My Top 5 Tools For Staying Organised
Trying to grow a side business, plan and share my work regularly whilst working a full-time job is really not easy. Over time I’ve found that having a solid set of tools in place is crucial for staying organised, as it’s so easy to get lost otherwise. Here is a list of my top 5 tools that currently help me keep my shit together!
When I first started sharing my work on Instagram I would post at random times, not really care too much about how they were performing, and not really care about having a ‘visual style’. However as I started to take things more seriously with my lettering, I’d be kicking myself that I didn’t have a better plan in place from the start. Then in came Later.
Later is a social media scheduling app, and using this has meant that I can create a batch of lettering pieces (when time and my brain allows for it), plan my feed visually with captions ready to go, then schedule them to post at consistent times. Super helpful when I can’t spend every working minute or day on my content!
It’s also useful to see a more in-depth analysis of how my posts are performing, as Instagram’s built-in analytics are quite limited. You get to see your profile growth, audience stats, post and story performance, plus analytics for your hashtags to see which ones are working well and which ones not so well so you can continuously improve your Insta game. Scheduling my content using Later has been a game-changer and I would highly recommend it if you have loads of content to share, but struggle to actually post it regularly.
To gain any sort of traction with your Pinterest profile (if that’s important to your small business growth), most of the advice I've seen online is to pin lots of content relevant to your niche then play the long game… and they're not wrong!
Patience is a Pinterest virtue as pins get a lot of their initial engagement and exposure a little while after you’ve published them (a bit like not seeing SEO results on Google for a few months after you’ve updated your content). Setting up a queue of pins without having to spend countless hours manually posting them is a godsend, and this is where Tailwind shines. I spend about an hour every week batch scheduling pins, and doing that means I can browse Pinterest casually otherwise without having to worry about pinning manually 24/7.
Since signing up for a free trial to Tailwind in January this year, my reach grew massively from 1,681 viewers and 35 engaged people to 43,112 viewers and 742 engaged people in Mid-April… investing time in Tailwind has proved to be a no-brainer, obviously!
There’s a lot of other things to figure out in order for your Pinterest profile and subsequent website/blog traffic to grow (which I won’t go into as it’s A LOT), and although Tailwind is just one of the many cogs in that big machine, it’s a worthwhile cog indeed. If you’re a Pinterest pinning fanatic and fancy giving Tailwind a try, you can use my referral code to get a free month (whoop whoop!) You can also find out more about how to use Tailwind directly on their blog.
And.Co is a platform I use for whenever I have a client project on the go (I know quite a few freelancers that swear by it too). I use it to create project proposals (so clients know what to expect from the get-go), contracts and invoices all in one place without having to use a bunch of different tools. It’s got some really nice templates to start you off which are really user-friendly and easy to edit, and there’s also a task management system and time tracking built in, so staying on top of deadlines is a doddle. You can also view reports for any incoming/outgoing payments and expenses without much hassle, which as someone that dislikes dealing with finances manually, is definitely a bonus.
I started using Google Sheets as a means of streamlining my blog content creation, as previously it was a liiiitle bit all over the place. I stumbled across a really great blog content planner by Liza Bartis from Bloggerset.com and my god, did I wish I found something like this sooner. It’s way easier to keep track of which stage my blog ideas are at, what the content outlines are, what visual assets I need to create, where I’m going to promote each blog... pretty much everything you would need to consider when writing blogs is in this spreadsheet. Oh, and it’s a FREE resource!
Last but not least, no organisation blog would be complete without my trusty bullet journal; the home of my weekly actions, daily to-do lists, brain dumps, habit trackers and sketches for projects in the pipeline. After using the bullet journal method for over a year and seeing how much more productive and organised I am, I don’t think I could go back to just scribbling lists on random bits of paper that vanish into thin air. It’s also nice to go back to analogue writing when everything else is deep within the digital age.
With my minimalist bullet journal setup (I stay away from spending hours creating intricate spreads as I think the more labour intensive the setup, the less likely I am to use it), I can see what my weeks are looking like at a glance, when I’ll have some time for rest and when I’ll be able to knuckle down on a project outside of my job. It has enabled me to gain a better understanding of how much I actually get done weekly, what tasks I’ve been focusing on, and it also helps me to see which of my habits are falling by the wayside (hello book stack, I’ll read through you soon!)
If you’ve never heard of a bullet journal and don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, here’s a great description from the official website:
“It's best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. It's designed to help you organize your what while you remain aware of your why. The goal of the Bullet Journal is to help its practitioners (bullet journalists) live intentional lives, ones that are productive and meaningful.”
And there you have it, the top 5 tools I use to stay organised. I would love to hear of your experiences with any of these if you try them out, or if there are any other tools you think I should check out, comment below with your thoughts!