By Louisa Wood, Anything Goes Lifestyle Contributor
Recently, I attended a training session as part of Cheerleader in Your Pocket, an online accountability group that offers support and inspiration to women, whether they’re working, growing businesses or simply just wanting to become the best version of themselves.
The monthly training brings in guest speakers who share their wisdom and knowledge on a range of different topics. This month’s session was titled “How to work smart, procrastinate less and get a better work-life balance” by Nikki Wheeldon, a productivity coach, and serial entrepreneur.
Nikki shared an hour of advice and inspiration that I wouldn’t be able to do justice to repeating here. However, she also shared some amazing tech that can help busy people get a handle on all the things that need doing.
Finance tech tools
It’s obviously nice if you can get to the point where you have a bookkeeper or a finance team or all this kind of stuff but for most people, they’re managing their finances on their own, whether that’s personal or business finances. Here are some suggestions of tools that you can use to make it easier.
Accounting software is becoming more of a necessity because of tax going digital. Soon, you’re going to have to use an accounting software. There are big, well-known ones like Xero but there are also other options.
If you have a Natwest business account, you get FreeAgent for free. It’s a cloud-based accounting software so worth considering.
If you’re a freelancer, Coconut is a good option. It has a tool that estimates your tax for you. Every time you get any income, you can set it to automatically take a percentage of that income and put it in your tax vault. This means you’re putting aside money that you need if you’re self-employed for your tax bill so you don’t accidentally spend it.
Soldo and Clio are maybe less relevant depending on what you what you’re doing. They are prepaid cards that you can give out to a team and it helps you manage expenses. Every time you use them you have to add a receipt onto the platform so it means you don’t lose them or can’t remember what a purchase relates to.
Clio has a feature called Clio Bills where you can forward invoices to an email address in the software. It then pulls all the details out of the invoice, sets up a supplier automatically for you so all you have to do is click and pay. This removes the need to set them up in your online banking and inputting all the details. This is especially useful if you have regular payments to make, particularly if there are quite a few of them and will save you a lot of time.
Time tracking is something that often people think isn’t relevant to them but it’s so useful. If you run a business that is dependent on hours, then obviously it goes without saying that using time tracking software is an absolute necessity. Then you’re not putting stuff into a spreadsheet and faffing about. You just hit go, it starts to track your time and it automatically logs it.
What’s interesting with time tracking is that sometimes you could track your time even though you don’t need to as a way of seeing how long you’re spending on things. You might get to the end of the day and think, ‘How on earth have I not got on with all of this stuff today?’. Start tracking your time you might find that when you nip out for 10 minutes to grab lunch, you’re actually spending 45 minutes. It allows you to start checking what you’re spending time on.
If you’re somebody that charges a block amount for a service, sometimes what’s interesting is to track your time to see if you’re accidentally working a national minimum wage (or below!). You might find that you’re charging a certain amount for a service because you think you’re doing a certain number of hours. If you start properly tracking it you might find that actually you’re doing way more hours and if you work that out at an hourly rate, you’re potentially losing money.
FreeAgent has a time tracking element included so you could combine that with using it for your accounts too.
Clockify and Toggl are two free pieces of software you can get online for easy time tracking.
ClickUp is a task management software, which also has time tracking so you can log all your tasks on there. At the same time, you can log how long you’ve spent on each task.
Talking of task management, there are loads and loads of task management apps that are essentially digital to-do lists. Some people simply prefer a pen and paper. I certainly do but what’s good about these apps is that if you’re out and about you suddenly think of something that you need to do you can literally just go onto your phone and add it. If you have team, you can assign it to somebody. If not, you can assign it to yourself with a set date and a time so it’s less likely to slip through the net.
Asana is a really good tool for task management. Trello is quite a popular one for using in all sorts of different ways and ClickUp again is really good for task management. It also has lots of other features, like documents and forms.
Loom is a really brilliant tool for if you need to share instructions or something like that with somebody. It’s free up to a certain amount of time.
