We’re into the second full week of the year and we’re still in the thick of ‘new year, new you’ articles online whether that be around your health, weight, detoxing, habits, productivity, business and the list goes on!
I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions as such but I do like the ‘turning over a new leaf-ness’ (did I just make that up?!) of January, as I do with ‘back to school’ September.
So what am I doing in relation to these things given it’s January and time for a ‘new leaf’?
Well, firstly, I’m not doing resolutions or setting myself unachievable goals. In fact, I’m purposely easing myself into 2015.
One of the people who I follow is Ari Meisel of Less Doing, More Living. I listen to podcasts all the time and Ari’s is one of my favourites. I reread his book over the Christmas holidays and reminded myself that I need to simplify my life and, once I’ve done that, automate and outsource more.
We’re trying to declutter and simplify things at home and I’m doing the same with my business stuff. On that basis I thought I would post a few websites and tools that I use that you might find useful in your own life and business.
I’ve been using Evernote for a few years but I’m really only just getting started! I backed up my files the other day and it said that it might take some time, and it took about 10 seconds…think I have some way to go to get anywhere near overwhelming its capability!
It’s basically a tool for taking notes. It syncs across all your devices and is amazingly searchable. I use it to take notes in meetings and on phone calls so that I need never write up my handwritten notes (which didn’t happen anyway, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear!). It’s so easy to find the notes again using the powerful search, as well as because I create Notebooks to file the notes in to give me a structure to what I’m saving.
In recent months I’ve started using the built in photo scanner to scan business cards that I collect. It reads the card and then fills in the details of the company, name, email etc without me needing to type those details in, as well as keeping an image of the card for future reference (another way to reduce the clutter in the house).
I also use Evernote to manage my recipe collection. There is a ‘web clipper’ that enables you to save recipes direct from a webpage, tagged as appropriate (I use tags like ‘gluten free’, ‘snacks’, ‘paleo’ etc). I also scan recipes from magazines and cookery books. You can then file them in a ‘recipe’ notebook and view them in Evernote. What I’ve recently discovered is their Evernote Food app that provides a snazzy interface to view the recipes as well as to record restaurant information and explore new recipes.
And since the beginning of the year I’ve started using the Evernote scanning function to scan paperwork and ‘memories’ stuff that would otherwise be clogging up the house. I don’t want to just throw stuff away but once I’ve scanned it I can. For example we got a lovely thank you letter from our nephews for their Christmas presents and I’ve just scanned it so we don’t have to keep it in our ‘paper mountain’! We will stick it on our noticeboard for a while but then it will go in the bin because I have it scanned on my computer.
If you aren’t sure where to begin with Evernote then I recommend this resource Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly.
IFTTT and Zapier
These two websites are great for setting up automation.
I have only just started using them so I don’t have much set up as yet but I will be exploring them further this year to get things automated.
IFTTT stands for ‘If This, Then That’, which should give you some idea of how it works!
For example, I use it to take the RSS feed from some of my favourite blogs and enter the new posts into my Pocket account so I can read the articles later, usually offline on the train. So, it runs as – If ‘a new post appears in the relevant feed’ Then ‘Add it to Pocket’.
I’ve also got a ‘recipe’ (that’s what they’re called!) set up to add all my social media posts to Evernote and automatically file them in a ‘social shares’ notebook in case I want to refer to them again.
In Zapier I have a ‘zap’ set up to transfer files from my husband’s phone uploads file in Dropbox to my photo folder in Dropbox so that any photos he takes on his phone find their way into our family photo files.
One of the cool things about both sites is that you can copy ‘recipes’ or ‘zaps’ that other people have created and make them work with your data. It’s a great way to get creative about using the tools.
I use Buffer in conjunction with my Pocket account to share content to social media platforms.
In Buffer you can set up a schedule for your social shares (individually by platform with an ‘Awesome’ plan) and then add content to a queue that gets published automatically in line with the schedule.
It’s a great way to consistently publish content without having great flurries when you are batching your time to create those shares, or when you’re in a reading frenzy that creates lots of share!
I have used Simpleology, a to do list and planning tool, for a few years now. I say ‘to do list’. It is actually much more powerful than that, although the software is based on lists.
Every day I go through a ‘start my day’ process to determine my priorities for the day (and the week) and I have a to do list to work from. If you are familiar with Getting Things Done (GTD) principles you will know how useful the Simpleology ‘Dreamcatcher’ is during the day as other stuff that I need to do pops into my head.
I can add new tasks to my ‘dreamcatcher’ from the browser or via email, which is what I usually do when I’m using my phone. Simpleology then keeps the items and adds them into the following day’s ‘start my day’ process so nothing gets missed and things don’t hang around in my head putting me off getting other stuff done!
There is a ‘delegation station’ and a project planning and management section as well as ‘engines’ to set up rules a bit like with IFTTT and Zapier to automate some of your planning. For example, If a task that I’ve just remembered to add to the dreamcatcher is urgent, by adding ‘donow’ to the beginning of the task before I save it, it gets added to my list for today.
I could go on and on with other tools and resources I use but I’ll stop there for now and share some more on other posts! It would be great to hear which tools you find useful in the comments below.
If you’re looking for ways to be more productive using your smartphone, you may be interested in downloading my mini report ‘My Favourite Productivity Apps’.
I am an affiliate for some of the things that I recommend. So just letting you know that, of you do buy anything, I may get a few £ or $. I only recommend stuff that I know is good, and usually that I’ve used or bought myself.