Here is a list of my favorite business tools that I use and I couldn’t do business without. I wanted to share them with you because I love them and they may be beneficial for you in your business, as well! If you have any favorite business tools that you love that I didn’t mention, be sure to leave me a comment and tell me about it!
My Favorite Business Tools
Planoly– I absolutely LOVE using Planoly for Instagram! I batch my graphics every week, then upload them all to Planoly to schedule throughout the week. You can set it up to post automatically for you or you can go in and do it yourself. One of the things I love most about Planoly is the ability to rearrange my scheduled posts on my feed and make it look “pretty” before actually posting. This is a great way to do it if you have a grid and want to keep it looking a certain way! Try it and let me know what you think!
Tailwind– Tailwind is a site/app that I use for Pinterest. I know that I am not using it to it’s full potential, as I am still getting it all figured out, but I love the ability to schedule posts on Pinterest! I don’t always remember to get on and pin consistently, so Tailwind helps do that for me, once I load up the queue. You can also join Tailwind tribes in your niche and share your content there to be shared by others! It is definitely worth the investment!
Gsuite – Gsuite is great for email, docs, google drive, calendar, and more. I even have my gmail set up with my domain, so my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And I love Google drive for creating, storing, and sharing documents. It’s a great way to save things that I want to be able to access from any computer or device. It’s also great for being able to share things between my clients/team members and myself when I am working with them on a project.
Acuity Scheduling – This is an awesome tool for allowing clients and team members to schedule appointments with me. I can create my calendar based on my daily life schedule and they can choose a time that works for them. I can also ask them to answer some questions when they book to help me know what they are wanting out of the call, and they pay right when they schedule the appointment, if applicable. And I love that it emails both them and me a reminder the day before!
Zoom – Zoom is a fantastic tool for video conferencing. I often use it when I want to “meet” with a someone online and want to be able to see each other and record the video content. You can use it with groups of people as well, and can see each person who is part of the meeting. Being on video is not a requirement, though, for someone who would rather not. You can also mute people other than the speaker so you cut down on background noise and other distractions. It is also free for up to 40 minutes of screen time.
Canva – This is a website that I use pretty much every day! I most definitely could not do business without it, because it is how I create all of my graphics! A lot of people use PicMonkey as well, but I prefer Canva for most things. And I love paying for Canva for Business so that I can save my brand colors and fonts. It makes it super easy and quick to create branded graphics for my business!
Trello – Trello is an awesome tool for all kinds of things, to do lists, content management, project management, and more! I use it for all of the above. You can create boards privately and use them yourself, or you can add others and have team boards. In each board you can add lists and cards and move the cards around. In the cards you can add comments, checklists, upload files, colored labels, due dates, etc. It’s pretty fantastic!
Stock Photos – There are several free stock photo sites I like to use, such as Pixabay and Unsplash and even Canva, but one of my favorites is my stock photo membership from Ivory Mix. There are tons of high quality gorgeous photos that I love to use for creating graphics and website images. You can browse the different collections she has and purchase them individually, but I highly recommend doing the membership option because it is definitely worth having access to all of the photos! She also has a lot of affordable courses that you can take as well. I’ve bought a couple of them so far and plan to go through more of them as I have time.
Siteground Hosting and the Divi Theme– As I have created several website for myself and others, I have found that these are two of my favorites! Siteground is my favorite site for hosting your website and Divi is my all-time favorite theme! I love how customizable Divi is. I can create all kinds of very different websites!
What are your favorite business tools to use? Leave a comment and let me know!
Ok, to be honest with y’all, I am not the best and keeping a clutter-free home. But lately I have been thinking about ways to keep my home less cluttered and more tidy on a daily basis. You know those homes that seem like they always look company-ready at any given time? Yeah, mine’s not one of them.
Sure, I do a pretty good job of picking up and hiding stuff putting stuff away right before I know people are coming over. But the rest of the time I am driving my husband crazy with my mess (he’s way more tidy than me). So, I’ve decided that I am going to do a better job of keeping my home clutter-free.
My goal is to have a plan for keeping things tidy and clutter-free that won’t take up much extra time. These are not huge, life-altering tips, or really anything you haven’t heard before. Anything I come up with needs to be easily implemented into my daily routines. So here are the five main things that I think are do-able on a daily basis.
