The Tools and Apps I Use to Stay Organized
It's no secret that it can be really tough, nearly impossible for some people, to stay organized when you are starting a business or running a side hustle while working full-time. Keeping track of everything that's going on and optimizing your procedures is an integral part of being an entrepreneur and an effective lady boss! So, I thought I would share some of my favorite tools and apps for staying organized and getting everything done.
Tools to Organize
This is a collaboration tool that focuses on project and task management. I love using Asana because it let's me create different "Projects" for each of my freelance clients and side hustles so that I can keep them all separated. Like a normal task app, it let's you assign a task to a person, in a specific project, with a due date. You can also create sub-tasks which is a convenient way to check to-dos off your list as you get them done. I have a task for "Blog Post" and the sub-tasks nested within that include every step necessary to create and publish a post.
Google Drive and Dropbox
I don't know about you, but in the last few years I have tried to go totally paperless. That means that in addition to photos, I also have a lot of documents that I need to store and easily access online. As we know from Silicon Valley, cloud storage is the name of the tech game these days. Each let's me create folders to keep files organized and I can easily share any files or folders with others with a quick email and link. If you're not already backing up to the cloud, go do it right now!
There are countless times throughout the day that I see something online and think omg that is so cool! I need to read this article, but I don't have time at right now. Rather than creating a ton of bookmarks for articles I may or may not ever get around to reading, I save those articles to Pocket so that I can peruse them later. Added bonus, you can save articles for offline viewing, that really came in handy with the travel blogs I saved before my Europe trip last year!
Tools to Automate
I have social accounts for my blog, my Etsy shop, and all of my various freelance clients. With that many accounts, it can be very time consuming to log in and out to get posts up throughout the week. And we have all heard that batch scheduling your work is more effective because it's easier to keep working on the same activity, rather than switching back and forth and mentally having to prepare for the next task at hand. So, I use Hootsuite to keep all of my social accounts in one place (as much as possible) and to schedule posts ahead of time. Buffer is very similar to Hootsuite and let's you schedule posts to various platforms in advance, I just personally prefer Hootsuite.
While I love using Hootsuite, unfortunately they haven't integrated with all social media platforms (looking at you Pinterest) and some other platforms I just don't love the setup (Instagram), so I use Later to plan and schedule Instagram posts. Fair warning, there is not way to truly "schedule" Instagram posts. All tools like this allow you to go through the process of editing the photo and adding a caption with tags but rather than posting at the time you've chosen, instead it will send you an alert that it's time to post. Then, you have to open the app and select Open in Instagram to then actually post your photo. This annoys me to no end but for now, this is the best solution we have to work with!
Mail Chimp or Constant Contact
If you are collecting emails (you should be) of people you interact with and you are ready to take it to the next level with some email marketing or a newsletter, you have probably either heard of MailChimp or Constant Contact. Both are email marketing providers, while MailChimp has a free package option and Constant Contact is paid, they both share one awesome feature. You can set up trigger actions (like when someone subscribes to your website) that will automatically send a series of emails you pre-built to the user. This is a huge time saver as you can prep all of these emails ahead of time with original content. The benefit of drip email campaigns like this are that they help to lead your user towards an end goal. That goal might be to purchase your product or service or to create an account, it can be anything you choose. But it brings them closer to that point without you having to lift a finger, technology is an amazing thing!
Tools to Enhance
I wouldn't be surprised if you've already heard of Canva, it's a fast growing tool that a ton of small companies and entrepreneurs use to create custom graphics for their website and social media (I created the image for this post with Canva). They offer ready to go templates that can be customized to reflect your brand identity. It's a great tool to quickly and easily make engaging images for your content.
PicMonkey is another great tool if you have a photo that you want to edit. For anyone who doesn't want to shell out a ton of money to buy Photoshop or you just don't want to take the time to learn, this is a good alternative. It's cheap, costing less than $9 per month for their highest package, and it gets you all of the normal tools and functionality you would reasonably want to do for editing photos. Will you be able to add yourself in a photo next to Beyonce with this? No, but it will let you crop and brighten a photo, you can even add a starry sky background to your photo, which I'll assume you are going to do right now...I'll wait.
While all of these tools are great for keeping yourself and your business organized and optimizing your process, make sure you don't spend too much time trying to work with a tool that just isn't working for you. These tools should help, not be a source of annoyance or frustration. Keep an eye out for new tools and apps that launch, give it a try for a couple of days or a week, then decide if it's saving you time or effort and making your work easier.
What tools and apps do you use to effectively run your business?