5 Resources to Save You Time & Energy
Everyone has 168 hours in their week. Somehow certain individuals seem to take these hours and squeeze so much more out of them. You know who I’m talking about. You always sit back and wonder how they do it all.
Well, I have some of their business secrets.
If you’re ready to maximize your week, making the most of every precious minute you have to move your business forward, then I’ve got 5 totally awesome tips for you:
5) Social Media Management Apps
Social media presents fickle business. On the one hand, it’s an incredible resource to connect with your audience, meeting new prospects and spreading the word about your swanky services.
On the other hand, it’s a time suck lured by the promise of “doing business.” You start with the best intentions. Yet three hours later you can’t remember what you logged into do. Been there way more times than I would like to admit.
This poses the question, how do you leverage the power of social without falling victim to the vacuum wasted time?
Rather than tempting fate twice a day, entering into the dangerous zone of social, use a third party app, which I like to call the safe zone, to pre-schedule out all your posts. Now you can knock out an entire month of posts in an afternoon. Rinse and repeat next month.
While you will want to build in engagement into your social strategy, this takes care of the base of your interaction. It also helps keep your accounts active. Then you can build in specific times dedicated to individual engagement.
Tailwind knocks out Pinterest. They recently launched Instagram features, but I sadly haven’t gone into play with the capabilities quite yet. I’ll let you know when I dig into what they have. Knowing them, it’s epic.
*Hootsuite’s Instagram feature allows you schedule posts in the future, but you still have to post through your phone. When you install the app on your phone, it gives you a notification that it’s time to post and automatically drops in the photo and text.
These aren’t the only players in town. They just happen to be the ones I know and love. Did I mention they come with robust free options? Icing on the cake.
Other players to consider:
In reality, the list goes on… and on. There are countless tools, including multiple platform-specific options. Digging into all of them becomes overwhelming. If you’re starting out, then I recommend Hootsuite for the majority of platforms and Tailwind for Pinterest.
Why? Because they have free options. I’m classy like that. And since they are the only ones I’ve used, except for a few custom Twitter ones, it’s all I can recommend.
4) Canned Responses & Email Batching
When I first heard the phrase “canned responses,” I had no idea what to think. Campbell’s soup came to mind. Turns out this little phrase is a crux in my productivity line up.
A canned response in Gmail is a template e-mail. It already has the formatting, writing and thought done and ready to go.
The idea is that we write very similar emails week after week. For me, a big one was networking follow up. After attending an event, I send everyone I meet a little note to say how much I enjoyed meeting them.
Like a good networker, I always customize it. But here’s the catch. I only customize a sentence. Maybe two. The rest is the same for every single person. If I hit two networking events a week, that is a lot of repeated e-mail writing.
Since you’ve stuck with me this far, here’s a reward. This is my networking follow up template:
I also customize for conferences or other high-ticket events. The red sections make sure that I don’t miss any key customization points. If you jot a quick note down on each card, this is something easily outsourced to a team member.
Here are three other great times to use canned responses:
- Networking follow up (and I suggest more than one follow up!),
- Regular meeting announcements or follow ups,
- Outreach to new influencers or people you would like to connect with.
3) Appointment Scheduling Apps
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel that my job is to coordinate meetings with people. Don’t get me wrong, I love connecting with new individuals and learning about what excites them.
That’s why I do what I do.
But do you want to know what I can’t stand?
The thirty (ok, that might be an exaggeration) steps necessary to set up that meeting. It’s the e-mail back and forth purgatory. I’m available Tuesday from 10-11:30am and 2:30-4:30pm.
They can’t meet Tuesday.
Round two, Wednesday. Rinse and repeat until you start questioning how badly you actually want this meeting.
I started using a calendar-scheduling app about a year ago. This is the most glorious time-saving app out there! I kick myself when I think about how resistant I was to using it.
Here are all the reasons I will never go back to manually scheduling meetings:
- Efficiency – clients can easily compare calendars and choose the time that works best for them;
- Effective – not only do my clients enjoy it more (no one likes e-mail purgatory), Calendly adds the new event to my Gmail calendar.
- Reminders – In the buzz of daily life, we often forget about meetings. You have two options for reminding your clients about your scheduled meeting. You can create a joint calendar event or schedule out custom reminders. Depending on the type of meeting, I alternate between the options.
- Information Upfront – when a client makes an appointment, I can customize the forms they fill out. Need to know what phone number to call? Boom, add a box. Curious what they want to gain from a coaching session? Paragraph boxes work nicely.
- Time Zones – I schedule meetings all over the world. I am currently in Thailand. To put it bluntly, I can’t do that conversation on the go. Calendly allows me to set my availability in my time zone, but each client schedules in their time zone. They don’t even have to know I’m working abroad.
*While it’s unlikely that you are traversing the globe on business, if you frequently schedule phone meetings with people around the country, this is fantastic.
While I swear by Calendly, I hear that most scheduling apps get the job done. They sold me on the time zone conversion and I stopped my search shortly after that. If you are interested in checking it out, Calendly has a free option that gives you the ability to create 1 event type.
To my knowledge, the one thing that Calendly doesn’t do is accept payment at the time of scheduling. They might in the future though.
2) SelfControl App
This is a little embarrassing. I found this free app while researching resources for parents. Yes, this is a recommended tool for parents to block social media and other sites for teens needing to focus on homework.
Awesome. Big ego boost right there.
Lucky for me their marketing highlights the uses for professionals. More importantly, the SelfControl app is incredibly effective. And free.
Still, whenever I see that little skull on my computer, I know how I came across it.
So let’s break it down. We all know which sites are time sucks. You promise yourself you’ll just glance on Facebook, peruse Reddit or do a quick check on the news. It never works out that way. Remember point #1, the false promise of logging into social media for business?
You know what the sites are. Now you can block them.
The SelfControl App has you customize a website list of all those distraction sites you know you shouldn’t be visiting while working. Once you open the app, you set the specific timeframe you want to remain distraction-free. Then wahla, you no longer have access.
You can even turn your computer off or uninstall the app and it won’t grant you access until the set time is up. I’m sure this is the aspect that made it such a great parenting tool.
In short, this app keeps you honest. A little too honest if you ask me, but alas I rely on it.
While SelfControl is for Macs, there are similar apps for windows. Since I’m a Mac girl through and through, I haven’t explored any yet. That’s why I’m outsourcing the windows recommendation. Here is an article exploring alternatives for all those windows users out there.
1) Track Your Time
Want a one two punch to saving the most time in your week?
I thought so.
The fastest way to figuring out exactly what is stealing your time is tracking it. You’ll quickly discover the culprit stealing away those ten precious hours a week.
I’m not going to lie. This isn’t an easy process. It might take a few days to get the hang of. What I can promise you is that it will be incredibly insightful after only a day or two. After reviewing your time spending habits for a full week, you will have a new outlook on ways you can save time and get more out of your week.
To get you started, I have an excel spreadsheet to help. Start by customizing the different slots where you invest your time each week. Then you can either print it out or track on your computer.
The key is to check in every half hour or hour throughout the day. Turns out it is also a great productivity exercise.
Get your time back! Download your time tracker today.
If you spend a lot of time on the computer like I do Rescue Time is another great resource. It automatically tracks where you spend your time on the computer whether it is time maintaining your store or surfing through facebook.
What are the ways you save time and energy throughout the week? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know.