Do you do any of these 5 things in your morning routine?

Do you do any of these 5 things in your morning routine?

Do you do any of these 5 things in your morning routine?

I thought I would share with you my morning routine. As my life is a series of systems put together to make my day run as smoothly as possible.

1. Drink a pint of water

I have been doing this for about 5 years now. Every night I take up a bottle or pint of water to bed with me. When I wake up the first thing I do is down the water.
When you wake up, this is when you are most dehydrated, not to mention your morning breath.
By drinking a pint of water before reaching for the coffee, I am giving my body chance to rehydrate.

2. I get UP!

This might seem obvious, but how many of you actually get out of bed straight away? Or do you peruse Facebook and check your emails first? You see if you check your phone, I can guarantee you will find
something to distract you.
I see the same women dropping their kids off to school late most mornings looking stressed and tired. However, I have also seen that they were logged on Facebook
early in the morning and they had probably lost track of time.
There is no judgement here, it is up to them and I use to do it all the time. Then I would get myself in a right tizz and take it out on Jess that we were running
late! I know!
By adopting that simple rule of getting up and getting ready before checking my phone has made my life so much easier and more productive in the morning.

3. I know what I am wearing

Every night before bed I get my clothes ready for the next day. I lay them out so even if I do get up late, I know exactly what I need to shove on and get out the door.
I do the same for my daughter, her uniform hangs on the door in the order she is to put it on. This helps her understand her routine, she will know if the next day is a school day
or the weekend.
She knows what she needs to get ready in, and more often than not does it before even coming to wake me! (which is very nice!)

4. I have ‘themed’ mornings

My most productive times are between 9-11 and 2-4 so I use them accordingly. I eat at 12 and usually have a sneaky nap afterwards.
Each day of my week is themed so I know exactly what I will be doing in the first ‘deep work’ block.
Monday – Social Media
Tuesday – Training
Wednesday – Writing
Thursday – Thinking, Proofing etc.
Friday – Finance
How easy does that make things for me?
Yes I do other stuff. I have my daily tasks which I do every day. These are usually done as shallow work in my 30-minute stint before lunch.
This involves checking emails, posting to Instagram, interacting with real people and reply back to comments.

5. I have a 2-minute rule

If something will take me less than 2 minutes to complete, I do it straight away.
I don’t put it off, I just do it.
By the time you have thought of an excuse as to why you can’t do it, you could have done it!
This isn’t just work related, it works around the house too.
Jobs which take less than 2 minutes:
  • Emptying the dishwasher
  • Putting on a load of washing
  • Running the Hoover round
  • Cleaning the mirror (our shoe case is mirrored – drives me nuts!)
  • Putting the bin out
You see they take 2 minutes on their own, however if you leave them all, they will soon amount up and make it a bigger more daunting task.
What is your morning routine?

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How to Run Your Business and Keep Your Sanity

How to Run Your Business and Keep Your Sanity

How to Run a Business and Keep Your Sanity

So you’ve decided you want to be a business owner?

Or perhaps you’re already a business owner and you want to reclaim your sanity?

First of all, I want to wish you all the luck in the world, it sure is a rollercoaster ride. It is more than worth it to have the laptop lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

I wanted to offer you my top tips to ensure you keep your sanity intact and have the best possible chance for success.

Have a routine

This is your best friend! Running your own business can be hard and motivating yourself can be difficult. By creating a routine you will have the habits in place to get on with the work you need to without thinking about it.

I love having themed days, so for each day of the week, I have a set deep work task to do. By having these themed days you know exactly what you’re doing each day.

Time Blocking and Routine

Having a set time to start and finish works well too. I don’t even look at my emails until I have got my daughter to school, that way I am completely present in getting her ready to school and she had my full attention. Also have you ever tried to write an email when your child is asking you a million questions in one minute?! It’s a recipe for disaster!

Use Checklists

Using checklists makes your life so much easier. I have them for my daily tasks (shallow work), weekly tasks and even my shopping list! By having a list to go to for a resource you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed.

