I’m constantly looking for ways to streamline my workflow and manage my personal obligations. By working for myself at home, these two worlds often collide. While there are many online and mobile apps that claim to help you make it through your work day, I’ve relied on six that work well for both my personal and professional lives.
I know it seems obvious but I’ve found that many people still do not take full advantage of everything that Google has to offer the small business owner – for free! Once you start down that Google rabbit hole, you probably won’t want to go back. I use many Google products but my number one Google tool is the calendar.
Managing multiple calendars online is a necessity for me. From my work schedule, to events, to our daughter’s school activities and my husband’s work schedule, life would get complicated without separate calendars that I can easily access and review. It’s also easy to use the invite option to schedule everyone for meetings, birthday parties and work functions. Multiple people, both family and staff, can see my work schedule. I also invite my mom to events to let her know which days we need her to babysit. She can accept or decline. This saves much of the back and forth and the added confusion of emails and phone calls. Google Calendar also syncs with my iPhone, which syncs with Facebook events that I've accepted so I can see what's happening across platforms.
I use Hootsuite for scheduling social media posts, which updates my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is another example of using online tools both personally and professionally. Instead of logging into each social media site separately, I use Hootsuite's dashboard to see what's happening wherever I am online. Working from one central dashboard saves time and keeps my social media efforts organized and up to date.
Being a one woman show for many of my daily tasks, I automate much of my online work with Zapier. Zapier manages my contacts between Google contacts, Nimble CRM, Eventbrite and MailChimp and helps keep all the contacts up to date and in sync. I also use Zapier for automatic replies on Twitter and as triggers to create reminders. For example, if I star an email as important in Gmail, Zapier triggers a reminder for me to take care of it later. Create your own “zap” or choose from a large database of already developed zaps.
Doodle is a great little tool for scheduling moms' nights out, neighborhood and friend events and team meetings. It works well with multiple people and surveys everyone to see what's best for them. Doodle works with my calendar to “see” when I’m available. It's great for informal groups and helps cut out the endless email threads and “reply all” emails that often eat up space in your inbox when big group decisions are needed.
CRM (customer relationship management) systems aren't just for big business anymore. There are many low cost or free versions that can help you manage your contacts and your sales cycle. The great thing about CRMs like Nimble, is that I have basic contact information and all of my contacts’ social media information right at my fingertips. I can even watch their activity streams within the application and see what they’re posting across platforms. I don’t have to leave Nimble to respond to a tweet, email or post. It’s set up to do so right within the CRM itself. With Nimble I have an ever changing real-time record of all the activity going on with each contact, both professionally and personally. It's amazing.
I don't have time like I used to for pretty printed invitations and cards so I use Punchbowl for invitations, thank you notes and general greetings. Punchbowl allows me to send invitations to individuals or as part of a family or group. I also use it when I want to give my customers a more personal touch. When sending holiday cards to customers I use Punchbowl instead of Mailchimp (another great tool). It still allows for customers to opt out but it has a much softer look and feel than getting a greeting from a more business oriented tool.
There are many more online tools in my in my toolbox but I’d love to hear from you. What helps you manage both your professional life and your personal life?
Trish Morrison, MBA is the founder and CEO of MomCom® Life, an organization dedicated to creating community and encouraging moms to take that next step. Trish is addicted to women’s stories and believes we can change the world through telling ours. She lives in Austin, Texas with her hot firefighter husband, Homero and her brilliant daughter Delilah. Trish is a proud feminist who can be found online at momcomlife.com or on Twitter @atxtrish and @momcomlife. MomUP!®
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