by Anne Headen
As a busy Virtual Assistant, I need to be organised and keep on top of not only my own projects and to do list but also that of my clients. What projects they’re currently working on, what stage they’re at, what needs to be done today, who am I still waiting on for a reply and do I need to chase them. The list is endless and if I didn’t have an effective means of keeping tabs on everything, I’d soon lose track.
My 5 favourite tools to manage my business are as follows:
Asana is one of those tools in which I wonder how I ever managed without it. As a Virtual Assistant, I work with a number of clients who are all working on their own projects. I need to keep track of what I’m doing, what they’re doing and providing reminders so stuff gets done. I recently designed my new website and all the tasks were created in one project folder, so I could easily see what I’d done and what needed to be done next.
I use Asana to project manage and keep on top of all mine and my clients to dos and tasks. I have separate folders for each of my clients and log everything I’m working on, still require answers for, reminders of what needs to be done and when.
It’s really easy to figure out and get started. There is the facility to collaborate with colleagues and clients, assign tasks to individuals and receive notifications when people make important changes. Find the tasks and priorities for anyone on your team with one click. Tasks can also include sub-tasks, so you can map out the individual steps which require to get done.
Asana incorporates the facility to have conversations within a specific task – so it keeps the conversation flow all together under that task. No more emails going back and forth and the frustration of not been able to find the email which had the information you require.
I receive a daily email update of tasks for today and what’s coming up. I also forward emails to my Asana account and attach to a project.
It’s also free to use for up to 30 members; perfect for freelancers and small business owners.
I use HootSuite for all my social networking. It’s such a timesaver. I have multiple accounts in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also connect Google+, your WordPress blog, Foursquare, Myspace and Mixi. I also belong to various groups in both Facebook and LinkedIn, so have included streams for these also. As a Pro-user I’m not limited to how many streams I can add.
There is also a whole stream of apps including RSS feed of your favourite blogs, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Evernote, Flickr, Mailchimp, Slideshare, YouTube and so on.
The beauty of HootSuite is that I’m able to post across all my networks or pick and choose, depending on the message. I can also keep up to date with everything that’s happening with my Twitter followers, Facebook newsfeed and the various groups I’m involved in – all on one dashboard.
I’m also a fan of scheduling posts to go out, not everything, mind as I still believe you should interact and engage in real time. There are days, however, when I’m extremely busy and I’m in full flow of concentration; I don’t wish to break that by feeling under pressure to check my social networks and send out a tweet or Facebook update.
I’m quite a fan of tweeting other people’s blog posts or updates and through the RSS feed, I have added my favourite blogs – I can see their latest posts all in one stream. I click the headline which interests me and send out across my networks.
I’ve added my followers into lists and each list has its own stream in HootSuite.
I love it!
With Evernote, I can create notes, audio, save web clips, files and images and have them all available on every computer or device I use. I can also forward emails I receive to Evernote.
The web clipper is fabulous. To be able to click on the Evernote icon whenever I’m on a web page and save either the link, article or the full page is brilliant. I save to folders in my Evernote account and as a visual person, I am able to quickly see and find a website I saved earlier.
I used Evernote continuously when I was designing my website, if I saw a website I loved the colours of, the typography or a small design element – I saved all of them for inspiration.
I particularly like that if I find a great tutorial around the web, which I know I’ll need at some point in the future, I save it in Evernote and it’s all there waiting for me.
Research better: Collect information from anywhere into a single place. From text notes to web pages to files to snapshots, everything is always at your fingertips.
Plan your next trip: Keep all of your itineraries, confirmations, scanned travel documents, maps, and plans in Evernote, so you’ll have them when you need them.
I also love that I can sync Evernote on my laptop, iPad and iPhone.
There are so many wonderful features of Evernote, I know I’m not using it to its maximum potential.
One place for all your stuff, wherever you are
Dropbox is the home for all your videos, files, photos and documents. It’s also super easy to share your stuff with colleagues, family and friends or clients.
My clients use it to share documents and photos with me that I’ll need for their social media scheduling, updating their blog or documents we’re collaborating on.
As with Evernote it syncs with my iPhone and iPad.
I also particularly like to use it to store videos, which are generally big files and I don’t wish for them to take up space on my laptop. Everything is stored in the cloud too – if I wish to work in my local café, I upload the documents I want to work on, tootle off on my bike with my small netbook and they’re all waiting for me.
Not exactly a tool but I use Google in one way or another every day.
Who can go a day without searching for something in Google – I don’t seem to be able to!
I frequently use Google maps for directions, to check mileage or to find a car park or other venue I’m wishing to visit.
Google calendar, which is synced to my iPhone – I schedule everything, from my own appointments, meetings and things I need to do and remember, as well as those of my clients. If I need to remind a client to do a particular task, it’s scheduled in my calendar and I receive an email reminding me it’s due that day.
I also use Google calendar for all my blog content scheduling; not only to schedule time to write the post but also the day it will go live.
I have a personal Gmail email account for all my personal stuff.
I also use Google Analytics for tracking and measuring my website traffic.
All the above tools are huge time savers for me and help me keep on track of my own business but also that of my clients, which is crucial.
Do you have any favourite tools for your business?
You can find my post for the swap day on Anne’s blog: Add Testimonials to Your Online Marketing Efforts.
Tools Photo: Sanja Gjenero / stock.xchng