They don’t have to be super comprehensive just simple and concise.

I have things like post to Instagram, check my emails, interact on social media and things like that. At first, you will use the checklist daily and before you know it, it’ll become second nature.

You can use it to reference to if you are training staff in the future so that they know what to expect to be done on a daily basis.

I have created systems in my business for every task that happens and if I couldn’t work someone else could follow my processes and procedures to get it done.

Get Offline

Yes, this might seem a bit of a strange suggestion for someone wanting to build an online business. However, there is no point having the freedom of a laptop lifestyle if you are always stuck on your laptop!

Make sure you get some time away from the online world every day. Whether it be to hangout with friends, go for a walk or head to the gym it will do the world of good to have some free time.

Use tools to help

There are several tools you can use to ensure your business runs on autopilot as much as possible. I wanted to suggest that you use Calendly to book in client calls and consultations so that you can run your schedule with minimal fuss.

I am also a raving fan of Buffer, it takes care of my social media for me!

If you want to learn my top ten tools to run a business you can find them here >>

Optimise your Check-ins

This probably was one of my biggest time savers. I used to constantly be online to answer messages and emails as soon as they came in. Whilst you may feel productive you’re actually not, it’s the complete opposite in fact.

You are being a slave to your notifications, so turn them off on your phone and laptop so that you only check-in when YOU actually want to. If you are super brave take the social media apps off your phone (except Instagram obviously) you then won’t be on your phone all the time.

I have 3 times per day where I check and deal with emails at a time that suits me. I also do the same with social media, I make time to go online with purpose so I don’t spend hours aimlessly flicking through my newsfeed.

I get in and out as quickly as possible. I make sure my auto responder advises people of this so they know if it is urgent to call me.

Use Techniques to Aid Productivity

I mainly use 2 techniques which keep me super focused and productive. They are called ‘time blocking’ and ‘pomodoro so for everything I do I schedule in time blocks of 30-90 minute intervals to do a set task but use the Pomodoro timer to do focused work for 25 minutes with a 5-minute break or 90 minutes work and a 20-minute break.

By using these techniques I can work quickly and efficiently and know that I can have a short break coming soon.

You can use an app on your phone or a simple kitchen timer, just remember to turn your phone to aeroplane mode so you don’t get disturbed.

Schedule Everything

If you want to achieve anything it must be scheduled in. This isn’t just for your work, it covers fun time, me time, mother and daughter time and even date night!

By ditching your to-do list and opting for scheduling your tasks in, you will know whether you have time to do them or not realistically.

Think of things like appointments, you wouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment or cancel on your boss so be as disciplined with your scheduling.

Simplify Your Life

If you can make your life easier why wouldn’t you?

There are several ways you can do to create time in your day, freeing you up to do more of what you love not to mention earn more money.

Have you heard about working in your genius? It’s a bit like that and only you can decide how you can do it.

For me I like to have a clean house but don’t want to waste time cleaning, I have a cleaner that is £10 an hour, if I make double that per hour it’s a perfect option.

If you HATE blogging but know that is a necessary evil for your business, it’s the ideal task to outsource right? If you love video then do that and get it transcribed and made into a blog for you! It’s your words you just don’t have to write them!

By outsourcing these activities which are not your genius you can spend time doing more of what you’re good at and make more money in the process.

Keeping Your Sanity

As you can see there is a theme throughout the blog about being a successful entrepreneur and it means good planning.

All of the tips I have given you are to do with managing yourself to get the best out of your time.

To create freedom in your life this requires careful planning, consistency and discipline. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, I love it and it suits me to the ground.

Whereas some people like to clock in and clock out, have someone else set their goals and follow someone else’s rules. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this at all, it’s finding what is best for you and your life.

If you would like some help to systemise your business so that you can make the best out of your time email me at kelly@kellymariewest.com if you would like to try our course on social media systemisation we have some spots available in the new year.

