Some of the Tools and Tricks I've used to Better Manage My Time
I've been extremely busy over the last few months as we look to launch OnTrac, and I've had to be extremely efficient with my time to get done all the things I've needed to do from a business perspective while balancing my obligations on a personal level. Out of complete necessity, I've had to identify and implement some "time hacks" to make it all possible. Here are some of most valuable tools and tricks that I've used over the last few months to really gain additional hours in a day to make my time as efficient as possible. We've incorporated a lot of these into one of our "Time Management" SMARTracs in OnTrac.
Asana - For those that aren't familiar, Asana is a project management tool. There are others like Trello and Monday. After trying a couple out on free trials, I decided to use Asana. I used to use an app on my Android called Any.do to manage my to do list. I got frustrated because it felt a little disorganized. A lot of times, I wanted to brainstorm tasks without scheduling them and I wanted to group them by projects that I was working on. That was what I liked about Asana. I can create specific projects and brainstorm all the tasks that go with that project without assigning or scheduling them. After I got my virtual assistant (below), I was able to assign specific tasks to her, place notes, links, and documents in the task.
Virtual Assistant - One of my passive income projects is an e-commerce shop that I started a couple of years ago. It has grown exponentially this year, and I simply could not handle it on my own and still fulfill my other obligations. I decided to bring on an off-shore virtual assistant. I did research and tried several of the companies. I tried a couple with assistants based in the Philippines, one with an assistant based in the UK, but I ended up going with a company that had assistants based in Latin America. They were referred to me from one of my LinkedIn contacts. Her English is pretty good,and she works very hard. Because of living cost differences, it was much more affordable to hire her vs. hiring a US based virtual assistant. Feel free to reach out to me if you're interested in being connected to the company that I'm using at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is handle all the order handling, customer service requests, posting on social media, and whatever else I ask her to do. That frees me up to do some of the more advanced that only I can do. This was a game changer for me, and really has freed me up to accomplish a lot more than I would have otherwise.
LastPass - One of the issues that I was concerned about was sharing my passwords with my virtual assistant. I learned about LastPass from a YouTube video on the topic. It's solved so many issues related to my passwords. I can create more secure randomly-generated passwords (instead of the same one over and over). It also makes it easier to complete users names and passwords. I can securely share my password with my virtual assistant without actually sharing my password. She would just have to create a LastPass account and download the LastPass Chrome extension.
RescueTime - At OnTrac, we are big believers in famous management guru Peter Drucker's quote, "What gets measured, gets managed." In other words, you need to know where you are currently before you can decide where to go. We think this is particularly important when it comes to time management. I suspect that most people have no clue how much time the spend throughout the day on different tasks, projects, etc. To address this in my own life, one of the tools that implemented was RescueTime. This gets installed on my desktop, laptop, and mobile devices, and it keeps track of how much time I spend on different programs and apps. It then classifies those uses into different categories and provides really nice reports.
Deleting games and social media apps off of my phone - This isn't exactly a tool, but it's something I did that made a huge difference. The biggest time sucks on my phone were the Facebook app and Candy Crush. I would instinctively open these apps if I had nothing to do, and then whoosh, 20-30 minutes had disappeared. Once I deleted the apps, the most important thing that happened was I no longer received push notifications from them. That was the trigger that made me want to open up the app. Because I no longer had those notifications, I didn't use the apps nearly as much. I still log into Facebook, but now I have to manually have to go into my browser and log in. I'm lazy. That's too much work. I'll login once or twice a day versus the 50 times a day I was doing through the mobile app. Facebook keeps trying to get me to download the mobile app, but I have no interest.
Zapier - This is probably one of the most valuable tools that I use. It has saved me countless hours if not days of my time by automating routine task. I can connect many of the common apps that I use together. For example, some of the ways that I've used Zapier is I've connected all my calendars into one central calendar such that any appointment on one of my calendars gets automatically added to a central calendar, I've used it to automatically save a photo from a Shopify order into a Google Drive folder created with the customers name, and I've triggered automatically posted new products onto all of my Shopify store's social media accounts every time my virtual assistant adds a new product (which she does once a week). My Pinterest account alone gets almost 100,000 impressions a month as a result.
Audible - I'm someone that is constantly trying to learn and improve myself. Sometimes, reading can take a lot of time. One tools that has helped me bridge this gap in a time efficient way is audible. In the past, I had a 45 minute commute to my office each way, and I used Audible to make that daily hour and half commute much more efficient. During the quarantine, I've made my morning routine consisting of working out either on the treadmill or with weights while listening to an Audible book. I've finished about 2 or 3 books that I've been wanting to read that way. It also makes the dreaded time on the treadmill go that much faster.
These are just a few tools and tricks that I use to make myself more efficient and productive. However, there are many more. Hopefully, you found this list helpful and interesting. If there are others that you use, feel free to reach out to me.