Welcome to the first installment of Friday Five, the perfect punctuation mark for your work week! Published weekly, Friday Five features five tidbits on topics dear to my heart. Whether it’s rocking girl boss status, sipping craft beer, planning the next adventure, or being a crazy dog mom, I’m a firm believer that community & sharing knowledge are the bomb. Let’s do this! I’m kicking off Friday Five with my favorite tools for a productive, prosperous business.
1) Simplified Planner by Emily Ley
Catch me in a coffee shop and you’ll no doubt find my gold pineapple planner nearby, either glued to my lap or open with helpful notes. 2016 marks my third year as a devout Simplified Planner user, and you wanna know why? Because I finally found a planner that truly works for me. I love having a full page devoted to each day and the helpful “Weekly Prep” reminders. Each Sunday it reminds me to meal plan for the week & tidy up for a clean slate. It even says, “Fill your ‘tank.’ Enjoy what matters most.” I love Emily Ley’s thoughtful yet no-nonense approach to design. She offers Daily & Weekly editions, along with an Academic version for those working in education fields. This year, she even launched a sleek new line called Dapperdesk, and though intended for gentlemen, I totally dig the camel leather look. It might even be my 2017 planner! Emily’s planners sell out crazy fast, so be sure to grab a spot on the waiting list if you’re interested.
Do you feel like your wheels are spinning when it comes to blogging & social media? You might have short bursts of consistent posting, following by long dry spells (I’ve been there until quite recently!). Or maybe you decide not to blog or post anything at all, because what’s the point? You see other business owners posting regularly and wonder how the heck they do it. Hint: It can be a major time-suck if you’re not using a system! If you’re like me, 100% of your business is generated by word of mouth & social media, so it’s essential that you strategize your social media & blogging! You need to have a plan. Most of us have tools to help us plan & schedule our content, like an editorial calendar. That’s where CoSchedule comes in. It’s part editorial calendar, part social media scheduler. It can be synced with your blog, so you can schedule blog posts on the CoSchedule calendar, and it will reflect on the backend of your blog. Once your post is done, you can schedule it and your corresponding social media posts. This eliminates the need to post on social media throughout the day every time you blog! Try it free for two weeks; it’s awesome.
Holy time-saver, batman! BlogStomp allows you to resize, collage, crop and watermark your images in one step. Let’s say I’m blogging a wedding. First, I’ll import my selected images into BlogStomp, then collage them together before “Stomping” them, which exports them into a folder. Not only are my images now optimized for web viewing, they are curated together visually to tell a story. Before BlogStomp, I would spend HOURS in Photoshop trying to achieve the same thing. This might be my biggest time-saving tool for workflow! Download a free trial here.
You know all those nitty-gritty things that keep your business running profitably? For me, the achilles heel has always been tracking mileage. Admittedly, I’m not the best at recording miles driven for business. I’ve tried the notebook-in-the-glovebox trick, the Notes on my iPhone trick, the Post-Its on the forehead trick, and nothing has stuck. Enter MileIQ. I discovered this app pretty recently, but am head-over-heels! MileIQ takes all of the legwork out of tracking your mileage. Every time you drive somewhere, it tracks the exact mileage, start & end points, and the write-off potential in dollars. It then allows you to classify Business v.s. Personal drives (you can even get really specific with categories, i.e. “Client Consultation,” “Drives Between Home & Studio,” etc.). The free version includes up to 40 drives per month, while the pro version (less than $5/month) includes unlimited drives & pays for itself in a month. Download MileIQ for free, and if you decide to upgrade to unlimited, you’ll get 20% off using this referral link. Trust me, your accountant will thank you!
5) Focus App
Hi. My name is Bailey, and I have shiny ball syndrome. It is dangerously easy for our minds to wander, especially with the tantalizing interwebs at our fingertips. Has this ever happened to you? One moment, you’re on task, writing a killer blog post, and suddenly you find yourself, four hours later, answering emails, with an empty WordPress box. When I need to put my nose to the grindstone (pretty much daily), I use Focus, a program that blocks distracting websites for a time period of your choosing. It comes with a pre-determined list of distracting sites, which you can totally customize to your needs. Focus helps me structure my days & stay on track. My favorite part? When I try to access those websites (often unconsciously), it pops up with a clean, bright screen featuring a motivational quote. Um, genius! I know how my brain likes to wander down the rabbit hole, so Focus has been a HUGE productivity booster! Download a free trial of Focus here.
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