45 Of My Best Productivity Hacks I’ve Perfected This Year

45 Of My Best Productivity Hacks I’ve Perfected This Year

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We all love a productivity hack right?

If you could get more done in less time wouldn’t you want to?

I have been running my online business nearly 2 years now and 2016 has been a big learning curve. I am sharing with you my very best productivity hacks so you get the most out of your time and you feel awesome every day.

So if you to supercharge your productivity and be a little smug about how much you achieve in one day, read on and then implement:

1.        Turn off Social Media notifications on your phone and only use it on your PC – this means deleting the app off your phone!

2.        Check emails at certain times throughout the day and have an autoresponder which advises that you check it at Xam and Xpm

3.        Use a timer so that you can work in set intervals. I use Clear Focus there is also one called Pomodoro. Find which working pattern works for you 90 minutes work/20 minutes break works well for me

4.        Work with your energy levels. If you are most productive in the morning, this is when you should do your most demanding work

5.        Plan the next day the night before you go to bed or at the end of your work day

6.        Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do right now, if it takes less that 2 minutes just do it!

7.        Turn your PC off when you have finished work – it’s all too easy to just quickly jump back on!

8.        Tidy your workspace at the end of each day, a clean desk is a happy desk!

9.        Have a set routine and keep to it as much as possible – routine is the key to productivity!

10.       Get up one hour earlier that usual! You will get so much more done with no distractions

11.       Try to limit wasteful Skype/phone calls by providing an agenda beforehand – this is awesome as most things can be covered in an email…

12.       Outsource what you cannot do or what you find difficult to do – time saver of the century!

13.       Don’t multi-task, complete 1 full task at a time. Going between tasks means things will get missed and you won’t be productive!

14.       Use your breaks wisely – put the washing on, prepare food, go for a walk. Sad I know but the housework won’t do itself

15.        Go for a walk when your productivity starts to dwindle usually after lunch – beat the afternoon slump with some fresh air

16.        Have a cut-off point for your day and stick to it – there is no point having your own business if it runs you into the ground

17.        Don’t spread yourself too thin, if doing one task is going to set back another tell your boss/client and ask them to make the decision which is a priority to them

18.        Change your scenery, work on a train, in a ‘Coffice’ or even in an indoor play centre for kids! (only do this is you have kids mind!)

19.        De-clutter your emails, use Unrollme.com and stop signing up to everyone’s emails! They don’t hold the key to all your questions!

20.        Stop looking for shortcuts or the next big thing. Do the work and get on with your daily tasks and you will get there eventually

21.        Plan all your meals and snacks in advance, I even set an alarm for when it’s time to eat!

22.       Carry a notebook with you everywhere, you never know when creativity will strike

23.        Spend 10 minutes exercising your brain with a crossword puzzle – frustrating but it does take your mind off work

24.       Prioritise your workload according to what HAS to be done, what NEEDS to be done and can WAIT FOREVER! Ditch the stuff that can wait and schedule in the rest

25.       You’ve heard about batch cooking right? Well try it with your work, create social media posts in batches, do client invoices, filing etc. all in batches its a life saver

26.       Create a list of small tasks so that you can check off small easy tasks and have a feel good moment from small wins

27.       Don’t leave things until the last minute, set yourself a fake deadline before the actual deadline – you still have to stick to it mind

28.       Have a daily dump! I mean a brain dump, that way you will have a clear mind for going to bed, it is amazing what a difference this makes

29.       Have a daily task/goal and make yourself accountable. Tell others what you are going to achieve and ask what they are doing that day

30.       Meditate of 10 minutes a day, if you’re really busy do it for longer! You can just sit quietly breathing in and out, it doesn’t have to be weird

31.       Break large projects and tasks into smaller manageable tasks, reverse engineering works a treat here

32.       RECON – for everything you need to do. Do your research in advance. If it’s good enough for the military it’s good enough for me

33.       Educate yourself. You’ve heard knowledge is power right? Wrong, implementation is where the power is. Learn and then DO!

