Overwhelmed by insurmountable tasks, projects, email, clients and social media?
In this post I share 9 Life-Saving Tools that will systemize your business.
These tools automate the tasks that were weighing me down.. leaving me to be more productive and focus on what I NEED to work on, by freeing up my time. They can systemize your business too.
Now I should say, before we dive in, that I am by NO means perfect, and I struggle daily with being organised and productive.
I’m a creative soul – why do you think I post on this blog more about creating visual content than I do about analytics, or systems or time management? Because I would rather play.
Near burn-out in 2014 led me to fix a few things. The Taurean in me likes routine but I find it hard to maintain. So I needed some systems and tools to help me keep on track.
Some of these tools are for small teams like mine (I have 4 contractors helping me for small projects), and some are for solo business owners. Just bear in mind, that if your business starts cranking, you might want to consider bringing on some help like a Virtual Assistant. When you do, come back to this post because you will WANT to use some of these tools!
So, in the spirit of time-saving and productivity, let’s jump in and take a look at the tools!
It took me a while to come around to the idea of using a tool like Asana to move beyond Calendars but working in a team nudged me into it. The biggest bonus of moving to Asana is that it helped to free up my email (such a HUGE relief) because all conversations happened in Asana (or in another tool “Slack” which I will explain in a moment).
Although Asana is designed for teams, you could use it as an individual too. It helps you keep on task, but here are a few things I love about working in a team with Asana:
- It splits your “to do” list up into actionable tasks based on due date, team member allocated, and project. We can work on bigger projects as a team, or focus on small tasks as individuals – all in the same system.
- The delegation possibilities are fabulous with Asana. Previously I was more reluctant to delegate (because let’s face it, I’m not good at it) but also it was a chore as I didn’t have a good system. Now I have a system for passing on tasks, within Asana, and it’s easy. I find myself delegating more and more little jobs.
- It works seamlessly with Google Drive and Dropbox to share files within projects.
- I can easily see a spread of projects, my own tasks, things my team are working on, calendar and discussions.
- Asana just updated their interface so it is easier and more pleasant to use.
- The chat/comments are integrated with tasks – you get notified on your desktop or mobile (yes, there IS an app for those of you that like working on the move).
- There are loads of shortcuts you can do with your keyboard allowing you to do things like quickly add new tasks when you are in the middle of something, without leaving your screen. I get more productive every day I use it.
- It’s freakin’ FREE! Yes you can upgrade to a paid premium level, but so far it serves my needs on the Free version and I will upgrade soon I am sure. We have my content manager, my automation manager and my developer all using Asana effectively and I am loving it.
Ontraport runs my business. It brings all my business tools, data and customer information into one hub. I switched to Ontraport for email marketing but it is so much more than that.
Choosing to upgrade form Aweber to Ontraport was HUGE for me. But I knew that I needed to move from a regular email management system to one of the big players – a true marketing automation system – if I was to grow my business without needing to be IN it so much (and going crazy).
Ontraport allows you to market your business using email, SMS, postcards and more (I mainly use it for email) – AND you can sell your products, programs and services seamlessly with payment processing for Paypal or your merchant provider.
Infusionsoft or Hubspot are the other big players here, but to be honest I went with the one that seemed the easiest to use, and had great support (see below)… and it has been great. I’ve outlined a few other reasons why I love Ontraport below. As always, I only recommend products and services that I actually USE and love for you:
- Ontraport is an investment, for sure. It starts at $297 USD per month for full functionality with “Pro” level, but it can pay for itself with just one program sale or client booking, so it’s been tooooootally worth it or me. I wish I had switched earlier, because of how it changed my business.
- The good news is that YOU can switch to the world of Ontaport for much less cost now. Ontraport just released Ontraport Basic which is a basic version of Ontraport – at just $79 per month you get all the basic functionality of Ontraport without the cost. It includes segmenting of lists with tagging and adding to sequences, and some basic automation including basic rules (ie if this person does this, then do that). It also has double opt-in functionality for email. Why not start with “Basic” level and then upgrade when you truly need to?
