4 Time Management Tools You Need in 2018

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Time management is something we all struggle with at one time or another – whether that be in your personal life or your professional life. But if there were tools out there that could help you get just one hour of your life back a day to spend with your kids, your spouse, your friends/family or just some quiet time to yourself, would you use them? If your answer is a resounding “hell yes,” than this is the post for you.

After coming off of one of the most stressful years of my life in 2016, I knew I had to make some big changes in 2017 if I wanted to continue to grow my business while still maintaining some semblance of work-life balance. I was burning the candle at all ends (including ones I didn’t even know I had). It was affecting my health, my sleep, my relationships and my sanity. If I wanted to make a change I knew I was going to have to force myself out of my comfort zone, challenge my norms, shift my thinking, give up control, trust in technology and automate.

Now, I realize that’s a lot of big scary “asks” all shoved into one tiny sentence, but I promise you, if you commit to incorporating just one of these tools, the payoff will be immediate.  So, without further adieu, let’s get to the good stuff.

#1: Get on a Project Management System (My Holy Grail … ASANA)

If you manage multiple clients, projects, tasks, etc. or simply want a better way of keeping track of all of your to-do’s, then invest your time and energy into an effective project management system. It will immediately help you streamline your workflows, keep you accountable, increase productivity, track your progress and remind you of tasks that need to be completed or are overdue. Now, there are several project management systems out on the market (Basecamp, Trello, Zoho, Workfront, Hive, etc.) but for me personally, my holy grail is Asana. It’s super easy to use, the setup time is instant, it’s free for up to 15 team members and it’s always accessible to me via their mobile app. Asana also offers several integrations for charts, time tracking, budget management, email list building and more.

Bonus: If you’re anything like me and you need instant gratification when a task is complete, then you’ll love Asana’s ‘Extra Delights’ feature. Under your profile settings you can choose to receive additional celebrations and delightful surprises when you mark a task complete. The best part is you never know when this milestone moment is going to happen. For a quick peek of what I’m talking about view my Insta Stories on the Blog Highlights.

An example of my Asana dashboard and team calendar.

An example of my Asana dashboard and team calendar.

#2: Invest in an Online Assistant (My Holy Grail … ACUITY SCHEDULING)

Raise your hand if you currently spend 22 emails going back and forth with clients to schedule a call or meeting, only to have to reschedule and then reschedule again? Or worse, you’re trying to juggle multiple calendars all on different apps while trying to prevent over booking due to syncing issues? For me, my biggest challenge was not having the time to go back and forth over several emails to arrange a meeting or a conference call. Acuity Scheduling solved all of that for me. This comprehensive scheduling software allows me to set up my availability in the calendar by day, week or month, block times I’m not available, set up the types of appointments and calls I generally have requested and then it handles the rest. Now when clients want to schedule a meeting or conference call, I send them the link to choose their preferred day/time, it sends them an automatic email confirmation and automatically schedules the apt. in my Outlook calendar. It also sends a reminder email/text to the client just before our scheduled time. If they need to cancel/reschedule, no problem … they can do so right from the link.

I've covered a more comprehensive walkthrough of Acuity's features on my Insta stories - head over to my Blog Highlights to check it out.

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#3: Set Social Boundaries (Holy Grail … iPHONE TIMER APP & MOMENT APP)

Now this first one is going to sound really simple to implement from a technology standpoint because technologically speaking, it’s a no-brainer. The struggle is the paradigm shift in setting up boundaries for how much time you commit to spending on social media for your business each day … and then sticking to those boundaries. Let me tell you, the first time I tracked just how much time I spent scrolling my business Facebook and Instagram feeds, and responding to comments, likes, etc. with the Timer app on my iPhone, I was shocked. In my mind it had only been 15-20 minutes. In reality, it was almost 75 minutes!! If you really want to make the changes necessary to better time manage during business hours, setting boundaries with your social media will be key to getting that hour of your life back. Now, if social media management is your job, then this boundary may be a bit more challenging. However, there are other time management tools, scheduling apps, etc. that can help streamline those processes and I’m happy to talk about those in a later post. (Hootsuite, Planoly, Iconosquare, etc.)

            BONUS: To take this time-saving tool a step further, there is also a free app called Moment that is available for download. Moment not only holds you accountable by showing you exactly how many times you picked up your phone and how much screen time you logged, but it also has settings that allow you to set daily limits on your screen time and send gentle reminders to log off!

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#4: Hire a Virtual Assistant (My Holy Grail…Julie)

I preface this one by saying, if your business is at a place where you can commit to this monthly investment, it is worth every single penny. Many virtual assistants (like Julie) offer packages where you pay for a certain number of hours for a flat fee and then it’s up to you to manage how those hours are best spent based on the scope of services required. I’ve hired (and still do) marketing VA’s to help me with various digital marketing/social media tasks such as uploading email content into Mailchimp and deploying, making edits to client websites, uploading/scheduling weekly social media content calendars into Hootsuite, etc. but Julie was specifically hired to help me. She is my scheduling Sherpa, my research resource, my conference-call-in-the-car shadow, and most importantly my client firewall when I’m writing, brainstorming, in a meeting or on deadline. It’s important for me to be able to offer my clients exceptional service and fast follow up even when I’m not available, and Julie allows me the flexibility to do that. She is an extension of my brand promise, my gateway to productivity and truly one of the best investments I've made for myself and my business. (Julie is the Founder and VA of Handsfree Virtual). If you’re in the market for a VA, she would be the perfect resource to get you connected.

While I don’t have the time management code completely cracked, I’m certainly in a much better place than I was a year ago. I'll be honest, some of these applications take a bit of time to setup on the front end, but the payoff long term is truly invaluable. My productivity has doubled which allows me the opportunity to be more present for my family and my friends while still providing my client's with an exceptional service experience. 

So, I'll leave you with this. What value do you put on your time? If you could get one hour of your day back, how would you choose to spend it? For me, that answer is simple, I’d spend it playing with my son, going on a date with my husband or just curling up by myself with a good book. I hope this post has given you some ideas for how you might be able to free up some of your time to focus on more of the important stuff.

I'd love to hear your feedback and if you're currently using any of these tools. Please leave me a comment below and be sure to follow my Instagram feed and stories for more tips and tools. Have a great day!

Enjoying that added hour with the family.  :)

Enjoying that added hour with the family.  :)

Carole Gurule