34.       Reward yourself. There is no point in working like a dog if you aren’t going to throw yourself a bone every now and again! I treated myself to an Apple iWatch recently – I love it!

35.       Don’t waste time or energy on people that bring you down – if someone brings you down or causes you pain – cut them out of your life.

36.       Have fun! Plan it into your routine and do it! If it doesn’t get planned in we often overlook it. Ice skating, rock climbing or just having a campfire and a glass of wine

37.       Keep messages and emails short and sweet. Just because you can type fast doesn’t mean anyone’s got time for war and peace

38.        Cut your hours. Research shows that working 60 hours instead of 50 doesn’t make you any more productive!

39.       Have one full day OFF per week. Get outside and live. We don’t live to work, we work to live. Sunday is my day off, I love a good Netflix binge 😉

40.       Don’t be the YES person. It is ok to say no, push back if you need to. You can’t be everything for everyone

41.        Ask for help if you need it, you cannot do everything all the time

42.       Stop being a perfectionist, do what you can with what you have – this was a hard one for me.

43.       Automate repetitive tasks as much as possible use IFTTT.COM

44.       Don’t guess. Use data to guide your decision-making

45.       Plan in your down time. Have a ‘me’ hour /evening or day! I choose to exercise and read as my ‘me’ time.

Now I know that is a long list of productivity hacks but we are all different and some will be more useful to you than others.

I wouldn’t try and implement too many at once, I have had 18 months to perfect these and make them part of my routine.

Pick 2-3 tops and incorporate them into your daily routine and before you know it will become second nature.

Which productivity hacks will implement first?

 

 

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The 7 Commandments of Getting Sh*t Done

The 7 Commandments of Getting Sh*t Done

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Everyone asks me how do you get so much done.

I used to answer, I’m Wonder Woman!

We all know that’s not true, although it’s more exciting than the truth.

As there are a few simple rules I follow in order to get sh*t done and I stick to it.

I will share these simple rules, so that you can do it too.

Clean Your Desk

Seems too simple right?

However, it really works and you’ll thank me for it.

So no matter what time it is, clean your desk and get things in order.

By cleaning your desk you will be more organised and will feel more in control.

Make this part of your routine, clean your desk at the end of each day.

Having a set cut off time each day will help, give it a go for a week and see how much more productive you are.

Pomodoro Technique

I have been using this technique for several years and it is literally life changing.

You can download a timer to your smart phone but I use a traditional egg timer.

All you have to do is have a set work vs. Rest rate. I used 25 to 5, and then every fourth turn I take an extended break.

The great thing about having the short work time is that it keeps you focused and allows you to do small tasks in between to have a break. So I will write for 25 minutes and then put a wash on, then I will proofread and edit in the next stint followed by making a coffee.

I alternate between doing something for me and then something mundane, which is usually housework!

Reverse Engineer

Not sure where to start with your big project? Start at the end and work backward from there.

By working out where you want to end up, it is much easier to reverse engineer the project step by step than to muddle through it.

By highlighting milestones that you will need to complete you can accurately plan projects with a timeline and step by step process for you and your team to follow.

Pause Emails

Ever been completely focused on a task and then ping it’s gone.

An email pops up on your screen and you can’t help but take a look in your email.

Using a programme called Inbox Pause it’s a chrome extension (inboxpause.com) will put you in control and mean you will check your emails when it suits you.

In order to cover yourself for any urgent request which come via email you can set an auto responder which says something like:

‘Thanks for your email. I’ve paused my inbox so I won’t see your email for a while.

If this urgent please contact me on my mobile number 07985194801 for real emergencies and time-sensitive matters only.’

Set Calendar Appointments

This is by far my best technique for getting sh*t done.

By time blocking each week will mean you know exactly what you will be doing each week.

I also block off time for exercise, calling family, spending time with my daughter and date night.

