When Marta asked if I’d like to write a guest blog on the tools I use in my business, I jumped at the chance. You see, when I started out I spent a lot of time looking for ways to make more time (I do see the irony in this). It paid off in the end though, and I now couldn’t manage without those time-saving tools so I’m more than happy to share what’s in my toolbox in case it’s helpful to you, too.
So, what’s in my box?
I don’t have favourite tools, I love them all equally for different reasons so here they are in alphabetical order (I know, such a cop-out). All of these are free (although there is always the option to upgrade):
I love buffer for scheduling social media posts. Although I started using buffer to schedule posts for clients some time ago, I used to be against doing this as it myself as didn’t feel like a good fit with my idea of authenticity but I’m over that now! I never schedule more than a week in advance (for myself or clients), as you never know what life might bring but now if I have a super busy week I know my social media is taken care of and I can give full focus to my clients. I still jump on in real time daily but now spent 15/20 minutes chatting to people rather than checking in randomly several times a day, which can eat into hours if I let it!
I use Canva to create images for blog posts and memes for social media, like my #newstorystarters. Canva saves me time as rather than look all over the place for photos (I can spend hours on this if I let myself), I can use the ones right there in Canva, many of which are free (and a lot of the premium images are only $1) and I don’t need to check what sizes images need to be for social media as Canva does it all for me. It also saves every design I make so that I can easily amend the same (unlike PicMonkey, which is why this didn’t make this list although it’s also a handy online photo editing tool).
Capsule I’ve only started using recently and it has made such a difference! I was looking for a CRM system and this was recommended by Katie at VIrtually Does It. Despite this, I first tried Zoho and just didn’t get on with it. When I switched to Capsule it was so much better! I imported all my contacts quickly and easily and was able to add my own categories. I love that tasks are linked to contacts so I can quickly see what I have coming up for clients, who I need to contact on collaborations and how long it’s been since I’ve touched base with people. It sends email reminders too but I tend to check the dashboard daily to see what I’ve got coming up each week.
I used to keep all of my contact information on an excel spreadsheet that was colour coded and had a link to tasks elsewhere so you can imagine how much time Capsule has saved me!
OK, so you could argue this isn’t much of a timesaver as I can still spend ages looking through photos but if I want an image I can’t find on Canva and don’t want to worry about figuring out the license for it, PixaBay is my go-to. The images are free but if you really love them you can always buy the designers a coffee (by paypal donation)!
I keep all my background business tasks in Trello, which is one of many great project management tools. It’s the only one I’ve tried for myself (although I have used RedBooth on collaborative projects, which I also like – it’s not free but has a lot of extra features that are great if you have a large team) and I love it. I have several boards, including some personal ones (like what I need to do before my son starts school this September!) and I add a due date to those with a deadline so that I get an email reminder to get on with it (these I don’t ignore as unlike Capsule, I don’t check Trello daily).
I aim for an empty inbox at the end of every day. Does that sound crazy? Yes, it seemed like an impossible dream for me too! But the combination of Gmail and Unroll Me have made it a reality! I use labels to categorise all my emails and if there is anything I need to action, it goes into Capsule so that I can just file the relevant email and only pull it up when I am working on that task. All my subscriptions go into Unroll Me unless I am taking part in online training, which of course goes straight to my inbox. This means that although I might get 20 email newsletters a day, I only get one email, leaving my inbox for the important stuff. With Unroll me, I can quickly scan the list to see whether there is anything I might want to read (and maybe share) later.