5 Tips To More Easily Keeping a Clutter-Free Home
1. 10 minute pick-up at the end of every day. I am going to make it a habit to go around the house and quickly pick things up and put things away at the end of every day. You know, the blanket still lying on the couch, my shoes under the coffee table in the living room, the bra lying on the floor because I couldn’t stand wearing it any longer, the wine glass on the end table. And that’s just the living room! I didn’t mention the close lying on the bed/floor in the bedroom, the Color Street nail strips lying around my office that I didn’t get put away, etc.
I don’t have kids yet – one on the way! – so it’s just my crap stuff lying around. It should just take 10 minutes, top! This should help me stay on top of keeping the house picked up. And if I can make it a routine now, I am more likely to be able to keep it up after baby girl gets here in a few months.
2. Do the dishes after every meal. Am I the only one who sucks at this? By the time I have cooked and eaten dinner, I am tired and don’t want to do any more work! But by letting the dishes pile up, it ends up being more work later on. SoI am going to try *really hard* to make it a habit to go ahead and get the dishes done after every meal, cleaning them as I go if I am the one cooking. My husband does a really good job of this, so there’s no reason that I can’t do it too.
No more leaving the dishes out overnight (or for days!) Getting them done right away will help keep my kitchen looking nice!
3. Make sure everything has a place. I think I do ok with this one (I mean everyone is allowed to have a junk drawer, right?!), but I want to get better at it. Everything needs to have a place. If something doesn’t have a place and it needs to, then I will find a place for it so I know where to put it next time. Otherwise, I may need to get rid of it. No more clutter of things I don’t know what to do with! And I need to make sure I put things away right away, instead of letting things stay cluttered until later.
This includes the bills and paper clutter. I am going to go through the mail every day and immediately throw away anything that’s junk. Bills will go in this desktop organizer from Target. Anything that needs to be filed will go in the filing cabinet. No more piles and piles of paper and mail, just because I am too lazy to do something with it right away.
4. Make the bed everyday. This one is going to be hard. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me, but it’s never been a habit I have gotten into. Making the bed is something I just don’t do! I know that I am way more likely to keep the rest of the bedroom picked up and clean if the bed is made, but for some reason I never do it. So from now on I plan on making it every day! (Someone want to check up with me and hold me to it???)
5. If something is not being used/loved/have a purpose, get rid of it! This one kind of goes along with number three. I am done keeping things around that I really don’t need to keep. I have a couple of tubs in my storage room that are designated “garage sale tubs,” so anything that I need to get rid of that I think I can sell, I will put in there. Otherwise I will throw it away/give it away/donate it, whatever needs to be done.
I plan on taking some time in the next few weeks to go through every room and every closet and pull out things that we don’t need to keep. Once I do this I can finally start working on the baby’s nursery! It has become a catch-all room, so this is my motivation for getting this done!
Many people make resolutions to get and stay organized at the start of the year. (Anyone raising their hand?) Almost as many find that they start strong, then burn out after a week or two. (How many hands are still up?!) That may be because they haven’t found a good system that is compatible with their habits and life/work style.
I have never really been the most organized, productive, or clutter-free person. There’s a reason my “word” for this year is discipline. I need more of it in ALL areas of my life! #reallife So I am right there with y’all, raising my own hand. I am working hard this year on getting systems put in place in my business and life so that I can get and stay organized in my business.
Like business and time management, organization is a very personal thing. There are a million strategies out there, but they don’t always work for everyone. So, it’s important to understand how you can approach organization and what you can do that will help you achieve your goals, instead of sticking to a system that others tell you to use, even if it doesn’t work for you.
Here are six tips that can help you get and stay organized, hopefully in a way that works for you and helps you achieve all of your goals. If you have other tips and tricks for staying organized, make sure to leave a comment on this post!
Six steps to getting and staying organized in your business
Create a filing system that works for you. Organization is a highly personal thing for each individual. What works for one person may not work for another and that includes filing systems. Some people do okay with piles – they know what’s in each pile and where specific pieces of paper are that they need. (Yep, I’m a recovering piler, in transition to using a filing cabinet!) Others need a more robust system, because they don’t like piles at all.