If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen.

Scrap to do lists, they are endless and unfulfillable.

By blocking off time you can see your capacity in a snapshot.

Say No More

This was the hardest technique for me to adapt.

As someone with an uncontrollable urge to help people it’s tough but it really helps with productivity.

By saying no more, you will be focused on exactly what you need to be, rather on what others want you to be on.

Think of saying no as you ‘preset’ switch, and in order for you to say yes it has to be a big deal!

Being selfish isn’t a bad thing, I don’t mean that you let people down. I mean you are just very selective with your time and you be less available to people.

So if someone wants to book a call, perhaps ask them to know exactly what the call is about. Perhaps it can be answered with a FAQ sheet or just a quick email reply.

Take Home Points

You might not find all of these techniques useful but I would say you need to give it chance to work.

So pick one to start with, perhaps the one you find easiest and follow it.

I would start with one technique at once, then you create it as a habit.

Which technique will you start with?

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How to Deal with Time Vampires

How to Deal with Time Vampires

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We all have something that sucks the time out of our day, whether it be a needy family member or your addiction to Facebook the result is the same.

So what is the best way to deal with these time suckers as they are your habits.

You know that nothing good comes from it but you still keep doing it over and over again.

Figure it Out

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Before you can overcome your time vampires you need to know exactly what they are and what they are holding you back from.

There are several ways you can do this, you can do it manually or get technology to do the work for you.

You can make a note of where you spend your time and how long it takes you. What side tracks you and for how long, over the course of a week.

Or you can use an app like RescueTime which gives you a daily report where you’re spending your time online. Are you bulk buying books on Amazon, spending hours on Social media or are you very disciplined?

Perhaps it’s people stopping by, or calling you or messaging you on Snapchat which is wasting your time.

You can overcome the bloody thirstiest of time vampires, here are some tried and tested tactics you can use.

Block Out Time

Having set times to do things with a time limit will ensure you’re more productive and efficient. This is especially useful for tasks that tend to take you forever even though they’re super simple. You don’t have a set deadline so you do it willy nilly and trawl your newsfeed before getting back to it.

Having set time will developing a new habit which keeps your more focused. If you want to go on Facebook have a set time to do so with a particular purpose.

Top Tip: Use the app Facebook group so that you do what you need to on your business pages and groups to give good value and interact without any distractions of your newsfeed.

Be Prepared

You know exactly who to avoid when you see the name flash up. You know that you’re going to be stuck on the phone for at least an hour and lose the will to live. So why do you still pick up? Obligation, guilt?

If you always let it happen, it will always be that way.

You have a couple of options here. You can set your phone to airplane mode, that way the phone calls, texts, emails and social media notifications won’t disturb you.

You don’t have to make the decision to ignore them if you don’t know they’re calling. Make it up to you when you take calls. I’m not saying ignore people, however have the conversations on your terms. You could call them when you’re traveling, that way you aren’t losing out on work which makes you money and you’re entertained (kind of) while driving!

The other thing you can do it to take the call and say ‘Hey I’ve only got a minute so what can I help you wish?’ They may reply saying something like it’s ok, don’t worry, I’ll call back. You don’t want that, it means that they’re going to chew your ear off. Tell them that you have 5 minutes so go ahead, that way they’ll get straight to the point.

Do This Everyday

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If you are your own worst enemy and don’t what you are doing each day, this is for you.
At the end of every work day (you should have a set time for this) clean your desk and set your top 3 tasks for the following day.

It’s easy to go online, check emails and go off on a tangent before you even realise it’s lunch time. If you don’t have set tasks you are more likely to waste time on social media which can take a lot of time!

I would suggest ALWAYS starting your day with your worst task first, aka ‘Eating the Frog’. If like me you like a Netflix binge, I don’t allow myself to go online until my Frog has been eaten! It’s a great incentive for me and has become part of my routine. At lunch, I make myself something fresh and sit and watch an episode on Netflix. The great thing about this is I have completed my worst task already, I have given my brain a break and I am eating healthy food.

