Is your Accounting Software just feeling like MORE work?

Is your Accounting Software just feeling like MORE work?

Do your accounting tools provide the insights you need? 

For many business owners, the bookkeeping and accounting side of things is a necessary evil. I mean, it’s great when you can send out a bunch of invoices and log a bunch of payments because that feels really concrete and means you can keep things going for another day/week/year. Huzzah! Yet, the process of keeping things up to date in your accounting software can seem really daunting.

While you know, intuitively, that the numbers in your business should be able to give you some valuable information, it isn’t always obvious how to generate that data. The process of understanding your books, your cash flow, maybe even be able to run a few projections would be super valuable…but how do you accomplish it all? 

In many cases, unless you have an amazing bookkeeper or accountant, or an advanced business degree, you’re likely relying on your accounting software and/or a few spreadsheets to accomplish this. But how do you know you have the right accounting program for the job and are you using it to its full potential? There is a large variety of programs out there, many of them in the cloud and super convenient, things have come a long way. 

Some options for Accounting Software:

If you’re just starting out, have a fairly simple business model, or don’t want to be overwhelmed with data right now there are few more simple options out there. These might sync with your bank data, allow you to create invoices, accept payments, and add expenses. This will generally mean you can generate a Profit & Loss Statement and a Trial Balance, which is often what you need to file taxes. These also will allow you to track unpaid invoices, and generate an Aging Report so you can follow up with those who still owe you money. Some examples might include Freshbooks, WaveApps, or even have some great features that help you keep track of many of the daily functions you’ll need.

For more robust and traditional accounting software, you’ll likely hear about Quickbooks Online or Xero. Quickbooks has been a small business standard in the US for quite some time and is likely familiar to most accountants which is a plus. Some other contenders are Netsuite and Sage which add some automation functionality to their feature list. There are lots of options available and provided the software you choose generates the data your accountant needs, you’re all set. 

So what features do you need? 

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine which software options may be the right fit for your business.

First, a few things you should always look for: 
1. Create single and recurring invoices and be able to apply payments and credits.
2. Track your expenses and be able to categorize them for your P&L and Trial Balance.
3. Sync your bank account to more easily track your transactions, but make sure you have the ability to approve/match transactions (or you can easily end up with lots of double entry)!
4. Basic reporting like P&L, Trial Balance, Aging, Customer statements, Accounts payable reports, etc.
5. Sales Tax reporting and functionality

Some more advanced features: 
1. Bank reconciliations – if you have a lot of transactions/payments, this is a must to ensure you are capturing all activity that hits your bank account.
2. Advanced Reporting – Previous year/period comparisons, custom reports, and more.
3. Visualization of Data – cash flow, income and expense data can be so helpful to see in charts and graphs. 
4. Audit logs – if you have more than one person handling your data this can be immensely helpful so you can track down changes and potential errors. Also useful if you’re solo but can’t remember when/why you made a change.
5. Journal entries – a way to use double entry accounting to make adjustments to your books that are otherwise exceedingly complicated.
6. Deposit reports – so useful if you deposit checks / credit cards in batches and need to go back to adjust or track something down.
 7. Inventory tracking – this is usually an advanced feature and not available in more simple accounting software. 
8. Payroll – this can sometimes be found in simpler software but worth double checking the features.


 Make sure your accounting system can help your business grow.


If you start off with a more simple option,make sure you’re taking stock of where you want to be in the future. It’s not overly complicated to switch systems as you go, but if your business is growing, it may feel like more trouble than its worth. However, if your accounting system isn’t providing functionality and requires a huge amount of manual entry, double checking, and a huge shuffle every few months to do your taxes at year-end…then it may not be doing its job very well at all.

Put some thought into the functionality you’ll want and need in a few months or years time and see if having those features now is really that much more expensive than the lesser option. If you’re talking a few extra dollars a month to get everything you may need? It might be worth it to start with those functions up front and give your self room to grow. 

Also, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by technology, especially when it is in an area of business that is not your strength. If you’re finding yourself easily frustrated and having trouble making things work, see if you can find someone to help evaluate your business and the software you are using to help problem solve. Perhaps the software isn’t the right fit or perhaps you aren’t aware of some functionality that you could use to make things more efficient.

 The goal should always be to make your business run smoothy and not draw your attention away from the things you enjoy and what bring in your revenue. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need some clarity, it is worth taking the time to learn more before getting too frustrated. Keeping your books up to date and easy to manage can make a huge difference in your mental state and the financial success of your business. 