There are many furniture items and tools out there that you can use, like filing cabinets, desktop files, etc. There are also electronic systems. I recently heard about Neat, which allows you to scan your invoices and receipts, to organize the data and can even automate data entry into other business software systems. If baskets work for you, then use baskets. It’s all about finding a filing system that works for you, that you’ll keep using.
Create a system for communicating with clients/customers/team members. Business communication can be all over the place. (Yep, raising my hand here, too!) Some people prefer phone calls, while others use video chat software, Facebook messages, or email for minor conversations and updates. The actual communication isn’t what needs organized, most of the time. But getting those appointments into a calendar is an opportunity to create a new system.
There are a variety of scheduling platforms you can try, like Acuity, Calendly, or others. (I personally use Acuity to do coaching calls with team members.) Those platforms can input the appointment in your own calendar and in the other person’s calendar as well, and can send reminders.
Pick two or three items from your workspace to get rid of each week. Clutter can be a big reason for disorganization, stress, and a hindrance to productivity. Getting rid of a few things on a regular basis can help you to feel less stressed by the stuff. Eliminating the excess stuff means you have less to move around and less to gather dust. It can even help you to get more done, because it’s easier to find what you need – whether those items are paper-based, or tools and equipment.
Even if you’re not getting rid of things completely, make sure to take time each day to put things away where they belong. Leaving things out to put away another day ends up creating clutter and an unorganized office. This is one of my biggest issues that I am working on!
Save email and social media for dedicated times. Make sure clients and/or team members know that you’ll respond during those specific times. Organization is about more than just physical items and calendars full of appointments. It’s also about managing your distractions. It may be tempting to respond to email and peruse social media during your work time, but that can create issues of disorganization, in addition to productivity problems.
Use checklists for rush projects. If you take on rush projects with tight deadlines, it can be easy to get a little stressed, and sometimes disorganized. It’s easy to miss a step and screw up when the pressure of a deadline is on. Checklists can help you to ensure that you complete each step of the project so that you deliver everything that is necessary to have a complete project.
How To Stay Motivated and Focused When Working From Home
People have this romantic view of working from home: working from wherever is comfortable, in fuzzy pajamas and slippers, with the freedom to do whatever you want. The reality is – it’s rarely that easy. Sure, there’s comfort, but there are tons of distractions too – distractions that usually don’t exist if you work outside your home.
The distractions just might be endless: TV, social media, a pet. Even the dishes or the laundry make good distractions if you’re not totally energized (procrastination, anyone?). The worst distraction though, is probably the complete loss of motivation and concentration.
Fear not. There are ways to avoid the distractions and loss of motivation that can be troublesome when working from home.
Make some effort in starting your day. Start your day not with a bowl of cereal in front of your computer with the first cup of coffee, but by getting dressed, as if you are going to work. It is harder to be focused and motivated when you are still in your pajamas. Make yourself breakfast and sit down to eat it before you move on to work. Then, move into your work space for the day and get started.
Set up a specific place to work and set up your computer for fewer motivation-killing distractions. Curling up on the couch (or in bed!) with your computer and phone may be comfy, but chances are, that’s also setting yourself up for distractions. I tend to scroll Facebook more when I am working somewhere other than at my desk.Put your computer in a spot where you’ll be comfortable, but able to focus and work. For me, it’s at my desk. Add things to your work space that will help you concentrate – like headphones, if needed, and a white board. Make sure you have the right tools for the job too, whether that’s your computer and planner, or tools you need to create physical items.
Track how you spend your time. There are a variety of task tracking tools meant to help you manage your time. RescueTime is one you can look into. Let it run in the background of your computer and then analyze where it says you’re spending your time. What comes out of that analysis can help you to arrange your tasks so you get more done when your energy is high and you’re motivated. It can also show you where your distractions are causing issues that lead to frustration.Don’t let yourself just scroll Facebook during your work time. It’s not actually work. Really. If you use Google Chrome for your browser, you can download an extension called Kill News Feed that will literally kill your Facebook newsfeed so you can’t scroll when it is turned on. You can still access your page, groups, etc, but you won’t be able to waste time scrolling your newsfeed until you turn it back on. Pretty handy, huh!