Within the hour I am back at work and feeling revitalised.

Stop Doing This Right Now

This is one of the biggest time killers of all. It’s something that we all used to put on our CV as a trait but in all honesty, it isn’t a good thing! Have you guessed it yet?

It’s Multi-tasking!

All this means is you get loads of tasks half done! You get stressed and achieve SFA!

There are times where multi-tasking is perfect, this usually means that you do something which doesn’t require brain power along with something that is passive. For instance, you can listen to an audio book whilst doing housework, you can drive your car while making client calls (as long as you have Bluetooth obviously!) and even posting on Instagram whilst taking a …. walk!!!

So as I say you should start with your worst task first, before starting you should get everything you need to complete the task. Then you don’t move on until the task is completed.

Have Rules of Engagement

This was a tip given to me from my good friend John Cusick, and I have started using it with new clients. It works like a dream! It means I know exactly what is expected of me and the client knows to keep within my boundaries.

Clients like boyfriends and husbands will always get away with what you let them! So it’s up to you to stop them. If your client is often asking you to turn things round in 30 minutes, not signing things off in a timely manner or just taking your time up too much this is a must!

The hardest part is coming up with the rules and then enforcing them after the fact, with new clients it’s a piece of cake. However, a client that has been with you a long time and takes up a lot of your time isn’t going to like it. Just remember when giving them your time (for free) it is stopping you do the things you love.

It just needs to cover things like:

  • How to Contact you – via email, text etc.
  • What the Turnaround Time is
  • Expectations
  • What Support is Offered
  • Key Deliverables
  • Payment Terms
  • Cancellation Policy

Create Habits & Time Saving Routine

This is my favourite and it works for me as I ‘theme’ my mornings.

I have various tasks which I do on these mornings and I do it each week so it is part of my routine.

My week of tasks has a logical order and makes my life easier and means I use my time even better.

For me, it looks like this

Social Media Monday’s – I do my social media creation and scheduling in one batch

Training Tuesday – I find something I want to learn more about and I either read a book, watch a video or listen to a podcast. (I often then use the information as research for my blog)

Writing Wednesday – I tend to write 2-3 blogs each Wednesday, I will use the training from Tuesday and the ones I have planned in and get at least a first draft done.

Thinking Thursday – Today I upload all my blogs, make the graphics and do my final edits.

Finance Friday – I do my books and publish my blog.

See how my week flows and means I am making the best of my time!

Do More In Less Time

Sounds like a fad diet or something right?

However, this is my secret weapon to slay a time suck, which is unfocused work. As you have blocked out your time this will be super easy! So all you have to do is to reduce the time allocated to do each task. You see if you give me a task and tell me to have it to you in an hour, you will get it in an hour. However, if you told me to do the same work in 30 minutes I would have it done too.

The great thing about reducing your time spent on something is you will find ways to be more efficient and ensure that you have everything you need in advance.

Having set work times helps with this too, if you just work as and when you can you will get work done yes but you won’t be strategic and systemised – which means your business probably won’t grow.

It’s like when you are taking a day off or you are going on holiday it’s amazing what you can get done when you know you are not going to be around! So set yourself shorter working hours and I guarantee you will still get as much done.

Get In and Out Fast

This is a must on social media. You need to log in and do what you have to do and then get off. Otherwise, you will find yourself scrolling through a newsfeed of new babies, people’s dinners, people moaning about life and people bragging about how good they are.

In the time while you are mindlessly scrolling you could be building your business. So be strategic and don’t let Facebook suck your time dry. Have a set time to log in and complete your tasks and get off.

You can use a chrome extension called “Kill News Feed’ which means the newsfeed is disabled so you cannot get distracted and won’t waste hours on Facebook.

Cut Meetings in Half

If you want to hustle like Gary Vee you need to be ruthless with your time. That means not wasting a single minute more than you have to.