It is a bit like recording a Zoom call as it will record your screen and pop you in a little bubble in the bottom corner, chatting away. This is useful if you need to work with somebody on something but it’s difficult to organize a call where you’re both free. It also reduces time spent making small talk or getting distracted by other topics when you’re on a call. Instead, you record a loom chatting through what you need, send them the loom, they can watch it in their own time, even at double speed if they want but they can also go back and reference it so they’re not having to come back to you to ask you questions.
You could do similar with screen recorder apps or even WhatsApp voicenote.
This is something that people don’t think about in a time-saving capacity but can save you a significant amount of time. We’ve all been there – you go to log into something, you can’t find your password, you have to do a password reset, they don’t send the reset, it goes into your spam…Next thing you know, you spent 15 minutes trying to log into something.
Password management just means that it’s all saved on a system so you can just log in and it inputs the password.
It’s also far securer and if you’re working in a team, you can share passwords in a much secure way.
They can also provide passwords for you so that you’re making sure that you’re choosing really secure passwords, reducing the risk of hacking.
LastPass and 1Password are a couple of suggestions. There are also various authenticators, a Google one, a Microsoft one, and many others. Rather than having a password, you have a code sent to your phone. It can save you a lot of time.
Fireflies is an app that goes on Zoom with you, records the conversation and transcribes it. It can be a really useful way to transcribe the call. All these sorts of things are not always completely accurate so you do need to edit them.
Otter.ai is another option that’s quite well-known for transcription. It’s quite useful if you do podcasts and things like that because what you can transcribe them and put that on your blog without you having to type it all out.
It’s also very useful for taking notes in meetings, particularly if you suffer with RSI or struggle with things like dyslexia.
Rocketbook is a physical notebook that you write in, take a picture with the app and it will change it into text for you. It also uploads it into a Google Drive. They’re much cheaper other options, like a Remarkable, which is around £400 compared to the Rocketbook for around £30.
The new Apple iOS update means you can now do that with your phone camera.
Evernote and Google Keep are ways to make notes. Sometimes, people have a Google Workspace with their Gmail account and they don’t realize that you also get Google Sheets and Google Docs, which are like Microsoft Word and Excel. You also get Google Keep, which is free, and you can use it everywhere. There is also a Microsoft equivalent.
This is a really important tool when we’re talking about procrastination. We live in an age where it’s not always our fault! We’re contactable all the time and it’s very hard to switch off.
Serene is one tool that you can have on your computer. Choose something you want to do, tell Serene that you’ll be completing it from this time to this time and hit go. If you try to go to a website, browse on ASOS, etc, it will stop you. Every time you go on to a new website, it will ask whether you would like to block that website during those times. It gets smarter and smarter the more you use it.
Freedom is very similar but you can use it across all sorts of different devices. You can also set timers to block certain things during certain times.
The new iOS update on Apple also has a similar thing you can do on your phone.
Forest is a really cute app where you plant a digital tree when you’re going to start doing something. Let’s say you’re going to write a report, you click go and it plants a little tree and it starts to grow. If you come off the app to go on to anything else, it kills the tree. If you have the pro version, they actually plant a tree as well. It’s a really good way to make you realise how often you pick up your phone.
A couple of extras
Drift is a free plug-in live chat software that website visitors can message and it comes through to your phone. This saves so much time compared to if somebody were to send an email requesting to set up a call and then you reply and they reply and it can take three days to just get it booked. Instead, somebody pops up on live chat and you can reply to their question much quicker. When people are on your website, they sometimes want to know the answer to something they want to know if it’s worth their time.
If you have several projects going on at once, utilise your Google Chrome profiles. Set up a free Gmail account for a new project and log into the Chrome browser with that. You can then have all the website tabs open you need for that project. When you start work on another, you do the same thing. You can set it so that whenever you open that profile, all those things just automatically load up. It saves you so much time and allows you to start to just focus on just the things that you need.
What apps do you use to make life easier? Let us know in the comments below- you could help out another reader!