Here you’ll find my ultimate toolkit of productivity and business tools that allow me to systemize, automate and delegate tasks, saving hundreds of hours a month. Use these tools wisely!
Google Calendar is my favorite calendar and scheduler. You can keep track of all your appointments and meetings with it, and it will even send reminders to others if you want. Google Calendar will also sync with any Smartphone to send you reminders about your appointments. You can also set it up to get email notification reminders about appointments. You’ll never forget an appointment again—even when traveling internationally!
You might also want to use a physical calendar or scheduler as a backup just in case.
Project Management Tools
Basecamp is a powerful project management tool that is simple, easy to use and works very well. Highly recommended for medium to large organizations with numerous team projects.
SurveyMonkey is a great way to create quick and easy surveys for your customers.
One of the best ways to save time is by not scheduling unnecessary appointments or meetings. But we all have to schedule things, so why not use a scheduling app that helps save you time when making appointments?
Aweber is the service I use and I like it the best in terms of their customer service, deliverability and quality.
MailChimp has a free offering but I never recommend it because it’s got serious limitations for serious marketers and is not nearly as scalable as other autoresponders.
ConstantContact works well and is a close 2nd to Aweber in my opinion.
Mad Mimi is a new kid on the block and has a free program which I haven’t used but I hear is better than MailChimp according to some internet marketing colleagues.
Google Plus+ Video Hangouts
A Google Plus+ Video Hangout is an awesome way to create a free “webinar” or class online. It’s absolutely free to use and you can record it and upload it to YouTube with the push of a button. It’s an awesome way to record online classes, web TV interviews and 1-1 coaching sessions with clients.
With Gmail or other webmail program. Create a FUN, ENTERTAINING, INTERESTING and VALUABLE auto-response. You WANT people to read it and like it.
For example, I wrote:
You’re not going to believe this, but right now I’m sipping Mai Thais on the beautiful beaches of Thailand. Or maybe I’m swimming with penguins in South Africa. Well, either way, I’m doing this crazy 90-day trip around the world with my fiancé and it’s pretty awesome. Heck, who am I kidding, IT ROCKS! I’m having the best time of my life!
And want to know the cool part? My business is growing even faster now that I’m gone than it was when I was working very day at home.
Want to know how I’m earning more money by NOT working than I was when I was working every day? I’m going to share all these lifestyle and business secrets with you in my new book Systemize, Automate, Delegate.
You can get on the special waiting list here to get a sneak peek of what it’s all about: www.ebookpublishingschool.com
Make today the best day ever!
To your success,
Wow, you read this whole email? Good for you! You deserve a 3-month vacation too! Get yours here: [LINK]”
Boomerang is a very helpful app for Gmail users. You can use it to keep track of email conversations and remind yourself to follow up with people if you don’t hear from them after a certain period of time. You’ll never lose track of a new prospect or important conversation again if you use Boomerang.
Streak is an awesome Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software that will plugin with your email system and allow you to keep track of customers as well as send emails in the future which can be handy.
Unroll.me is an awesome service that will help you reduce email overload. I use Unroll which will sort all your newsletters, let you unsubscribe from them and then combine all unnecessary emails from senders you choose to be sent only one time per day in one large email compiled with each individual email inside it. So instead of getting 15 unimportant emails all day long, you get the one “Rollup” from Unroll and you can keep your inbox cleaner while still having access to those emails that might be important at some point.
Use Gmail for filters
I use Gmail for email because it’s just awesome. It will store an almost unlimited number of emails (I’ve never had a problem storing my hundreds of thousands of emails over the last 5 years).
Another awesome thing with Gmail is that it will let you filter emails before they ever reach your inbox. Here’s how you can use this filtering tool:
Automatically delete any emails from certain senders or that contain certain words or subject lines.
I use this function to delete any spam messages I get from people who have newsletters without an unsubscribe button and people who send out chain letters, political emails or other time-wasters.
Automatically Add Certain Types of Emails To Folders for Later Use
I often get updates about my business or other issues through email, and many of these messages just aren’t important when they’re sent. Examples include training video courses or newsletters from internet marketing experts or competitors. I can store all these in a separate folder using Gmail filters and then they never reach my inbox—they go straight to a folder that I can view later when I need them.
Stay Away From Unnecessary Newsletters
Unsubscribe from any email lists that are not absolutely necessary. Or create a filter and send them to a folder that you can check whenever you want. That way your inbox won’t be cluttered with marketing from other businesses.
