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Recently, my love brought it to my attention that people think that I never sleep, with as much shit as I get done.
I am such a high achiever that I never realized just how much I do get done. I spend a lot of time beating myself up when my to-dos don’t get done on the day I want them accomplished.
The secret of my productivity success is automation and streamlining processes. Basically, working smarter, not harder is my motto in life. It is how I approach every situation, project and task. I ask myself, “How can I do this quicker/faster/easier?” And then I set off to figure that out and do more, faster.
I’m going to share 7 apps that I use to be more productive in my life and my biz. Because we could all use a few extra minutes to spend on self-care or having more fun in this life experience.
This is an app that has music and white noise to help you meditate, sleep or focus. This was a recent find for me, and I absolutely love the pouring rain sound to focus on while I meditate each and every morning. There are paid plans, but I haven’t bought into those. The free stuff is pretty good.
I use the Focus music to write all my content. It’s amazing how well I can focus while that music is playing. I get my writing done so much faster than I did when I first started my blog. Try it when you are feeling unfocused or foggy while trying to write.
Download it here.
I am strictly an Apple tech user. I own an iPhone, an iPad and a Mac. Because my background is in graphic design and I have trained to use the Mac exclusively, I just decided to make my life easier and make all my devices work together. Which is where Numbers comes in. (Actually iCloud, but that is more of a service than an app.)
I use numbers on a daily basis to keep my content scheduled and manage my money. It is the Apple version of excel—all spreadsheets. What I love about it is the more graphic representation of all the data and the ability to make multiple charts on one sheet. It is just cleaner and nicer to use, unlike excel where you have an infinite number of columns and rows. That is just overwhelming to me. The less I have to look at, the more I can focus on the information presented.
In my income calculator, I have made formulas that automatically populate to determine how much money gets deposited and transferred for which purpose.
You can download the calculator for free here. There is an excel and numbers doc as well as an instructions sheet for how to use it!
I used to save all of my receipts and go through them all at the end of the year for my tax deductions. I had looked into those scanners and thought that was too much money and storage space on my hard drive to justify the expense.
Then I found out about the Quickbooks self-employed app (affiliate link).
It. Changed. My. Life.
Now I go through my receipts at the end of every month, take pics and upload them to the app and I can categorize the expenses with just a swipe.
I can instantly see how much I made in my business and how much I spent and on what.
I can also track mileage, which is important as a contractor. I used to use pen and paper!! This is much easier, efficient and accurate. Quickbooks automatically calculates the possible deduction and shows you on your home screen. So if you aren’t tracking your trips to rehearsal, gigs, shows, trips to the store for supplies, etc., you are losing money from your refund!
Get quickbooks self-employed (affiliate link) to help you manage your expenses and track your mileage. The $10 it costs me a month is worth it to me to save me hours of receipt organizing. (This year, I spent about 14 hours going through it all because I failed to do it regularly last year.)
Use this link (affiliate link) to sign up to receive 50% off for the first 12 months.
This is my go-to app for taking payments for merch and invoicing clients.
It is easier to use and to setup than Paypal, and it syncs with my website to sell all of my offerings on my iPad, online and on my phone.
My favorite part is the daily transfers. The most annoying thing to me about Paypal is that I have to go log-in and tell it to transfer my funds to my bank. With Square, I don’t have to do that. I love waking up to the email that tells me that it is transferring the money to my bank. (Can you tell I love things that automate my life?)
You can sign up for Square here (affiliate link), and I believe that the card reader is still free.
Pic Tap Go
This is hands down the best photo editing app on the market. I have been using their photoshop actions for years and was eager to buy it when they released this amazing app.
It costs $1.99 and makes the photo editing process so much easier for me.
I take photos with my phone, airdrop them to my computer, make selections and then airdrop them to my iPad. From there, I edit. It sounds like a lot, but it is now a streamlined process so that I save time and energy when getting my instagram photos and blog content ready for you!
My favorite part of this app is the recipe function. You can save recipes in any combination of filters that you came up with. (Important for creating a consistent look and feel in your brand.) I have a few recipes that took a little finessing, but are now just 1-click to an edited photo. When you have over 50 photos to edit for a month of posts, saving time with the recipes is a no-brainer.
Download Pic•Tap•Go here.
I use Later to schedule my Instagram posts. Again, automation is one of the keys to my insane productivity rate. I love how easy it is to use, and that they are now allowed to auto-post for you.
You get 30 free scheduled posts a month, and there are paid plans for those that want to post more than once per day. It takes just minutes to setup instead of the 20-30 minutes I used to spend on each post. To me, that is worth it! And it’s free! Sign up here (affiliate link)!
Trello(affiliate link) has absolutely changed my life. Since I started using it to organize all the crazy in my life, I have accomplished more and experience more clarity in my day to day.
The lists are long, but by setting realistic expectations for myself each day, I am able to navigate being a single mother that is self employed and building an amazing business that helps empower others without wanting to tear my hair out or go through a mental breakdown every evening. (Yes, that was my old life, lol)
I have boards for things like home life, show production, editorial creation, clients, products and a really cool one called my Business Blueprint. It has all the information and links that I use all the time in one tidy little place. If I get a testimonial from a client, it goes there and I can go grab it when I need it.
My favorite board is My Week. It has lists for each day of the week and I can populate it with tasks that are copied from the other boards so that I have a more streamlined view (and don’t overwhelm myself,) of my tasks for the week. Butler copies the cards because I tell it to, which is a cool automation feature.
By adding Butler for Trello as a power up on each board, I am able to automate some of the things that happen when I use Trello in my daily workflow. Like archiving (which is like checking something off on a list,) can be automated when I complete a checklist on a card. It can also copy cards and move them to other boards (like My Week) when it is time to work on them.
You can sign up for Trello here. (affiliate link)
Once you get the hang of what boards, cards and list are, you can start to build a system that works for you and turns you into a super-productive badass like me!
If you have any other tips or comments, please share below!
Athena, aka Gazella