Oct 4, 2021
Do you consider yourself to be an organised person?
Or is your life a bit scattered – and you never feel like you’re getting the most out of your day?
If being organised isn’t your strong suit, then it’s very easy to fall off the productivity wagon.
Procrastination can also push you off the edge…
Today, I’m sharing 5 productivity tools I personally can’t live without. I recently shared these with an online group for Bx and they were well-received. So I thought you’d enjoy this insight behind the scenes of my business as well.
Let’s get started!
SEE BELOW FOR ROUGH NOTES FOR THIS EPISODE
I’m often asked how I manage to do all the things I do. Including life as a mum, business owner, podcaster, Bx Team Leader, Business Chamber Education Partner, Meet Up host, and more.
Well, firstly – I’m super organised. But I couldn’t do it all without the support from the 5 very handy productivity tools I’m about to share with you.
Yes, I’m a Google Workspace (Formerly G-Suite) fan. Up until a couple of years ago, I still used a paper diary. Now, my whole life – both business and personal is scheduled into my Google Calendar.
It keeps me calm by giving me a clear idea of what my week is looking like. And knowing everything is all in the same place. It also gives me the freedom to easily move tasks and events around – without scribbling out and re-writing notes on paper.
I block out time in my calendar for certain tasks – and try my best to stick to it. It helps me to be productive when I know I have a time limit! Especially at the moment with my 2 young kids around.
With my calendar, I use different colours for different types of events.
For example, grape is for family stuff, tangerine is for my personal stuff, blue is for business admin, purple is for client work, Flamingo is for podcast interviews, Sage is for events…you get the picture!
This strategy gives me a clear idea of how I’m spending my time – and whether I’m spending too much time in a particular area. So I ensure I’m being productive in all areas of my life. And as you can see in this week’s example, there’s not a lot of time for me at the moment…But most of the time, my calendar looks pretty colourful!
Every Friday or Sunday, I look at the week ahead and ensure I’ve scheduled enough time for project work – as well as breathing space in between meetings. I’m not always good at that one, but I’m getting better!
While on the topic of calendars, I have to mention Calendly here. If you’re unfamiliar with it, Calendly is an online booking system that integrates with your calendar, Zoom, CRM, and other tools.
Rather than wasting time going backwards and forwards with proposed dates and times for meetings with potential referral partners or clients, I simply send them a booking link.
Some people say it’s impersonal. I reckon it’s practical. And I personally prefer this method when lining up chats with others. I can simply look at their calendar and mine and find a date that suits us both.
In Calendly, I have various types of meetings set up. 15 minute chats are great for touching base with people or having an initial chat after an introduction. They’re fairly short and snappy and ensure your time isn’t wasted. I also have a 30 minute option, but I usually allow those for briefings or proposal chats where I know there’s more information to be exchanged.
After people lock in a date and time, you can ask them certain quantifiable questions that can help save you time during the conversation.
Ultimately, you don’t want to spend all your time having meetings – and not putting your time into better things. Like your actual work or working on your content marketing strategy. (See what I did there?) I also ensure a buffer of 30 mins in between meetings and if, somehow, my day is filled with more than 3 or 4 meetings, I may try to reschedule things.
The next tool I want to talk about is Trello – which is a project management tool. Full disclosure here – while I used to have an official CRM system, lately I’ve been using Trello to keep track of my potential, current, and immediate past clients instead.
While there are various project management tools out there, personally, I prefer Trello for the drag and drop process. It just seems to work better than having lots of lists.
I first heard about the tool about 6 years ago, but I couldn’t make it work for me back then. I was still stuck in my Excel red, orange, green headspace!
But I started trying it out for my podcast in January last year – and now I have multiple boards for my podcast, marketing campaigns, current projects, and tasks allocated to my subcontractors and marketing assistant. Oh and Bx leadership stuff as well!
It keeps me productive because I can clearly see which tasks are awaiting action – and all of the key information is kept in the same place.
Email conversations are saved in there, as well as client documents or links to my Google Drive, and where things are up to with invoices and payments. It’s much better than using my whiteboard and searching through folders on my computer. Especially when more than one person needs access to them all.
While I used CRMs in the past, I’ve found this method to keep me much more organised and on top of what needs to be done and when.
Okay, I’m a massive fan of Canva! It’s such a great tool for creating social media graphics, e-newsletter banners, Facebook covers, client proposals, presentations – you name it.
I never got the hang of Adobe Photoshop, so the discovery of Canva was life-changing for me. I love the vast range of design templates you can use and the ease of adapting them to suit your brand. Give me a white screen and I’ll design something dodgy or very outdated. Give me a Canva template and the magic just happens!
This is a fab productivity tool because what could have taken half an hour or more to create can now take only minutes.
And I use it for both my own creations and client social media posts when working on an organic social media campaign or repurposing blogs we’ve written for them.
It’s so easy to match the client’s brand style in Canva and release images that suit their business.
I have the paid version of Canva, but you can do so much with the Free version as well. If you’re not already on it…get on it!
Okay, it’s not an online tool. It’s a service. But having an offshore virtual assistant has been completely game-changing for me when it comes to productivity!
I met Clay from VA World Outsourcing via Bx about 12 months ago and I haven’t looked back. Personally, I got my VA onboard for marketing support, rather than admin support. But she’s ended up doing both.
For 20 amazing hours each week, she supports me so much in my business – handling all those little tasks which I enjoy doing, but my time is better spent elsewhere.
She keeps my personal content marketing strategy moving along (always with my instruction and approval). Like creating social media posts, setting up draft e-newsletters, managing my podcast process, drafting blogs, setting up events, helping promote my trainings and meet ups, doing LinkedIn outreach, and designing stunning graphics in Canva (which are usually even better than what I could design. Plus, she does them even quicker).
While I still prefer to review and approve all of the above before anything is published, scheduled, or sent, she keeps it all moving along. When the drafts are then waiting for me in Trello, it forces me to take action and complete them. If she didn’t make that start, they simply wouldn’t happen at all.
I’ve been so impressed with her work that my VA – or marketing assistant as I call her – has been helping me with client work in recent months.
When I look back at all the stuff she gets done – and pushes along – I wonder how I managed to squeeze all of it into my week before she came onboard.
These days, I can focus on doing all the right things to move my business forward. Rather than procrastinating with all of those little things!
ABOUT LEANNE SHELTON
Throughout her career, Leanne Shelton has gained vast experience in journalism, marketing, communications, events, and B2B sales. She has worked in both corporate and not-for-profit roles, but since starting Write Time Marketing in 2014, Leanne has found her true calling.
A self-proclaimed English nerd at heart, Leanne is extremely passionate about the written word and loves working with Health & Wellness business owners to prepare effective content marketing strategies to best suit their target audiences. Even though she has dabbled in all forms of copywriting, Leanne specialises in business blogging as she loves the capacity to form ongoing relationships with her clients.
While some business owners choose to outsource their blogs to Leanne to write, others prefer to take the DIY approach and learn about the art via training opportunities online, face-to-face, and her podcast ‘Marketing & Me’.
Outside the office, Leanne enjoys dancing, reading, listening to inspiring podcasts, and spending quality time with her husband and two young daughters.
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