Click here to learn more about the Pricing of Ontraport
- “Pro” Level Ontraport is the full system. It allows full automation such as segmenting that allows you to send the right message to the right person at the right time.
- Ontraport has an in-built CRM so you can track your prospects and clients
- It has a membership site built in (super handy if you want to create online programs)
- You can sell products based on trials, subscriptions, one-time payments, payment plans, coupons and one-click upsells.
- You can manage your contacts based on their activity and find out who your super fans/super clients are.
- so many other email systems require you to buy additional tools or plugins – Ontraport includes a lot of what you need ….IN Ontraport!
- The Ontraport team has exceptional customer service. I mean their CEO hangs out in the Facebook Group. I can’t even begin to explain how impressive that is.
NEW AND EXCITING: You can now create beautiful order forms as well as high-converting lead capture pages with Ontrapages (all responsive on all devices!). Ontrapages is part of Ontraport BUT they have a free version for up to 10 pages or for $15 per month anyone can build 25 pages on their own domain. This is game changing for Ontraport as it now removes the need for more extra tools and plugins.
Oh and if you only knew Ontraport when they were still called Office Autopilot, come check them out again… it’s a whole other machine and is a stratosphere away from its earlier version.
I love love love Slack. It’s seriously fun to use. It allows me to communicate with my team seamlessly and it’s just fun to use (did I say that already).
Slack‘s tagline is Be Less Busy. I could stop here, really, couldn’t I?
You may have heard me mention Slack before – I
talked raved about it here too.
I can’t possibly do Slack justice though, so I’ll leave it up to the team from Sandwich Video to show you how it works and why it’s so awesome:
See? I can’t explain it quite like the guys from Sandwich, so I will leave it there. But let me say one thing:
Slack will pull you out of Email Quicksand.. fast.
It really will.
#4 Deadline Funnel
Deadline Funnel has changed my business – it allows me to not only sell programs live via webinars but to allow my customers to enter into mini-launches, fully automated, that have timers counting down to the end of cart. Deadline Funnel works while I sleep!
Deadline Funnel countdown timers are personlized to each visitor, whether they are reading an email or looking at a sales page that is about to close. If a deadline funnel timer says that a sales page is going to close at 11.59pm, it will close. And you can sleep through it! It truly is like having an extra pair of Virtual Assistant Hands in your business.
And as I mentioned, you can use the timers on emails and webinars too, so it’s super versatile and works really well with Lead Pages and Ontraport.
#5 Lead Pages
You can check it out here. Lead Pages also list their pages in the order of how well they convert, which can take a LOT of guesswork out the equation for you!
Now all I have to do is send the Calendly link to someone and they can book in for the time that suits. It all syncs with my Google Calendar (just like V-Cita does) and frees me up to work in blocks for projects uninterrupted.
Well, somewhat uninterrupted. I do have a Tonkinese cat.
#7 Google Calendar
#8 Go To Webinar
#9 Cloud Storage
I love to use Dropbox for our big files like videos and PDFs for programs, graphic files etc, but we use Google Docs for those documents that require many team members to work on in real time – the syncing is immediate so less chance of someone over-riding something. I had to mention these as they both work with Slack and Asana so it’s a good fit all round!
I do recommend that you do a file Audit on a regular basis if you are working in a team – to tidy things up and make sure everyone is filing in way you intend them to. But these two tools keep my business ticking…I shudder to think what we used to do when we had to back up with floppy discs! Long live the cloud!
How does it all fit together?
These tools help to free up my time in some way or, better still, improve my focus . I can’t manage “time” – it ticks away regardless. But I CAN manage my focus. All of these tools allow me to streamline processes, and get focused, which includes delegating some tasks to my team.
What about you?
What tools save you time? Which ones from this list will you be trying now? Please leave a comment below!