Looking for some clarity with your books?

If you’re still struggling to make sense of all this, let’s talk. Hopefully a little insight and strategies will help get you on the right track and let you get back to building the business you love.

Choosing the Best Customer Management System for your Small Business

Choosing the Best Customer Management System for your Small Business

As previously guest posted on Honestly Able

As business owners, customer management is the name of the game.

Whether you run a brick and mortar business or an online one, getting to know your customers and making sure they’re taken care of is likely your highest priority.

For many of us, the first step in tackling this challenge is a Google session or getting some recommendations from friends and colleagues. Unfortunately (or fortunately), no two businesses are alike and often the needs of one don’t necessarily line up with what you’re looking for. More often than not, you’ll end up with a ton of new websites to check out and immediately get overwhelmed by the vast number of options and customizations that are available. Before long, you’re seeing dollar signs piling up and you’ll quickly price yourself out of your first few choices and want to throw your hands up in exasperation. Sound familiar?

Before you dig in, there are a few things you’ll want to think about:

  1. What is your single most important MUST HAVE requirement for a customer management system? Beyond recording customer details (names, addresses and phone numbers, notes etc.), do you need an all in one system to track work orders, invoicing and payments? Are you looking for something specific to your industry?

For me, I needed a way to track customer details and conversations from start to finish and work with our accounting program. In a straight CRM, this can be a very costly endeavor. However, once I narrowed down my search to “business management systems”, I found more choices that were within my budget. Some of the enterprise level companies just aren’t cut out for small business and that’s ok. Just make sure you don’t overpay for the features you need when a smaller, lesser known company might be a better fit. As an added bonus, a smaller company is likely to be more willing to listen to your feature requests and make sure the product keeps you happy!

  1. What are you willing to pay? Do you need something free for now and scalable in future? Many solutions are paid monthly or on a subscription basis, so it’s easy to add/remove features as necessary. There are also a number of free solutions that you can pay to add additional functionality or integrations like bookkeeping software, scheduling, inventory management, etc.

I really thought a free solution was going to be the way to go for us. I found one that I could tailor to do about 75% of what we needed and thought I could add the rest with integrations. Yet, I kept coming across the same roadblocks and when I jotted down the things I was compromising on, they were the same things I’d listed in step #1…the must-haves. Instead, we found a great solution and compromised by not adding all of our people at once to help keep costs down. Not everyone is very tech savvy so a few employees were going to be hard sells anyway. This way, we keep everyone happy AND keep our costs from skyrocketing. As we prove the benefits of the system, we can add more accounts as we need them.

  1. Start small. If you’re not sure a  paid solution is exactly right, ask for a demo. Many offer demos for a certain length of time and will often extend them if you ask nicely. Arrange some time to let them show off their features too, you never know what you might discover that could be useful to you.

More often than not, you’ll want the company who goes the extra mile to prove that their system is right for you. Chances are, they also don’t want customers who will constantly complain because they can’t make things work properly for their business. A good company will give you some leads on other programs that you could try if they feel theirs isn’t the best fit.

  1. Still not sure? Try out some task management or communication programs first and get your system in place before you move forward.

Long before we paid for a solution we went through a variety of other “systems” as we honed in on our process. There are lots of fancy programs out there that seem amazing, but if they aren’t intuitive and easy for you to use…you won’t use them. Start out with a spreadsheet (heck, we started on paper *gasp*), a Trello board, an Asana checklist or maybe just a Slack conversation. Figure out what you need to track and how it makes sense to track it. Do you have multiple steps to your customer interactions? Do you need to exchange information with another program in order to invoice/email customers? What information are you constantly typing over and over as you move a client from a potential customer to a fully paid, happy customer? This information will be invaluable as you start making your list of Must Haves for your future customer management system.

Bottom line, don’t sell yourself short. Stick to your Must Have items and keep looking for what you need. It’s out there, even if you have to spend some time trying a few other solutions before you hit on the right customer management system for your business.

Struggling to a CRM that FITS your business?

Are you struggling with choosing a customer management system for your small business? Feel like you’re spending too much time managing your current CRM? Download my worksheet and make sure your systems are working FOR you, not making you work overtime to keep your company moving forward.

