My top 5 automation tools to improve your productivity


I am always going on about how I love to help busy business owners implement processes and systems, so I thought it was about time that I told you all what my favourite automation and online tools are. These are all ones that I personally use as I think they are all fab.

All of these are free tools, although some have paid for versions which I have explained below.

Finances

I use Wave for my finances. Although I could probably still manage by invoicing via a good old-fashioned spreadsheet, it pays to set up systems early in your business that will help you later on. Benefits are as follows:

1. Client details are under lock and key behind a password protected gateway.

2. Download the Wave app and you can take photos of your receipts to upload straight to your profile.

3. Editable categories for all of your incomings and outgoings so you can label them in a way that suits your business.

4. Great prompt support function – they respond extremely quickly.

5. It’s free!

Social Media

Buffer

I use Buffer to schedule all of my social media posts (apart from Facebook – I haven’t looked into the detail but I believe the dreaded algorithm prefers it if you post in-house.) This means I can switch off when I am busy and not worry about posting, but I still pop on and interact when it suits me.

As long as you only have one social media account per network, it is free. If like me you schedule on behalf of other people or more than one account per network, you will have to pay. Packages start from around £8 a month. The support is absolutely excellent through Twitter and their blog posts and information are second-to-none.

Feedly

Feedly is a curation of all of the online blogs, news outlets and sources that use an RSS feed and you use it to find articles and information on topics of your choice. You follow sources that are of interest to you and when you log on, it shows you the latest articles that you scan through to find ones of relevance.

The functionality is excellent. The articles and blogs add up really quickly, sometimes I have in excess of 500 ‘new’ articles (ones I haven’t read) but the Feedly interface makes it extremely easy to scan through or to search by keyword on what you are after.

I use it to source relevant content for clients’ social media and to keep on top of tech and small business trends. You can easily use the free version of Feedly however I paid to upgrade as I wanted to set up alerts for certain keywords.

The advice and support are really good and the tutorials on how to use it (both the free and upgraded version) are super. I paid around £35 for the year and to date I think the value has been good.

Pocket

Do you ever see an article, tweet or link to something that you would really like to read but at that moment don’t have the time? Pocket is your answer! It is an app and chrome extension where you can save links that you want to return to. When you have the time you can pop into your Pocket and use the link to read the article.

It’s a really basic app which serves a simple purpose. Once you have read the link and you don’t want to keep it you can just get rid of it. Or if you want to reference it later, you can keep it. It’s free as well, bonus.

Email

I honestly think that there is no comparable alternative to email than using Gmail. I have GSuite as I have connected my domain name to personalise it for my business (sarah@keyboardsmash.net) but the amount that you can personalise Gmail to make IT work for you, rather that YOU working for IT is staggering.

The rules, labels and filter functions are completely intuitive and are easy to follow and create. There are tons of YouTube videos on how to implement them but if you prefer a bit of hand-held support, let me know and I can run through the options with you.

There are so many more – want to log time spent on specific tasks and projects? Use Toggl. Want to create flyers, logos, social banners – use Canva.

What is your favourite tool? What could you not live without in your business? Would love to hear about it, drop me an email and let me know!

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Email: sarah@keyboardsmash.net

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