Cut all your meeting times in half and you will still get everything out of it that you need to. It just means you have to be more organised and get straight to the point.

Having an itinerary for every meeting is essential than you can check whether you actually need to be there in the first place.

Use these meetings to set priorities for the team so that everyone knows exactly what is needed of them to achieve your goals and that nothing is holding you back.

Say No More

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If you don’t want to do something or it is not in line with your plan, just say NO!

You don’t have to give a reason or an excuse, you can just say “No thank you but thanks for thinking of me.’ You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone and if they do ask, you can tell them it isn’t inline with your goals.

If you did everything that everyone put in front of you, you will be going off in all different directions and it will take you even longer to get you to where you want to be.

So don’t let people steal the most precious thing there is in the world – time! You cannot get it back and it should be used wisely.

Ditch the Drama Queens

You know the ones, they ring you up constantly in floods of tears or ranting about something constantly. it isn’t a real problem, not in the grand scheme of things but still, you listen as your strength to live is sucked from you!

Unless it is a genuine problem, tell them a solution to their problem and then say you have to go. They will most probably ignore your sane advice and move on to the next person to suck the life out of them!

If no one does this to you, you could be the drama queen, just saying…!

In Summary

You have all the tactics you should ever need to deal with those pesky time vampires which will give you so much time back you won’t know what you do with yourself!

If you have any other time vampires in your life which have not been detailed, please comment below!

Time is the biggest luxury we have, it’s not something you can put a price on. You cannot buy more and you don’t know when the timer is going to go off.

So all you can do is make the most of every minute you have and not waste one second if you can help it.

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My Top 10 Tools I Need in My Business

My Top 10 Tools I Need in My Business

My Top 10 Tools I Need in My Business

 

There are several reasons why I automate and systemise parts of my business and in order to do this you need TOOLS.

Firstly I am a military wife and mum that runs a business. There are only 24 hours in the day and I want to have a work/life balance that works for me.

I suffer with anxiety and have that if I am more organised it reduces overwhelming and panicky feelings. Not only that it means I am more efficient and I can make a bigger impact in the limited time that I do have.

By being more efficient and productive I am able to get more done in the same amount of time, this means more profits in less time.

I cannot afford to spend 6 hours a day marketing my business, if I did I would never have any time to serve my clients! So even if I got the customers I wouldn’t be able to keep them long.

Automation and systemising solves the problem that most small business owners have. They need to find the perfect balance between working ON and IN the business. Too much working IN the business and you don’t get any new clients. Too much working ON the business and you don’t have time to deliver to your clients.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be chained to my PC all the time. I want to be able to spend time with the daughter and enjoy some times with my friends and family.

Not to mention I actually want to have time to spend the money I am earning otherwise, what’s the point!
I use tools which help me to reduce overwhelm and boost productivity. In a way it’s cheating, the automation helps me to complete monotonous tasks and the system processes to ensure I am efficient and effective.

Here are my top 10 Tools, which I cannot live without:

IFTTT

IFTTT is a pretty cool tool, which allows you to set recipes which IF something happens THEN something else happens. So for instance when I share an image on Instagram it automatically shares the image and caption to my Twitter page as an image. There are literally 100s of recipes you can choose from and you can make your own up too.

I would say test them out and see how they work. Don’t automate everything you can, see if it makes sense to do so before you action it.

Google Calendar

If it’s not on the calendar it isn’t happening.

My day is divided into 30-minute stints and for each task, the relevant time is allocated to get it done. This includes the school run, breakfast, phone calls, social media, checking emails and even housework! Everything I do is blocked off as a task.

If you add something to a to do list you will do it when you have time but if its in your calendar for a set time you know you will get it done. You are less likely to forget or put it off. You can also easily see if you are over exerting yourself. If someone wants you to do extra work one week it will push other things back. You can then easily prioritise and sometimes when you explain you can do that but it would mean something else would be pushed back they may not want you to do it after all!

