Are you a busy mum running your own business? When you are trying to balance work around school runs and after school activities, it is so important to use your time effectively. That means using the best tools possible that will allow you to be efficient, without it costing a fortune.
Here is a round-up of my favourite free tools that allow me to maximise my effectiveness:
I worked with a client who struggled with time management – we explored the Pomodoro technique and now I use Pomodoros all the time. So what is it? It’s a time management technique that Francesco Cirillo developed for a more productive approach to work and study. Very simply, you decide what task you need to do. You set your Pomodoro or timer to 25 minutes. You work in a very focussed way until the timer expires, then you take a short 5 minute break. You keep working in this way, and after four pomodoros, you take a long break of 10 minutes. You can read more about the technique here. TomatoTimer is my favourite online Pomodoro timer. It’s simple to use and gives me an alert on my desktop when the 25 minutes is up. Then I make use of the 5 minute short break to get up, walk around, stretch out my shoulders, a few squats, do a little dance or have a cup of tea.
Evernote is a great online tool that allows you to collect notes, ideas and research. I use it for planning workshops, saving landing or sales pages that I like, notes for my book, potential speakers for my monthly interviews, and so much more. Here’s a snippet of my list of Notebooks in Evernote to give you an idea of how it can be used.
You can use it on your desktop but you can use while you’re away from your regular desk or computer. And if, like me, you have a desktop computer and a laptop, you can synch notes across different devices. You can clip from the web to save text and image from websites including the full URL; you can set alarms and reminders; you can search your notes and so much more. There’s a payable Premium account option too which provides more facilities and more storage space.
When you work on a time for money basis like me, it’s easy to waste time sending emails back & forth to arrange appointments with clients. There are several free scheduling tools available and my favourite is TimeTrade.
Here’s how it works: you specify how long you want appointments to be; your preferred time slots e.g. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; then TimeTrade gives you a link which you post wherever you need it e.g. on your blog, website, email, Facebook etc.
You can synchronise with your calendar so that the available slots are always up-to-date. The other bonus I have found is that I am more structured in my working day. I now book time in my calendar for blog writing, book editing, admin work etc so that those important tasks don’t get pushed aside.
Click here to see from the client perspective.
This is a great tool for recording and editing sound e.g interviews, coaching sessions etc. I’ll be honest, it’s a bit confusing to start with. For a professional touch, I recommend expert help. My go-to-person on anything to do with audio content is Viv Oyolu. Viv is THE Audio Marketing Expert and really knows her stuff. Tell I sent you.
I have been on Twitter for a few years now. I manage five Twitter accounts – two for clients, and three for my business. Twitter has grown enormously since I joined in 2009. When I first started I was responsible for the social media engagement for my employer and for the charity I volunteer for. Occasionally I messed up with tweets. It could have been incredibly embarrassing. Fortunately there was no harm done. However I realised early on that I needed a tool to allow me to run more than one account so that I didn’t tweet about breastfeeding support from my employer’s account. I tried Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. I preferred Hootsuite and that’s where I’ve been ever since. Hootsuite is useful even if you only run one Twitter account because it allows you to schedule tweets. It allows you to manage across several social media platforms. It makes it easy to share the social media responsibility with another team member.
Just a few of my favourite free tools to help the busy mum be more effective in her business. What about you? What’s your favourite free tool? Do leave me a comment below..