What is Slack and Why You Should Care? Collaboration…Optimized

What is Slack and Why You Should Care? Collaboration…Optimized

Is there anything more frustrating than sending an email to a team member and then waiting for them to get back to you? How often do you find yourself doing “busy” work until that crucial bit of information finds its way through the email servers and back to your desk? Remember that email exchange you had with a colleague a few months ago that outlines something useful for your current work? Well, good luck finding it.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

With email, we’re constantly assuming we got our point across but how often have you reread something you sent only to circle back and realize you didn’t ask the whole question?

Enter Slack

I know what you’re thinking…do I really want to learn another online platform? Let me assure you, if you can handle email, Facebook or old school messenger apps like AIM or Trillian…you can handle Slack.

Slack is a super easy way to keep teams in the know with minimal fuss and bother. Here are my favorite features and some suggestions on how to utilize them:

Ps: Slack has awesome help files so I won’t recreate the wheel here. Keep an eye out for helpful links!

Slack is a huge leap forward in collaboration! Everything is in ONE place.

    • Connect Your Team – Once everyone is signed up, you can easily see who is online and who is away. Give your team permission to be “away”! No one can get any work done if they’re constantly interrupted, so make some time for focus and deep work. Direct messages are a quick way to directly chat with someone but channels are where the magic happens.
    • Choose Your ChannelsChannels are like topics or themes. You start off with #general and #random but can easily add more to suite your needs and designate who has permission to access them. For example, you might want a channel for each project, team, financials, recognition, suggestions, and more. I’d advise that you keep it simple and slowly let it evolve as your team gets moving. Every time you feel like you’re performing an action one too many times…it’s likely a good idea to think about how you can move that information more efficiently.
      • The Magic – The beauty of channels is that everyone can see what’s being discussed. This is a huge leap forward in collaboration. Wondering how best to manage your projects? Think about all of your texts, emails, PMs, DMs, memos, forms, to-do lists, support tickets, calendar events, faxes (yes, they do still exist), post-it notes and more…all in one place. So often, we feel like we’re working in an isolated state but think how much more effective we can be if our questions, notes, insights, and ideas are spoken about openly and with multiple perspectives? Suddenly, new insights are pouring in and a new perspective might just change the way you are thinking about your project.
    •  Access Important Files – Slack integrates with Google Drive and much more, but you can also pin those files within slack so they’re within easy reach. If you’re working on a project and constantly reaching for the same few files, pin them to the applicable channel and they’re good to go. No more emailing the files to new team members or sifting through massive amounts of emails for those documents you’re sure someone sent you. It’s also super simple to share directly within Slack and create checklists, bullet points, outlines and code snippets (if you’re into that).
      • Search and you shall find – Not only does Slack store all this great stuff, it’s super easy to search and find whatever you are looking for. You can also filter the search so if you’re a bit hazy on the details, chances are you can still get to the information you need.
    • Notifications  – Don’t be afraid to CUSTOMIZE! Everyone has different thresholds for the white noise. Set a few ground rules so that direct @mentions shouldn’t get ignored, but in general, you can likely let your team create their own notifications. There are some easy ways to alert everyone and we’ll get into that next.
    • There’s a Bot for That – Firstly, get to know Slackbot. You can set it up to answer many common questions (wifi password, who do you send expense reports to, when is my timecard due, when is quittin’ time). Make them fun and specific to your team or just keep them simple. Beyond Slackbot, the sky’s the limit. Need a bot to take coffee orders? How about a quick office poll? Want to track your todo list? There are tons of integrations with other software like Trello, Jira, Mailchimp, Analytics and so much more.
    • Integrations – Not only is Slack an awesome tool for the reasons mentioned above, but you can also bring integrations into play and really up your game. Whether you want to streamline invoicing and accounting or schedule social media there are tons of ways to meet your needs. Slack allows you to bring all the information you need to run your business to ONE place. Think about that for a second. That’s HUGE! As someone who values having everything at her fingertips,everything you need to run your business in ONE place.

Like with any good tool, you need to think about how Slack can be used effectively. Write down your top few hurdles and start with those. Get some team members to give suggestions and input. If the ideas seem sound, TRY IT OUT. What have you got to lose?

Make a plan and don’t be afraid to adapt as you go.

Create a quick, easy to use guide with your organization’s current Slack practices pinned to one of your main channels (and prompt Slackbot on where to find it too!). That way, all users have an easy way to see what’s new, what’s working and what ideas have become defunct. Encourage new ideas by offering a small reward for ideas that are implemented and successful for your team. Don’t worry, there’s a bot for that too.

