Everyone is busy these days. I don’t remember the last time I asked someone how they were doing without hearing the word “busy” or one of its cousins in response. I’m a “mommypreneur”, or a work at home mom juggling kids and a business. In other words, I have the “busy” that comes with having young children combined with the “busy” that goes along with having a growing WordPress business. If I can find some productivity tools that help me get things done, especially if they can automate things, I’m on it. All the better if the price is right. Free is key!
Productivity Tools for Anyone
I recently started looking for something to help me with project management and came across several productivity tools that qualified. Most tools fell under one of two categories: personal or team. What if I wanted something that could do both? I really needed a hybrid of sorts, where I could manage my personal tasks and have a place I could share with clients. When I found Trello, I was an immediate fan.
Imagine a white board with headings, and post-it notes under those headings that you can move from one place to another. Now imagine a virtual version of that, accessible online or in a mobile app. Organizational geeks everywhere rejoice! Even better, each post-it note can be expanded to include discussion, have checklists added to it, and support file uploads/attachments. Add the ability to color code and label items, and you’re really on fire.
Here’s the cool part. I can have multiple boards! Now, I do have a white board over my “desk”, in my “office”, but it’s pretty small, especially considering that my “office” is also a playroom, and my “desk” is sometimes covered with Barbie paraphernalia. Actually, I think my real white board is currently displaying something my little one drew on it, no doubt after having erased the list of current projects I had there. With multiple boards, I can manage my own tasks and share individual boards with clients for collaboration and communication.
As if all this weren’t enough, Trello is free. When I share a board with a client and he/she joins on my recommendation, I get a free month of Trello gold. This adds a few bonus features, such as using background images on boards. It does look pretty cool to use a pic of a client’s product, site, or logo as the background for that board. You can join Trello here!
Time is money. That’s nothing new. Knowing how you’re using your time and where it’s going helps you be more efficient. For that reason, one of the most important productivity tools for me is a good time tracker. I have used several things, but Toggl is my favorite one, by far.
With Toggl, you can start a timer for live tracking, or you can add something manually. This comes in really handy if you forgot to start the timer or want to track when you were in a meeting within a certain time frame. Time entries may also be attributed to specific clients and projects. That makes it even easier to see where your time is going. In my case, my maintenance clients pay for a plan that allows for up to a certain amount of my time, and this allows me to see how much of that time they have used.
I think my favorite thing about Toggl, however, is how well it interacts with other productivity tools I use. There’s a button on each card in Trello, so I can be consistent with time tracking from multiple applications. I just open the card, start the timer, and get to work. When I finish, I can stop the timer right there, too. You can learn more in this awesome Toggl review.
I’ve also had the habit, in the past, of leaving my timer running when I used other time trackers. Toggl sends you an email when your timer has been running for a long time to remind you that it’s still going. That has saved me several times. Since the basic plan that I use for just myself is free, the price is definitely right!
Hi, my name is Karen, and I’m addicted to Zaps. It kind of sounds like a drug, right? Zapier is an awesome automation tool that helps all your other productivity tools talk to one another. It’s really cool, and almost like wicked voodoo. You set up “zaps” so that when one action occurs, it triggers another. There are literally hundreds of apps that support it, but here are just a few ways that I use it:
- Gravity Forms –> Google Sheets: Basically, when someone submits a form on one of my WordPress sites, I can set it up to populate the information into a Google Sheet. I first started using this on the site I do for the East Carolina University Marching Pirates. When someone filled out the registration form for band camp, it went to a spreadsheet so the staff could manipulate the information.
- Gravity Forms –> Trello: When someone fills out the contact form on my website, it gets added to a “to contact” list I have on my personal Trello board.
- Twitter: Anytime I get a new follower on Twitter, this zap sends a tweet mentioning them and thanking them for the follow. I’ve had a ton more Twitter engagement since I started using this.
This is literally just the tip of the iceberg for Zapier. The use cases are too numerous to count, but you get the idea. It starts with a free account. I have moved up to a basic paid account now because I can set up automated tasks for clients.
Productivity Tools for Social Media
Social media is a must in today’s marketing world, so finding productivity tools that will help you manage this is really helpful. Again, I’ve used different sites for this, but Buffer is the one I’ve stuck with. You connect your social media profiles to your account and start using it to post to your accounts on your behalf. Your list of upcoming posts, or buffer, then sends automatically however you set it up. For example, I have mine set to post to Twitter 4 times a day and my LinkedIn/Facebook business page twice a day. I then send related articles, links, etc. to my Buffer list, and they get posted at the designated times.
Keep in mind that his doesn’t replace personal interaction on social media, but it can give you lots more exposure. When I find a something I want to share with followers, I simply use the browser extension to send it to my buffer. I can also view stats on how my posts have done.
Seriously, this is an amazing tool for a mommypreneur like me. It’s awesome to know that I can pick my sick child up from school or take my toddler to the zoo and know that my social media stuff posts itself. Again, I still go back and post some more personal items and interact with others. This automation has made this part of my business so much easier. Again, I’m using it for just my own social media, so a free account is more than sufficient.
Wow… this post is a lot longer than I thought it would be! I guess I’m just a productivity geek. At least I embrace it! I had two other tools specific to WordPress, but those will be a different post for a different day. In the meantime, rock your productivity tools, and keep swimming along!