7 great tools you can use to save time, project manage your tasks effectively and get more done

Yesterday I was looking at one of these ‘life hacker’ websites…

There was an article with over 3,000 shares on Facebook on how to organise your life.

At the time I was sat in my pyjamas next to a towering pile of ‘to read’ books, 3 empty coffee mugs and a post-it note on my screen that said “TOILET ROLL!!!!!!” (Not a password, I’d actually run out of toilet roll.)

I thought: “Ok, nice one, maybe I could do with some organising.”

So what amazing nuggets of divine wisdom were uncovered in the article?

Here are my 3 favourites from the list…

“Write Things Down”, “Don’t Procrastinate” and “Work Hard”

Err… life ‘hacks’?

Really?

Thanks Captain Obvious.

I mean, their points are largely correct I guess, in a totally obvious way…. but THREE THOUSAND SHARES ON FACEBOOK?

Now, from the state of my desk I’m not going to pretend I can turn your life around and give you a tidy home, all your bills paid, a well-stocked fridge and toilet roll.

But what I can do is show you some genuine shortcuts or ‘hacks’ for running your business in a more organised way.

7 great tools you can use to save time, project manage your tasks effectively and get more done

If you’re running an online business, you want a system that can help you cope with…

• Daily social media posts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn)
• Finding content for your blog post and emails
• Writing blog posts and emails
• Scheduling and uploading website content
• Scheduling and broadcasting email sends
• Looking at Google analytics and your email analytics
• Replying to website/email/social media comments and queries
• Writing and scheduling adverts, promotions, special offers
• Dealing with layout designers, writers, contributors and business partners
• Meetings and phone calls
• Product development and research
• Accounts and bookkeeping

Content marketing can really swallow up your time.

Readers and customers expect blog posts, emails and social media to be consistent and of high quality.

But getting this right can be tricky balance. You don’t want spend all of your time on these things and then fail to run the rest of your business.

Nor do you want to spend so much time in meetings, email conversations and business admin that you neglect your marketing.

The first thing to do is schedule your week in advance allocating slots to the most important jobs so that they get done.

For instance, if you have 12 hours (or two days) in the week spare for content marketing then you could plan it like this:

• 1 hour content finding and research
• 3 hours writing email newsletter
• 2 hours on blog post
• 30 minutes daily on Twitter (2.5 hours)
• 30 minutes daily on Facebook & other feeds (2.5 hours)
• 1 hour on email broadcasting and website uploading

Spread those out across the week, breaking them into smaller time slots if necessary.

My recommended tool for this is Google Calendar: https://calendar.google.com/.

It’s free and allows you to map out your weeks, months, even the whole year.

It enables you to…

• Enter tasks that you need to do every week on specific days, then repeat them, so they’re automatically booked in.
• Set up reminders and alerts for tasks.
• Access your schedule from any computer device, tablet or phone, simply by logging in online or accessing it via the app.
• Create ‘shared’ elements of the calendar that other people can see and edit (without seeing or having access to the rest of your calendar).

You now have a single portal that contains all your appointments, holidays and pre-scheduled “must-do” work tasks – for instance, every Monday I write a Digital Upstart eLetter, and the time is cordoned off in advance.

I then add in my other tasks for the week, knowing precisely how much I have time to do, and how much I need to either postpone or delegate.

This stops me making unrealistic promises to people about things I simply won’t have time to do…

That’s the basic schedule…

To get really organised, you might want to consider one of the many platforms that allows you to gather and store content, then share, delegated and schedule it with your freelancers, staff, colleagues or business partners.

Most of these are free to use or trial. Here are our top suggestions…

Google Drive https://www.google.com/drive/ – Think of it a bit like a hard drive or a USB stick that lives online. Google Drive allows you to store content on a cloud and share it with others (and vice versa) which makes it great for collaborating on projects where you need to share large files. You can get 15GB for free. Dropbox https://www.dropbox.com/ is also an excellent option and I recommend using both.

Facebook Workplace https://www.facebook.com/workplace – This is Facebook’s answer to project management and it’s currently free. You can manage freelancers/staff and projects from one place and use a Facebook-style interface for communicating and sharing ideas.

Basecamp https://basecamp.com – a well established, premium tool which helps you to project manage, schedule and track tasks from wherever you might be. You can even get automated email alerts to keep you on target. If you’re got the budget this is worth looking at. Comes with a 30-day trial.

Asana https://asana.com – Asana is a free tool for up to 15 members and has a nice, simple user interface with tasks you can link to different team members.

Trello https://trello.com – A couple of the DU team use this one, I’m personally not a huge fan. Think Pinterest but for project management. You can arrange things in terms of priority, completed tasks and store useful articles and content (it’s free to get started).

Slack https://slack.com – This is another tool which brings teams together in a single online space. It’s a slick offering and used by a number of big brands such as M&S, Udemy and Ocado. There’s a free option available which has some restrictions.

Try one of these and at the very least, you’ll have a centralised scheduled work plan for the week, month, even the year.

They won’t tidy your house, walk the dog or phone the council about that funny gas smell…

But they’ll make your content marketing a lot easier and more effective.

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