Want to figure out how Slack can help your business?

Online tools are amazing, but I totally get that it can seem hugely time consuming and overwhelming to get them set up. Let me help walk you through it and figure out how to harness the tools to work FOR you, rather than creating more busy work.

How to Guide: Using Calendar for your iPhone

How to Guide: Using Calendar for your iPhone

Since days gone by, calendars have been an integral part of our lives. Marking the passage of time or anticipating future events is the way in which we make sense of the world. Think about it. How do you measure your life? Success? Failures? It’s a little bit trippy, right?

Calendars allow me to keep my focus on things and people that matter most rather than on the daily minutiae.

Chances are, you already have a calendar in your life be it a traditional paper one, digital (on your phone and/or computer) or otherwise. I used to find the process of writing out a paper calendar onerous and avoided it at all costs. These days, I’m finding that a little advance planning by jotting down my tasks and appointments for the week/month/year has a way of helping me keep track of it all and make the appropriate amount of space for it. I am not always the most diligent at checking in with my calendar however, so having the digital component is a necessity. Those annoying little reminders have saved my tush on more than one occasion.

Alerts are annoying but indispensable because they make sure you don’t forget the items you’ve painstakingly collected on your calendar.

Without a calendar, it’s next to impossible to be productive. Scheduling time for tasks, appointments, learning, self-care, family is an important part of keeping you healthy and happy. I prefer NOT to live by the clock, it creates an intense sense of urgency that I find overwhelming. Some people can keep a ton of information in their heads and not miss a thing. I could if I had to, but I’d rather spend that energy elsewhere. Having a good system for adding, updating and reminding me of important tasks and appointment allows me to keep my focus on things and people that matter most rather than on the daily minutiae.

Much like Reminders this is an integral part of my daily routine though I largely check it once (if that) and ignore it throughout the day unless a reminder pops up. Here’s how it all comes together…


This can get a little complex so bear with me. I’m going to assume we’re starting from day 1 though you likely are already a few steps in.

  1. Check your Mail Settings: This likely sounds counter intuitive however, if you sync your mail accounts (Gmail, outlook, iCloud etc.) to your iPhone, you’ll need to make sure your Calendar is or is NOT being synced. If you want to keep items separated and available via your Google or Outlook calendar, then you may want to enable these to sync. If you’d prefer to access your calendar only on your phone/mac/iCloud account then I’d suggest you do NOT enable any calendar syncing. However, if you sync a work email and people often send you appointment requests via your work email…please sync. Settings > Mail > Accounts > (click on each account to enable/disable)
  2. Check your visible Calendars & Customize: Open the Calendar app and at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see “Calendars”. Tap this to view your viewable calendars. From here, you can see your iCloud calendars (native to your phone) and any additional calendars you’ve enabled down below. Make sure to customize this list so it works for you, color code as applicable. I tend to have a calendar for each family member, work etc., but you may also consider Events, Appointments, Health (gym, running, Doc) and others depending on your lifestyle. You may even color code based on the types of work you are doing like writing, social media, graphics, networking, mastermind, etc.) Don’t be afraid to experiment and it’s pretty simple to change at a later date if you wish to.
  3. Add your “Events”: This can be time consuming, but it gets easier as you move forward. Take a bit of time to add any important events coming up this week/month. If you’ve got time, keep adding for the next few months until you run out of things to add. Sometimes it helps to break up the importing process so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming but I often get into the flow and want to keep going!
  4. Choose your View: You’ve got a few options as to how you SEE your events. On the top left corner you can toggle from the year view (overview of just the months/dates), to the month view (you can also tap the details view to see a list of tasks/events for the selected day including color codes) and the day view which shows you the hours of the day with the events spaced accordingly (using your color codes!). When in the day view, you can also tap the list view to see a list of all tasks/events in a list for easy scrolling.
  5. Review your schedule: Now that you’ve got everything set up, you want to determine how you’ll use your calendar. Do you want to view it each morning and throughout the day? Do you work better with a paper planner and take time each week to transfer any pertinent information and strategize your day/week? The trick is to try a few methods and figure out what works best for your brain. Then, set the habit. Make a commitment to yourself that you’ll use this system (tweaking as necessary) for at least 30 days. Once you get past day 22, you’re good to go.
  6. Be sure to set alerts: If you’re anything like me, alerts will be your saving grace. Any time I add a calendar event, I make sure an alert is also set. Alerts are the little windows that pop up and annoy you right when you’re watching a funny video or sending that last work email. Yet, they’re indispensable because they make sure you don’t forget the items you’ve painstakingly collected on your calendar. Make sure your alerts are appropriate. Reminding yourself about a Dr. appointment 5 minutes before when it’s a 30-minute drive won’t be effective.
  7. Break down tasks: It’s easy to forget about a task once you’ve put it on your calendar. So make sure you add sub-tasks as necessary too. If you’ve got a kids birthday party this weekend, maybe add a sub-task for earlier in the week to buy the gift. Just like your todo list, you need to be sure you set yourself up for success rather than being frustrated by perceived failure. If the system isn’t working, reevaluate and find the flaw.