Buffer

This is my social media magic wand.
It allows me to post over several social media platforms with ease. You can bulk upload text statuses at the push of the button. You can easily schedule your posts to go out at a later time and date. You can measure the success of your posts and see when your followers are online. The browser extension and iPhone app effortlessly allows you to upload 3rd party content, which your followers will appreciate.

There is a calendar function too so you can see on overview of your day, week or month so you can see where there are gaps which need to be filled.

Having a set calendar for your social media makes it much easier for you to put content together. It takes away that complete overwhelming feeling of “What the heck am I going to post?!”. Having theme days works well Motivation Monday, Tuesday Tip, Workout Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday and Fun Friday help you simply think of content ideas.

Dropbox

More like Pandora’s box! It keeps everything safe for your business and is easily shared with others to view and/or edit. It allows you to deliver big files and access your work anywhere in the world. Comments and emails can be sent via Dropbox to make updates and give feedback too.

My Dropbox is literally jam-packed with important documents, videos and spreadsheets; I use it on a daily basis without fail.

I would highly recommend downloading the app to your phone as well as syncing your Dropbox with your PC or laptop making it even easier to access your files.

Canva

I don’t know what I would do if this were to ever close down. I probably would have to try and learn PicMonkey again or pay a professional graphic designer for all of my social media posts and blog headers.

That would either take a very long time or would get expensive quickly.

Canva is a graphic design platform that allows even the most uncreative of people to put together amazing looking images for their business. The Canva for Work (paid version) has some other cool features, like being able to automatically resize different size posts to fit different platforms.

Definitely give this a go you will not regret it! Plus now they have an app for the iPhone so it’s even better!

Screencastomatic

This is a godsend.

Seriously this lets you film 15 minutes of your screen and/or webcam for free.

This is how I put together demonstrations for clients and colleagues. For every task in your business it is important to have a process in place, this is the only way you will ever be able to successfully outsource.

This means creating a process that someone can follow with little or no direction, they could have written instructions too but the video is so much easier as you can actually show them what you mean.
Having the video demo is ideal for training new staff or sharing your latest tech trick with clients.

17 Hats

This just keeps getting better and better.
Ideal for the small business owner, who wants to deliver professional quotes, invoices and keep a record of phone calls and emails all in one place.
It’s a very basic CRM system that also allows you to document ‘work flows’ for repetitive tasks. You can link it with your PayPal, email and google calendar to sync up and automate invoices to make your life easier.

No need to remember to invoice your monthly clients or 4 weekly clients or even weekly, this will do it for you. 17 Hats also enables you to collect leads but I don’t really use it for that. It’s more for keeping track of my accounting and sending the quotes for set tasks.

Pexels.com

This is where I go first if I need some images for blogs or social media posts. They are copyright free images which I can upload to Canva to brand and make pretty!

There is a huge selection and keeps costs down when you are posting several images per day.
Actually, the image in the header to this blog was from there!

Stock .Adobe

This is where I go if there isn’t anything I can use on Pexels.com, I used it when it was called Dollarshop; I pay a monthly fee and save up points to buy images.

Great choice and ideal for what I am doing. They can be downloaded in different sizes.
You can get a 30-day free trial with 10 free images, so you can try before you sign up.

Paypal

The old faithful Paypal!

I know many people have moved to Stripe or Go Cardless but I find Paypal works best for me. Yes, it has higher fees but it’s more trusted and well known compared to the other companies.

I know how to use it and I don’t want to learn how to use another software just yet. Perhaps when I am making the big bucks I won’t want to pay Paypal and can pay someone to sort another payment system out for me.

But, If it ain’t broke …

There are many other tools that I do use however, these are my top 10 that I could not run my business without.
I need these on a daily basis and I would miss them if there were to ever disappear.

Do you use any of these tools?

What tools can you not live without?

If you have any questions about any of these tools, please comment below and I will get back to you.

TOOLS RULE!!

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