Clear It To Zero
If you’ve never cleared your inbox down to zero emails, now’s the time to do it! Use the tools I’ve mentioned before like Unroll.me and Gmail filters to make it easier. And then clean out the clutter! With Gmail, you can just archive old messages and find them later so you don’t have to delete everything to clean out your inbox. But at least clean out your inbox! Trust me, if you haven’t done anything important with those emails in the last month or the last year, it’s time to get it out of your inbox.
You’ll feel a lot better when your email is finally manageable instead of feeling overwhelmed every time you check it.
Other Ways To Save Time on Email
Have your team members only email you about important problems and opportunities. Team members should never be emailing you about simple things that they could easily Google or figure out on their own. I once had a team member email me to ask the definition of a word he didn’t understand. It would have saved us both time if he had just Googled it. Train your team to treat your time and their time as precious, and to be proactive about solving problems. Otherwise, you’ll be the only person in your business solving problems, creating a decision-making bottleneck. That’s no way to run a business.
Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Instead, write down your work priorities for the day and do your most important tasks in the morning. Then check email later in the day or at night when it’s less likely people will respond to you immediately, allowing you to clear your inbox much faster.
Another awesome tip I learned from Tim Ferriss is to empower your employees to make customer service decisions below a certain cost threshold. For example, if a customer wants a refund or has a problem, your team should be able to handle it without asking you for permission as long as it doesn’t cost over a certain amount of money, maybe $50, $100 or $500 depending on the size and scale of your business. This saves you a lot of time having to confirm refunds on a small $22 order when you could be spending that time bringing in big new clients or relaxing on the beach. It will also provide your customers with better service because your team will be able to respond and help them faster without waiting for your decision.
Google Voice is an amazing tool that makes voicemail so much easier to manage, especially when you’re traveling. With Google Voice, you can listen to voicemail messages in any order instead of clicking through like a normal voicemail box which is a waste of time. It will also automatically transcribe voicemails to text so you can save a lot of time reading them. It can also send you an email notification of new voicemails and you can listen to them on your computer or any tablet as well as your phone. If you’re in another country with no cell service, Google Voice is invaluable!
Skype is mandatory. If you don’t have it, get it now. It’s free and you can communicate with people all over the world via Skype. When you’re traveling internationally, you can call back those people who left a voicemail in your Google Voice inbox too! The vast majority of my meetings and phone calls are now done through Skype and it allows me to work with an international group of people just about as easily as working with someone in my home town. The only thing you have to manage is time zone differences!
Outsourcing / Team Building
Guru.com is a my favorite site for finding contractors on a budget. You’ll have to go through a lot of applicants to find a good fit, but that’s the case any time you add a new member to your team. I love Guru because you can simply use Guru to find and recruit a team member and then communicate with them outside of the site. With many other similar sites, you are forced to communicate and pay only through that site which does not lend itself to building a sustainable, long-term business team because there’s a third-party in the way.
Elance.com is a good site to find contractors for small jobs, but you’re forced to communicate and pay through Elance, making it more work to manage and not my first choice.
vWorker.com is another site similar to Elance.
Craigslist (US and Philippines) is a good site to find contractors and new team members. The downside is all the spam that comes with posting on Craigslist.
1Password is a great password management tool that syncs across all computers and mobile devices. It will save you time trying to remember all your passwords.
Roboform Password management is another great tool for storing all your passwords automatically for you.
File Storing, Sharing and Backup
Dropbox is an awesome free service for storing files in a cloud server. It will sync across all devices and computers and makes it very easy to share files with friends and team members. You might want to pay to upgrade for more space if you need a lot of storage. You can also use it to back up important business files and documents.
Evernote is an amazing piece of free software that you can use on any computer, tablet or smartphone. You can use it for keeping track of notes, documents and all kinds of important business information. It syncs across all devices and is incredibly easy to use with some amazing advanced features that will save you a lot of time and money.
Document Scanning Apps
There are dozens of free and paid apps for any Android or iPhone that you can use to scan, store and send documents such as contracts. All you do is snap a picture of each page and the app will save it, turn it into a PDF and email it anywhere you want as well as store a copy on your phone just in case. Right now, I use GeniusScan for my iPhone (it’s free).
Voice Recording / Notes
I use voice recording frequently to capture ideas, thoughts, and information much faster than I could type or write it. It’s especially great when you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and want to record it fast.
Note To Self is a Droid app that allows you to make voice notes and text notes for yourself. Very handy!
QuickVoice is a free iPhone app that allows you to take voice notes.