Common phrases for my favorite assistant
Siri is great with calendars but the lingo can be a bit confusing at times. Be sure to replace the information in brackets and the dates/times with your own.

  • Schedule a [meeting with Joe] tomorrow at 3 pm. The basics follow this syntax: Schedule a [title you want to appear for event] [date] at [time] in [location]. If you add a location, Siri will also set up an alert when it’s “time to leave” based on Maps with estimated traffic. Pretty handy at times.
  • Move (or Reschedule) my 10 am meeting tomorrow. Siri will then ask when you want to reschedule it, nice huh?
  • Cancel my dentist appointment on Thursday. Siri will confirm before deleting the appointment.
  • What’s on my calendar for [date]. Handy if you’re not sure which appointment needs to be moved/canceled or for getting a quick synopsis of your day’s events.
  • Schedule my workout every Monday at 6 am at [Gym Name]. Set recurring events!

Don’t sweat it if you don’t get the hang of it right away, Siri is pretty great once you get used to her but there’s a definite learning curve. She will also prompt for missing information if some of your command made sense, so just keep at it until you get it right. There’s no one way to tell her what you want, so find the syntax that feels natural to you and you’ll make it work.

How To Guide: Using Reminders for your iPhone

How To Guide: Using Reminders for your iPhone

I’m the Queen of downloading new apps just to see what they can do, hoping they’ll solve my endless dilemma of keeping organized. Despite the number of apps I download, I always fall back on the simple apps that come with my iPhone because they JUST WORK. That, and they use my favorite virtual assistant ….Siri. She and I aren’t always on the best of terms, let’s just say we misunderstand each other frequently. However, when your hands are full and you’re juggling kids, diapers, homework, library books, dinner menus, grocery runs and a million other things, you take what you can get.

I always fall back on the simple apps that come with my iPhone because they JUST WORK.

Hands down, there is no app I use more on my phone than Reminders. That seems insane, but it’s true. Driving to daycare and realize I need to remember something for work? I get Siri on the line and make a reminder for later that day. Making dinner and realize we just used the last of the apple cider vinegar? (Yes, that’s happened.) Siri to the rescue again. The beauty of it is, once I get Siri on the case…I can forget about it until the reminder pops up again. The danger is, we live in a somewhat rural area so cell/wifi service can be spotty at times. There have been occasions when I try to make a reminder via Siri and it won’t work due to reception issues. My brain is so trained to “forget” the reminder once I’ve spoken the words that sometimes…I cannot for the life of me recall whatever it is I was trying to set a reminder about! Perhaps it’s just my mom brain kicking in…but man, is it ever annoying.



  1. When you first open reminders, you’ll see a list aptly named….”Reminders”. Swipe down until you see the search bar at the top and a plus sign on the right.
  2. Use the plus sign to add new Lists. Some suggestions: Groceries, Home, Work, Clients, Kids, Family, Events, etc. Think simple and you can always add on as you go. Using simple list names makes it easier to interact with Siri.
  3. Tap each list to see the tasks contained within.

  4. Color code. Take a minute to color code your lists or make sure the default colors catch your eye. Tap the edit button and choose your colors.
  5. Choose ones that catch your eye.

  6. Sharing is caring. If you have a spouse, kids or a colleague who should have access to a list, make sure to share so you can both view and add to it. Tap the edit button and “Add person”.
  7. Share your reminder list with a spouse or other person you might collaborate with.

  8. Set your default list. This will be the list you most often use for deadlines (mine is work). You can always edit a reminder once added, but I like to know most of them are going to a list I check often so that I can reassign as necessary. Settings > General > Reminders > Default List

My Most used Siri phrases
Replace the words in brackets and the list names with the ones you created.

