The Best Systems & Tools To Be More Efficient and Productive
I have worked with entrepreneurs in many fields over the past 15 years. What I’ve found most often is not only are they trying to do it all themselves, they are not using the tools available (often free) to work more efficiently.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about the tools and software I use and recommend to help you be more efficient and get more done. I’ll also discuss ways to leverage these tools so that they help you optimize your business systems and lifestyle even more efficiently. The best thing is that none of these tools are overly expensive, and some are even free!
Why You Need the Right Tools and Systems Now
As an entrepreneur, you’ve set your intentions to achieve the lifestyle you desire and you’re working your butt off to make it happen. You’ve built your business strategy, decided how many hours a week you want to devote to your business and the method of delivery.
Now it’s time to think about adding products or services, events or courses. This is where people inevitably fall over setting up the right systems and choosing the right tools to facilitate making their business run as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. Using the right tools will not only speed up your business, it will also:
- Cut down on costs
- Increase consistency
- Eliminate mistakes
- Give you a professional presence online
- Help you keep your mind and goals clear
- Move you steadily toward those goals
- Make the dull parts of your business-the admin stuff-go away or be more fun
When you choose the right productivity tools, you are letting technology do the ‘heavy lifting’ while cutting down on confusion. Automating repetitive tasks can simplify them, allowing you to concentrate on the most important parts of your business- product/package creation.
The good news is you don’t have to have separate systems for each specific task or function. For example, you can choose a scheduling and appointment system or software that includes and integrates other necessary tasks or functions. For example, automating payment options, sending client reminders-and automatically notifying you if a client cancels or changes an appointment. You can make sure your chosen scheduler integrates easily with your merchant account. The trick is to suit the system to your needs. Let’s look at those systems now.
Client Bookings and Applications
If you’re a coach or in another service business, booking and scheduling clients is one of the most basic needs. But it’s often gets taken for granted. Entrepreneurs tend to think of this as a single process: “The client makes an appointment”.
A good scheduling tool will do much more than that: It will fully automate client-business owner interactions while making it feel more personal and attentive than you can realistically be in person.
The right scheduling tool will eliminate:
- Chasing after clients
- Forgetting to send reminders
- Forgetting to update your appointment book if a client re-schedules
- Forgetting to contact the right team member
It’s like having a super-efficient virtual assistant who works 24–7, providing top quality customer service while you concentrate on the things that personally fulfill you.
Features needed in a scheduling system:
- Automatic reminders
- Automatic notification of schedule changes or cancellations
- Allows clients to cancel and reschedule without having to talk to you in person
- Assign tasks to specific team members, if you have them
- Ability to set hours you are available
And, kicking it up a notch, choose a scheduling tool that also…
This is especially important if you don’t have simple one-hour appointment blocks. Perhaps you offer 20-minute check-ins, half-day VIP spots, complimentary consultations and so forth. Choosing a scheduler that allows clients to select the type of appointment they need (with its own specific price point) ensures that your one-on-one coaching flows smoothly from one client to the next, with exactly the right amount of time needed for each specific type of session. Other features it’s nice to have in a scheduling tool…
- Automatic intake forms for new clients
- The ability to record messages and notes
Here are three of the best productivity tools to help you with these functions:
AcuityScheduling is very easy and intuitive to use. You can sign up instantly for a Solo account, which is free-no credit card required. The first thing you do is set your hours of availability, which allows any client to:
AcuityScheduling walks you through a simple set up, where you simply assign your availability, and designate whether or not these hours are regular or irregular.
In addition to selecting appointment types, you can also set up and personalize:
And the icing on the cake? It integrates with many other tools you will use in your business such as:
This brings us to our next super-productivity tool…
2. Google Calendar
You are probably already familiar with Google Calendar. It is a web browser extension that you can easily install. The beauty of Google Calendar is that it is clear, concise and integrates with other software and apps such as the AcuityScheduling.
In other words, if a client makes an appointment via your scheduling link, it will instantly appear in your Google Calendar, if you’ve synced it. So you don’t have to access Acuity to see if a client appointment conflicts with a webinar you want to watch-it will all be right there on Google Calendar. And it’s free.
In turn, you can:
- Sync Google Calendar with your smartphone
- Share it with someone (for example, your VA)
- Change or turn off Google notifications
And even see Google Calendar events on Apple Calendar. You can also find out how to set up and personalize these features and more by simply looking them up at Google Calendar Help .
Project and File Management
Project management is key both when you have multiple people involved in your business operations and even more so when you expand, and bring more people on board. (Because Teamwork is Dreamwork!)
Get yourself set up now for streamlined, effortless project and file management by using tools that systematize and automate:
Again, systematization and automation of recurring tasks and functions eliminates mistakes and omissions, and makes sure your projects flow smoothly with good communication. So let’s take a look at some especially useful and productive project/file management tools.
Asana is the work management platform teams use to stay focused on the goals, projects, and daily tasks that grow business. Asana’s strongest advantages include a simple, user-friendly interface and dashboard that allows you to easily oversee one project or many.
- Map out each step of your project and organize all the details of your work in one place.
- Visualize your work. Move work through multiple stages quickly.
- Bring emails, files, tickets, and more into Asana with over 100 integrations
- Manage your team’s workload
What tools like Asana truly do is take you from using several tools for project management to one central tool and system. And, it should be noted, you don’t just manage staff or freelancers with Asana: You can use it as a client management tool too.
2. Google Docs
If you need more storage than 2 GB, you can still find this for free-with Google Docs . When you first visit the Google Docs website, you’ll be offered a “tour”. Take it. You’ll quickly learn, going at your own pace through this simple slide tour, how easy it is to start a new document (or use a template), and invite team members to view, comment on or edit the document.
You’ll be introduced to tools such as the file picker icon, which allows you to browse your Google Drive folders, run a simple search, and more. By the time the tour is finished, that’s all you need to know about this wonderful, free file-sharing tool.
Google Docs syncs with Google drive and all your other Google apps, which you can access at any time simply by clicking on the Google grid icon in the top right corner of your Google Docs screen. The one thing you need to know about all these file sharing apps? Google Docs is great for file sharing, but if you need live collaboration, Google Drive and Google Docs gives you your best option.
And let’s not forget about that other great focusing and automating strategy: Outsourcing recurring tasks; or tasks that drain your energy and swallow your time whole. Sometimes, it’s simply easier and faster to send a task or assign a function of your business to a trusted professional who excels in that area.
Have you ever analyzed what tasks you accomplish during the day, especially on those days where you question where the day went and wished you had an extra eight hours to finish your to-do list? This is where to start: Sit down and write out a list of tasks you want your team to perform. Your list may include:
- Content writing & formatting
- Client support
- Course design & delivery
- Membership site setup and management
- Web design and maintenance
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Shopping cart management
Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to create a list of these tasks. You know you need a lot done but where do you start? I recommend writing down all the tasks you currently first. You may need to do this over the course of a few days or a week as you go through your normal routine. Next highlight all the tasks that don’t make you money directly. These are tasks you can outsource.
Think of how much time you will save if every one of these team members does their own jobs within the same 24 hour time period. You will definitely see faster growth in your business and become a highly successful entrepreneur.
If you’re tired of running ragged day in and day out, it’s time to learn some automation shortcuts that can help streamline your administrative business tasks. I’m sharing more automation shortcuts in my new book, so I hope you’ll grab a copy of Systems are Sexy! 7 Steps to Harness the Power of Automation and a Team To Create Your Dream Business.
Originally published at https://karenrepoli.com on June 7, 2021.