If you’re on the computer, worldtimezone.com is a great fast, easy way to find out what time zones people are in and set appointments.
World Clock-Time Zones is a great iPhone app for this when you’re on the go
For Android users, just search in the app store for a World Clock or Time Zone Converter.
Auto Hotkey is totally free for PC. Instead of retyping large strings of text you frequently use for emails or other computer work, you can use a text automator to sore these words and then copy/paste them quickly and easily.
WordPress is the system I use to build my websites.
GoDaddy is what I use for buying domain names. I love their 24-hour customer service.
BlueHost is what I use for website hosting. I also love their 24-hour customer service.
Optimize Press is an amazing Theme for WordPress that allows you to create amazing Squeeze pages, sales pages, and membership sites very quickly and easily. There’s a little bit of a learning curve, but if you’re familiar with WordPress, you’ll find it pretty easy to create awesome marketing tools and marketing funnels for your business.
Chris Farrell Membership Site is the best community I’ve ever seen for asking questions and getting advice on how to build websites and grow an online business.
Creating Valuable Content For Customers
YouTube is awesome for uploading videos and embedding them on your website.
Vimeo is another good option for uploading and embedding videos on your site.
Easy Webinar Plugin is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a beautiful evergreen webinar to sell products or services or just to educate your audience. You can get a free trial which allows you to create one custom webinar with custom landing pages and the webinar will run every day if you want it to. It’s great for anyone who’s selling products online!
Camtasia for Mac or PC is an amazing piece of screen recording software and video editing software all in one. With it, you can create amazing sales videos, educational videos, and give easy, clear, fast instructions to your team members by recording videos of your computer screen while you work or teach.
Screenflow is another great screen recording software and is cheaper than Camtasia but only works for Macs right now.
TweetAdder is an awesome tool for automating a lot of Tweeting as well as getting a ton of new targeted Twitter followers.
HootSuite is a great tool for scheduling Tweets and managing multiple Twitter accounts at once.
Buffer is a great tool for auto-scheduling Tweets with 1-click. You’ll also find some great suggested Tweets that work nicely as well.
IFTTT (IF This Then That) is a great tool for automating social media posting and book marketing across various platforms. I highly recommend testing it out to see how it can help you save time on manually posting social media updates.
Here’s one of my favorite IFTTT “recipes”—it automatically sends every email I star * in Gmail to Evernote, thereby storing it. This helps clear my inbox
MTurk is an incredibly powerful service that can be used in some really creative ways. Basically, with MTurk you can hire thousands of people to do short tasks that may last a few seconds or minutes for pennies.
CallControl for Android. This app blocks all calls to your cell phone from callers that have been marked as spammers.
AirBNB App. Helps when traveling to find a place to stay quickly and easily if you’d prefer to stay in a home rather than a hotel.
Photoshop is an amazing tool for creating graphics quickly and easily for those of you who have any interest or skill at design. Even if you don’t, it’s a good skill to learn. If you never create a design in your life, at least knowing how to will give you a better eye for what good design looks like and how to hire the right designers.
Microsoft Excel is a great tool for organizing data or running any major calculations or analytics for your business. Learning how to use Excel was probably the most important thing I learned in business school other than accounting.
Dragon Naturally Speaking is a great tool for dictating. For slow typists, this one program could dramatically improve your typing speed and output.
FreeMind is a great free tool for mind mapping.
When you look at someone’s desktop, you can immediately tell whether or not they’re an organized person.
Here’s a good example of a horribly organized computer desktop:
Your desktop doesn’t have to be perfectly immaculate but it should be clearly and neatly organized and you should be able to easily and quickly find anything you need for your business or personal life as soon as you look at your desktop. Here are some tips for organizing it:
Create a folder for every major business project. If you have several projects such as managing a website or writing a book, create a folder for each of those projects. Then, every picture, file or document that’s a part of that project goes in the file, neatly organized.
Next, create a folder for every type of reoccurring file or document. For example, I have a file for publishing contracts. All the contracts go in that file to keep them organized. If I ever need to refer back to one, it takes 10 seconds to find it.
Next, delete any outdated or unnecessary files. If you have multiple versions of a book, for example, delete all the old, outdated versions to save space and keep things organized. This will also save you a lot of time instead of accidentally writing new information in an outdated file and then having to fix everything afterwards. Organization saves a lot of time if you do it right.
This is an excerpt from the bestselling book Systemize, Automate, Delegate which is now available on Amazon.com at http://bit.ly/17xNM4E
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.