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Productivity tools are all the rage today. If you do a simple Google search for “best productivity tools for business”, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of apps and software out there.
I am all about saving time. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t start my own company to work 60 hours per week and forfeit any sort of vacation. Coming from France, I am used to having at least 5 weeks of vacation per year (yup, that’s right, I did say “at least”) so if I can save time somewhere, I am all for it.
And so you don’t have to do all the research I did, today I will be sharing about my tried and true tools and how I actually use them to save time every day.
I absolutely love Trello. It is my brain on the internet. It keeps track of new ideas, clients’ projects, my editorial calendar, task lists for my VA, and all my processes. If you can think of a use for it, I probably have a board for it on Trello.
If you are not familiar with Trello, think of it as one of those giant project boards full of post-it notes. Well, it’s like that, but online.
There are a million ways to use this tool and it seems like everybody uses it a little bit differently. For me there are really a few ways I do this:
There are many other productivity tools similar to Trello, like Asana, Airtable, Monday.com, Basecamp. Trello is the one that works for me, but you might want to check them all out and decide which one works best with the way you work.
If there is one thing that doesn’t usually come to mind when talking about productivity tools, it’s emails. Emails used to be this amazing thing that allowed people to communicate easily and seamlessly. Well no more.
Today our inboxes are cluttered and constantly demanding our attention with unwanted emails and long email threads.
While those issues are still there, Spark has a few key features that help me keep my emails more manageable:
Besides the tool itself, I find that one of the best ways to tame your inbox is to turn off your email provider when you are working on a project. Commit to be distraction-free for that time. Even better, set aside half an hour in the morning and/or evening. Try to dedicate that time to your emails and forget them the rest of the day.
If your clients really need to reach you in a hurry, they will give you a call.
When I started my business, I used to send a link to a Google Drive with the images in small resolution for my clients to review. They would need to look at them one by one in Google drive (less than ideal) and write down the name of the picture they chose before typing it in an email and sending it back to me.
Talk about a poor client experience.
As I grew my business, I realized that the quality of the client experience was as important as (if not more important than) the quality of the images I was delivering. So I looked for a way to deliver the images in a manner that was both efficient and beautiful.
I found Pixieset and I never looked back. Here are the features that I love about it:
A great alternative is Pixpa.com. It packs the same time-saving client gallery features and also includes some strong website design capabilities. Definitely worth checking it out!
Canva is not a productivity tool per se, but when you have to design graphics for social media, it can save you a lot of time. Because of that, I decided to include it in this list.
I have a background as a graphic designer, so I know how to use Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop. Yet Canva is one of my favorite online design programs.
It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the Adobe software but it is very easy to use, it’s free for individuals, and you can get a design cranked out in a matter of minutes.
I have created on-brand templates for my stories, Pinterest graphics, freebies, welcome packets, and so many more things! I can just go back at any time and make small (or big) changes. Sometimes I’ll share with my teammates so they can work on the designs too.
They also recently introduced a new feature that allows you to publish your design online. You can send your clients to a URL to check out your proposals, welcome packet, pricing sheet, etc.
There’s a great blog on site where they share design tips and trends, and they have the ‘design school’ where you can learn how to use Canva and the basic principles of graphic design. Be sure to check out their interactive tutorials.
I discovered Shift only recently and I love it. It’s basically an app that keeps all your other apps in one place. I know it sounds useless, but it’s really not.
Instead of having a gazillion tabs and apps open, cluttering your desktop, they just live right on the app. From my Shift space, I can access my emails, Messenger, Facebook, Slack, Trello, Upwork, Dubsado, whatsapp, IOS notes, Canva, LastPass, Spotify, and many may more.
You decide which apps you want to add from a list of hundreds (not kidding). Once you set up your workspace, you can switch between apps without opening a new window or flipping through tabs.
But what I like most is that when I close Shift, I effectively turn off all the notifications at once. Finally, some uninterrupted focus time.
Another amazing tool that I use a lot is IFTTT (If This Then That). It basically allows you to connect to all your social media, productivity apps, websites, and more. You create rules so that an action on one app triggers an action on another app. The best part is, you don’t have to lift a finger.
For example: every time you publish a new blog post, it can share it on your Facebook page. Or, every time you take a screenshot with your phone, it saves it to a Google folder. You get the gist. The possibilities are endless and you can browse the combinations that people have created as well. You will find some pretty ingenious hacks.
Dubsado. I use it to keep track of all my invoices and contracts, as well as my leads. I also set up workflows that will send welcome packets, email updates, reminders to myself, etc. It is a very powerful tool, so I wrote a whole blog post about how to use it.
Tailwind. I use this app regularly. It allows me to schedule two weeks of pins on Pinterest in about half an hour. As a matter of fact, it’s such a time saver that I talked about it in my Pinterest for Photographers blog post.
There you have it! My 5 favorite productivity tools for photographers. I hope this will inspire you to streamline your workflows and invest the time to look into these apps. They could save you hours down the line! Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to get notified of new posts and to get exclusive content and tips!