My #1 Productivity Tool

Throw a rock in any bookstore or library and you’ll probably hit a book about productivity. Google “productivity” or “time management” and you’ll get further into a rabbit hole than Alice. I LOVE this stuff so I’ve read dozens of books and subscribe to blogs and newsletters on this topic and the opinions and tools are as diverse as the authors.

I’ve tried a lot of the software, tools, and systems and while I use several, there’s one that has completely upped my productivity game: Time Blocking. This is where you block off sections of your calendar to work on various aspects of your business. For example, you add an event to your calendar from 9-10 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for “LinkedIn”. During this time, you ONLY work on the LinkedIn tasks you’ve prioritized such as posting articles on your profile or groups, making new connections, writing recommendations, etc.

I have time blocked off for client work, my Facebook Group, contributing to other Facebook groups, coaching calls, networking events, team meetings, LinkedIn, personal tasks, general work tasks, etc. There’s time built in for breaks and lunch and the daily crossword but each day is pretty well scheduled. That may sound constricting but it’s the opposite – it’s freeing because you don’t have to think about the task until you get to that section.

Try setting it up for a week and absolutely sticking to the schedule. Don’t cheat. Set calendar reminders for 10 minutes before the next block and when the calendar gets there, stop whatever you’re doing and move to the next block. If you’ve left something unfinished, it will be a good lesson in time management and if necessary you can pick it up in the “Flex Time” block that you’ve wisely setup near the end of the day.

Productivity awaits!

300

p.s. Don’t throw rocks indoors.

The Day I Pulled Apart My Business Planner

Being an entrepreneur is challenging. You have to learn marketing, finance, graphic design, website design and how to manage people. You have to be a great networker, delegate, have focus, vision, lots of determination and lots and lots of coffee. If you’ want to succeed, there’s a lot to learn and an overwhelming number of resources from which to do it.

As a natural student, that’s what I did. I checked out all the books, read blogs and websites, attended trainings and webinars, and immersed myself in learning how to be the best entrepreneur I could be. My extensive notes included inspirational quotes from successful people, lists of “What Successful People Do”, and pages and pages of items designed to make me retire to a luxury island at an early age.

Honestly, it was a little overwhelming. How could I possibly absorb all that information while still raising children, seeing friends, and working on the business? I was frustrated and nearly paralyzed from the pressure of having to know it all.

Do More. Be Better. No Excuses.

Those three words changed my life.

I was browsing a magazine rack and the cover with those words jumped out at me. I stopped, struck by the power of those simple phrases. I went home and immediately tore apart my business planning book. I took out every single page with inspirational quotes and lists. Gone were the pages and pages of completely valid business wisdom and everything that remained were the actual tasks to move the business forward.

Do More. Be Better. No Excuses.

I’ve since learned the quote is from Tilman Fertitto and I’m grateful to him. Using that phrase allows me to focus on just doing the tasks that move the business forward and to do everything I can for my clients. I am passionate about helping my clients succeed and I want them to Do More and Be Better.

For me personally, I don’t have to worry about being successful I just have to Do More. Be Better. No Excuses.

Until next time…

What’s the Best FORMula?

Organizations have to collect a lot of information: volunteer signups, feedback surveys, registrations, general information, applications, and the list goes on and on. I am often asked for the best online form and the answer always depends what the intended purpose is. Here’s a few I like and how I used them.

Google Forms

Free with a Gmail subscription, Google Forms is easy to setup, can be visually customized to some extent, and dumps the info into a Google Drive spreadsheet which updates with the addition of each response. The downsides are that you can’t collect money and it doesn’t have the most professional appearance. I use it for short, informational submissions like ticket refund requests, free classified ad submission, general volunteer interest, and the like.

Cognito Forms

My new favorite, Cognito Forms allows you to make professional looking forms with a wide variety of features including payment collection via Stripe. The paid version includes additional options including Signature as well as additional payment processors. The contact email receives a notification whenever a form is completed and the information can be downloaded to a spreadsheet or PDF. All entries stay with the form so they can be reviewed later if necessary.

I use this software for applications, evaluation forms, work documentations, Board Member nominations, Volunteer Spotlights, Event Sponsorships, etc. whenever I want the form to look good and it will be an ongoing submission.

Here’s a Volunteer Spotlight form created in the basic version and the list of fields you can use to create forms:

Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey is a well known software which is designed for, well, surveys. It is not free but does have a ton of functionality and data outputs. Can you get feedback using other tools? Sure, but if your organization needs solid data from your respondents and your staff lacks the time to compile all the information then this is the software to use.

Signup Genius

If your organization has events for which you need signups, whether its a potluck or volunteer shifts, Signup Genius is a great tool for organizing all that chaos. Set days and times, describe volunteer work or donations needed, and the software will automatically send reminders based on the criteria you set. Signups can be copied from event to event so you just have to update the information and not have to recreate the entire signup. The free version has all functionality but you can upgrade to remove ads or use the software as a basic volunteer database.

Until next time…