I am a full time remote project manager. I also work a side hustle. At the moment, my husband and I are downsizing, moving states, and trying to negotiate a land purchase. That is a lot of projects to keep track of!
Luckily, I’m not trying to manage all these moving pieces just on paper, or worse, just in my head.
I use online productivity tools. Reminders, calendars, colorful labels. Give me all the checklists! I am crazy about them.
Because these tools are too good to keep to myself, I’m going to let you in on my secrets to organizational success.
What I use for my full time job:
This is a project management app and website that lets you create unlimited boards, lists and cards. Your cards live in your lists, and your lists live in your boards. This is called Kanban view. A board can be a project, your to do list, one piece of a larger puzzle, whatever you want! I use Trello to keep track of all the projects I manage for my job.
There are four main lists on my board: Backlog, Doing, Needs Review, and Done. It’s pretty self-explanatory. When I’m assigned tasks from my boss, I create one card per task and add them to the “Backlog” list according to priority. Each day when I sit down to work I pick the most urgent cards from “Backlog” and drag them to “Doing.” When the task is ready for my boss to review, I move them to “Needs Review” and tag her on the card. When we’re both satisfied that the task is complete, the card is moved to “Done.”
I can add checklists, attachments, and comments to any card. I can add labels, members (like my boss when I need her attention), and due dates. I can even set up Trello’s Butler to do a lot of those things for me! Trello is free but with a paid version you can access unlimited Power Ups, which let you add even more useful features. Trello is a lifesaver and is my main squeeze. See a ton of sample boards and #inspiration here.
This is another favorite of mine. It’s a plugin that astronomically ups my email game!
It helps me schedule emails to send later. For example, if you want someone to see an urgent email, sending it at 2 am when you’re writing it probably won’t work; you can set Boomerang to send your email exactly at 8 am so the recipient sees it just as they’re sitting down to work! Boomerang also helps me keep track of those pesky clients who never reply to my emails. I tell Boomerang to return my email if the recipient hasn’t replied, or opened, my email after a certain number of days. When the Boomeranged email returns, it reminds me to reach out to the recipient again for a reply. This is invaluable and I haven’t lost an email since.
I like to use this handy productivity tool for managing projects that mostly take place by email. Streak is a Chrome Extension that takes only 30 seconds to get started. It lets me designate email threads as belonging to different projects. When I open an email, it pops up a side bar related to its project so I can review key details, such as deadlines, stakeholders, date of last email correspondence, or other fields like opportunity value if it’s for a sale. This saves me from having to search through post-its on my desk, or my crowded brain! All the info I need is right there in my inbox.
What I use for my side hustle:
When I’m not working, I’m growing my side hustle. I just started a business selling personalized keepsake decorations.
My website uses an e-commerce platform called GumRoad. It’s a super simple tool that lets you add products and receive payments. But, since I love Trello for tracking my to dos, I wanted to make sure I could use it for my sales as well. Luckily, Zapier lets me integrate Gumroad with Trello.
Whoa, what’s that you say? Let me back up. Zapier is next-level organization for your work. This is one of the greatest productivity tools because it will connect hundreds of apps together to automate tasks for you. For example, every time I get a new sale in GumRoad, Zapier sends the sale information to my Trello board and automatically creates a card in my New Sale list. I told Trello Butler to set a due date of 3 days later for every new sale, and to notify me when a sale is ready for me to make. Once I’ve sent off the product, I drag the sale card to the Shipped list on my Trello board, and Trello Butler automatically checks the due date as complete.
Basically, Zapier is like the back-end coding that goes into a robot, and all you have to do is tell it what you want!
Using Zapier, I could also integrate GumRoad with Airtable, a super-functional online version of Excel, to help me keep track of my bookkeeping and client list. I could tell Zapier to collect the date of sale, amount of sale, and client name and address, and list it all in Airtable for me to use later. Then I can send out newsletters or thank you cards in hopes the customer will remember my product and purchase from me again.
Do you already use Etsy for sales? Zapier doesn’t have an integration with them yet, but Automate.io does!
I would never manage to be so successful without these great productivity tools. But just remember, you get out of them as much as you put into them. If you don’t use them, they won’t use themselves.
I’ve put together a short list of some other productivity tools for you to check out. There are plenty of options, and most with free versions, so make sure to explore!
Zapier – really useful website for automating tasks by connecting one app to another. No coding knowledge needed. Sign up for free here
Gumroad – easy e-commerce platform where you can sell your side hustle products or crafts. Sign up for free here
Automate.io – an alternative to Zapier which may integrate other apps you want, like Etsy. Sign up for free here
Airtable – Like Excel but so much more functional than Excel. Sign up for free here
Pinterest – We all know this. Great for organizing nearly any idea. It’s not just crafting on here – organize your workouts, travel ideas, meal prep, etc. Sign up for free here
Monday – They say they’re a better alternative to Trello Sign up for free here
Trello – has a ton of functions and Power Ups – I particularly love the Butler! Sign up for free here
Streak – A type of CRM (Client Relationship Manager) directly in your email, but you can also use it for tracking projects. Sign up for free here
Boomerang – Indispensable email tool for scheduling an email to send at a certain time, and for one to return if you haven’t gotten a response yet. Sign up for free here
Looking to improve your productivity? Check out this article