My top five seriously time-saving tools

As I was planning out my own workload the other day, I started thinking about the fact that we ALL need shortcuts to keep our businesses simple and in demand all of the time. But there’s such a huge range of business software on the market today that it can feel pretty overwhelming trying to choose the best piece of technology for you (and that’s before you try and figure out how to use the darn thing – the biggest challenge if you’re anything like me).

For me, a personal recommendation can really help cut down on research and avoid wasted time setting up a tool that later turns out to be a duffer.

So here are my top five tools to reduce profit-killing admin time and get you and your brand in front of your audience more of the time. These are my genuine recommendations, no affiliates in sight.

  1. Asana

This project management tool does take a bit of setting up, but it pays dividends in no time. It’s a running joke within my first business that despite my best efforts I’m still the only one who actually uses Asana, but I haven’t given up on the rest of my team yet! Running two businesses means having to create clear boundaries and keep on top of multiple task lists. Asana makes this simple. I even used it last week to keep track of everything I had to do in the run up to my daughter’s birthday party. Control freak? Maybe, but it beats scraps of paper, missed deadlines and lost opportunities. Create (and share) different workspaces, projects, deadlines (with reminders you can switch on/ off) and assign tasks to your clients and/ or colleagues (once they’re on board!). I use Asana with all of my clients within my second business to keep everything in one place, keep track of conversations and (score!) remove email from the equation for all of us. And the app works like a dream too.

  1. Canva

This tool allows every business owner to turn graphic designer. Whilst I would always advocate bringing on board a professional to turn your brand vision into a reality, once you have brand guidelines in place, Canva makes it super simple to apply these and achieve visual consistency across all of your communications. There’s also a Canva app, but I prefer the desktop version.

  1. Acuity

If you work with clients who need to book out chunks of your time either as one-offs or within programmes, Acuity makes it simple to organise this. Create bespoke programmes to sell, receive payments and keep track of appointments in a really simple way. There’s a free version, but if you want to brand it up you’ll need to pay a small sum each month.

  1. Lumen5

I discovered this awesome tool earlier this year and use it to create video content for my social media channels. It’s really simple to upload existing videos or images and add in your own copy. Or, what’s really clever about Lumen5 is that you can upload an existing blog post or rss feed and it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to summarize your content and match each scene with relevant videos, photos and music. It’s super quick to create engaging video content and they have a free version (as long as you don’t mind some soft Lumen5 branding featuring in places).

  1. Content creation and scheduling tools

OK, so this final recommendation isn’t strictly one tool, but bear with me, I do think we’re all different when it comes to scheduling content and it’s definitely worth investing a little time to find exactly the right solution. Here are my recommendations on what steps to take in order to simplify your decision-making.

Create content in batches – this is one of my biggest time-saving tips. I keep a notebook of ideas so that when I sit down to create content, I’m not starting from scratch and don’t have to waste time trying to come up with ideas. This also means that if inspiration strikes at a time when you can’t physically sit down and create, you can store the idea to come back to later. The same goes for the Voice Recorder on your phone, just email ideas to yourself and come back to them later.

When you sit down to create, write your copy, find or create your images/ videos and decide where you’re going to post them. You can repurpose pieces of content to make them specific for your different channels e.g. you might use the same image within your own facebook group or someone else’s, but with slightly different copy and again, tweaked for instagram so that it’s more relevant to that audience and you’re including relevant hashtags.

Once you’ve mapped everything out, your next step is to schedule the posts to appear on your chosen channels. I like scheduling directly on facebook, it feels simple to me, easy to keep track of my upcoming posts and I know that facebook won’t penalise me for using an external tool. For instagram, I recommend looking into Planoly (planoly.com) and even if you decide not to use the tool, sign up to their mailing list as the newsletters they send out are super informative and beautiful to look at.

If you want to schedule to all of your social media channels (and sometimes even your blog too) from the same place, then my top tip would be to check out Hootsuite which has a free option that should be enough to meet almost any small business owner’s needs.

To gain a deeper understanding of how your posts and social channels are performing (and I recommend getting into this as soon as you can) it’s also worth checking out Buffer and SocialOomph. Both have free options so that you can access the basics and try them out before committing.

If you find these tips and tools useful then let me know! I’d love it if they helped you create efficient systems to allow you to carve out more time to deliver value to your customers and make more money in your business.

If you’re determined to create bigger success before the end of this year and are looking for more ways to save time, grow your reach and make more money in your business, then I can help. Hop on a free call with me and let’s chat!