Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a small kickback if you decide to give them a try. I’m not a blogger with tons of affiliates…I only promote the tools that I love and use constantly in my business.
Since I launched my business back in late 2019, I’ve learned a lot about both copywriting and running a successful business. But the lessons I’ve learned about productivity have, hands down been the most meaningful for helping me grow, scale, and stay on top of my work. So I’m excited to share my favorite productivity tools that have helped me as an entrepreneur.
Productivity is a HUGE deal for me as it is for most entrepreneurs. I think it’s because, for most of us, the shift from the 9-5 workday to working at home requires some serious and deliberate effort…especially if you worked the corporate life for years (or a decade+. Ahem. Cough.).
…and every other schedule out there.
The reality is that we all have a life and work that requires balance. When you’re in the corporate world, your work time is pre-defined. You have structured time in an office to complete your work (for better or worse), and when you leave, you’re back in life mode. I know it’s not always this simple, but the fact remains that when you’re part of an organization, someone else is influencing the way you spend your time. That accountability can be really helpful for productivity.
Once you’re working for yourself, though, YOU have to manage your time and own the output. You decide when and for how long you work.
And unfortunately, so do your friends and family. If you’re like me, daily life is constantly at the edges, demanding your attention. Dentist appointments, taking the cat to the vet, or global pandemics that require months of virtual learning…all these things change our ability to meet our goals and stay productive.
These are a few of the tools that have become integral to my daily life as an entrepreneur. They help me plan, manage, and complete the work that needs doing.
Best for time management
Hands down, RescueTime is the best investment I’ve made in my business to date. This handy tool tracks my mobile and web usage and tags every site I visit by very productive > very distracting. Facebook = very distracting. Google docs = very productive. You can customize your sites to suit what you know is productive or distracting for you (for example, I do a lot of client research on forums like Reddit, so I tend to flag this as productive time).
You can tag your time by categories if you want to see summaries of how you’re spending your time, too. I have categories that allow me to review my client block times as well as the amount of time I spend on communicating and networking across my email, Slack, and the like.
The tool collects all this data and puts together summaries to help you spot gaps, trends, and patterns, like this summary of my year (well, half-year since I signed up in July):
Finally, on the upgraded plan, you can set up FocusTime, which blocks you from accessing sites after you’ve hit your preset daily limit. I block Facebook and other distracting sites after one hour of daily use. You can decide how strict you need to be with yourself here.
Best for project management
I’ve seen and tried every PM tool out there over the years, and they always left me wanting more customization and control. Before I found Notion, I was using three different tools to track to-dos, goals, and marketing efforts. With Notion, I can do all of that and way more. If you enjoy having full control over your process, you’ll like this tool.
Plus, you can customize every entry with an emoji and cover image.
(Just sayin’, sometimes it’s the little things).
Here are some of the ways I use Notion:
I track my client work with pre-set templates, like this template for website copy projects:
I house SOPs, swipe files, templates, and coursework in one place for easy access. I have databases for my annual content calendar, marketing & social media efforts, and my goals. I set daily, monthly and quarterly goals, and use Notion to stay on top of them.
It’s the one place all of my business-related efforts are housed.
Best for goal management
I just recently discovered Panda Planners when I was browsing for my 2021 daily planner. I wanted something versatile that would help me reflect on my daily efforts more intentionally. Panda Planners are perfect for this. Each page is blank, so you don’t have to feel like you’re wasting paper if you miss a day. Each planner is divided into sections for monthly, weekly, and daily planning.
But what I love are the prompts. Each page has a section for goals, wins, and distractions to avoid. The daily logs also include things like affirmations, a section for gratitude, the ability to plan out your daily tasks, and a section to reflect. I love the gentle reminder to celebrate micro-wins, and the space to reflect just a bit every day.
Best for client management
Communication is not an area I’m naturally good at. I tend to get caught up in projects and forget to tell others where I’m at. With Honeybook, I can rest easy knowing my client knows what I’m up to and what’s next.
Before Honeybook, I found myself writing the same emails over and over when responding to both prospects and clients. Honeybook allows me to prepare workflows and templates one time and then reuse them across clients and projects.
It not only saves me loads of time having to rewrite the same messages to different people, but it also keeps me on track and allows me to provide consistently high-quality client experiences.
Best for Pinterest management
I know everyone and their uncle loves Tailwind these days, and I’m jumping on the bandwagon. It’s saved me hundreds of hours on Pinterest management. When I finally decided to invest in Tailwind, I was ready to give up on Pinterest altogether. I was expanding my reach on the platform but getting little to zero site visits from prospects. Plus, I was spending a TON of time creating pins, scheduling, and manually pinning. With Tailwind, I can do a month of Pinterest management in about 2-3 hours. And Tribes helps me know I’m getting my content in front of an audience who will actually want to engage with it. Pretty. Darn. Cool.
In a word: Slack.
Don’t get me wrong: Slack is a great tool for networking, connecting, and communication. But I’ve learned the hard way to control my Slack usage to achieve my goals each day.
As I write this, I’m in 12 Slack groups, and each one can throw me off track throughout the day. And has many times. My RescueTime dashboard logged 122 hours of Slack time in the back half of 2020. Imagine what I could have accomplished if I’d used those hours to improve my business!
Science shows us again and again that splitting our attention leads to poor performance and memory retention…and I think Slack is right up there with social media on this.
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