Structure your task list to work with your energy. This is a big one. The transition from office work with other people and outside motivation to working from home can be a strange one. For some, it’s harder to focus and there are massive energy spikes and lulls. That’s why it’s very important to work as your concentration allows it. Don’t force it, because that will kill your motivation and your work won’t be fun or enjoyable. Forcing yourself to work only leads to frustration and more trouble concentrating. It’s an annoying loop that’s tough to get out of sometimes.
Be flexible with that task list. If you find that a task is taking longer than it should, or you’re finishing projects more quickly than expected, it’s important to acknowledge that and be okay with changing up your project list. It is great when you can clear it more quickly than expected, and it’s a drag when you realize you can’t get everything done that you want to, but don’t put more pressure on yourself when things are difficult. Accept it and just keep moving.
Schedule breaks and take them. Plan something fun and energizing for a specific break time. Schedule it, and guard that scheduled time. When you know that you have a break coming up, it’s often easier to concentrate and get more done. Anticipation is a fabulous motivator. You might be shocked to find out just how much you can achieve when you know you have fun time coming up.
Also, it’s easy to forget to eat when you’re working from home, so make sure that you occasionally take a break to eat and get something to drink so you stay hydrated.
Every year I choose a word of the year. It is a word that I want to focus on for the upcoming year. I do this instead of making new year’s resolutions. For 2017 my word was Growth and for 2018 my word was Freedom. These words ended up fitting their respective years perfectly.
A look at the past
2017 was a year of growth for me, especially business wise. In 2017, I finished out my first year of teaching special ed instead of pre-k; I started a new web design business and learned a lot from it; I started a new direct sales business which took off and grew like crazy; and overall had a year of change and growth.
Freedom was a perfect fit for 2018. My new direct sales business gave me the freedom to be able to quit my teaching job and work from home. And what a blessing that has been! I am not sure how I would have managed to get through my first trimester with pretty bad morning sickness while teaching full time. It was definitely the freedom I needed.
I also was able to take my husband on a really nice vacation to Jamaica using money I made from my business. It was amazing to be able to have the freedom to go on that vacation without worrying about the cost!
My 2019 Word of the Year and why I chose it
And this year. My 2019 word of the year. This year my word is Discipline.
This year I am choosing the word discipline because it’s something I desperately need more of in all areas of my life. I am often not a very disciplined person, maybe even more so now that I am working from home and at home all day with the freedom to do what I want.
My home life needs more discipline: taking care of the laundry regularly instead of waiting for it to pile up and we’re running out of underwear (someone tell me I’m not the only one who does this); doing the dishes every day instead of letting them sit in the sink for days; cleaning the bathrooms before the get disgusting; and generally keeping up with housework and doing what I know needs to be done around the house, even though I don’t always want to do it. It takes discipline.
My business life also needs more discipline: sending hostess packets to my hosts each month and keeping up with mailings in a timely manner; hostess coaching and partnering with my hosts; chatting with those interested about the business opportunity instead of making excuses; writing the blog posts that I say I’m going to write; keeping up with my social media posts since I am running an online business; cleaning my office and keeping it organized instead of letting it get messier and messier; and actually doing the work that I know I need to do to run my business instead of wasting so much time scrolling Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest. It takes discipline.
In just a few months (June) I am due with my first baby. I don’t want him/her (we should find out soon!) to grow up and learn to be lazy and undisciplined like me. It is important to me that I set a good example for my child. I want to be able to create routines and have the schedule that my baby needs. It will take discipline. I know that I need to work on this NOW and not wait another moment.
I’m Melissa Mackey, a leader with Color Street and a new lifestyle/mom blogger. A former special ed teacher turned work from home mama who loves coffee, wine, Mexican food, donuts, horses, and Jesus. Passionate about helping women like you feel just a bit more put together without taking much time out of your day – dry nail polish for the win! Sharing my about my pregnancy and journey to becoming a new mom while working my business. Come alongside me in my journey through womanhood and life. Even though it’s messy at times. Let’s be our beautiful selves together.