolbox. Try the ones you haven’t used yet. They’ll probably help you finish the tasks you usually do in less time. Or they’ll help you get more done in the same amount of time. They’re all fun and easy to use – and some of them are free!

If you love a good software program, app, or gadget that makes your work easier and more fun, please go to the Smart Solos Facebook page and share your favorites!

Author's Bio: 

If you’re a smart solopreneur – someone who’s an expert in your field but still figuring out how to run a business – you should know Elaine Quinn, The Solopreneur Specialist. Elaine is a small business consultant who is tuned in to the needs of people like you. A solo professional herself for more than 10 years, she also draws on 25 years prior management experience in Fortune 100 companies to help you find solutions to whatever’s bothering you about your business. Elaine’s consulting and coaching is customized to zero in on exactly what you want (and need) help with. Visit her website at and get your free copy of her ebook!