  • Add to my Grocery List
  • Remind me to when I get home.
  • Remind me to call back at 7 pm tonight.
  • Add to my Family List.
  • Remind me to every Tuesday at 7:30 pm.
  • When I get to work, remind me to create a todo list.
  • Remind me to every two weeks on Sunday at 9 am.
  • What’s on my Grocery list? (displays the list for you!)
  • What are today’s reminders? (displays anything with today as a due date)
  • Remind me about this. (when using an Apple app you can get a reminder added to your list that bookmarks the app you were viewing and what you were looking at, to be revisited later.)
  • Little known feature! From an Apple app, ask Siri to remind you to “respond to a text, read an article” and much more.

Using To Do Lists and Calendars like a Boss

Using To Do Lists and Calendars like a Boss

I love me a good todo list app. I frequently download one and load in all my upcoming items, convinced this is the next big thing in keeping myself accountable. I’ll move my shiny new icon onto my phone’s home screen and be totally jazzed to jump feet first into my new app. A few weeks will go by and I’ll find myself slacking off (again) or resorting to an old system. Before I know it, the shiny new app has lost its luster and I’ll move it off my home screen and relegate it to a folder where it collects dust until I finally delete it.

There are two factors at play here.

  1. If you’re really going to commit to a new app or system for your todo list, you have to stick it out for more than 3 weeks. Twenty one days makes a habit and if you can last a month, you likely have a chance of making it stick.
  2. Not all apps are created equal. More often than not, they address one particular problem and don’t necessarily integrate all aspects of your life. We’re busy people and we have more going on that just work or family or kids. For an app to do it all, it has to be pretty darn amazing. That or be entirely customizable, which would require huge upfront time on your part to set it up just so, and who has time for that?!

Despite my tendency to download all the latest and greatest productivity apps out there, I keep coming back to the same native iPhone apps time after time (sorry Android users, but I’m sure you have equivalents!). You can’t beat their simplicity and yet, they have amazing functionality. The bells and whistles of other apps are great, and I get pulled in by their shiny features all the time. However, for hard core utility (and voice control), I just keep coming back to these two apps.

For hard core utility (and voice control), I just keep coming back to the same two apps. Reminders & Calendar.

I use Calendar to record all my actual real time events. Things like work meetings, doctor appointments, school holidays, my husband’s work events outside normal hours, kid parties and family events. Sometimes I’ll even throw in something that needs a due date so when I’m checking on my upcoming week I’ll get a visual reminder.

Reminders are more for the little things that take up unnecessary brain space if I don’t get them out of my head. Remember to feed the neighbor’s cat, submit that weekly report on time, check out a new resource I heard about on a podcast or just adding items to my grocery list for my next trip to the store. These are small but essential things that are easily forgotten.

It’s not just picking the tools, it’s creating a system you can stick with so the tools do their jobs.

Once you establish where you keep these kinds of items and lists, the trick is to create your system so that you don’t forget. If you’re transitioning from a paper based system of crumbled post-its and torn of shreds of legal paper….you may need to set a reminder for yourself to brain dump once or twice a day until it becomes a natural tendency. This system can work really well with a paper-based system as well. Rather than having a jumble of different information on various lists, it is fairly easy to keep future events organized via Calendar, smaller items organized via Reminders and then have a paper based notebook for the current day/week. The beauty of paper is that the act of writing something down often helps it to stick. There’s science behind that, I swear.

Features I’ve just got to have (I often compare these to any app functionality if I’m feeling tempted).

Calendar: A relatively basic feature on any smartphone, key functionality being:

  • Add upcoming events (dates and time)
  • Recurring events (set events to recur daily, weekly, monthly, yearly etc.)
  • Alerts (lets you know an event is imminent, I usually set at least 2 for important ones)
  • Multiple calendars (color code based on family member, work, holidays, groceries, what have you)
  • Shared calendars (share to other people so colleagues or family members get updates or alerts as well if they need to know about a specific event)
  • Voice control (you do your best thinking in the car, on your daily run or when cooking dinner, inevitably you need to get it out of your head before you forget…”Hey Siri…make an appointment for tomorrow at 10 am to write guest post”)

Reminders: Think lists! With some great added features like:

  • Scheduling (set a date/time for it to be “due”)
  • Multiple Lists (I have one for work, family, groceries, home and the handy “Scheduled” list that shows everything with a specific due date)
  • Shared lists (so I can create my honey-do list and check up on the progress.)
  • Voice control (because, hands free is so very necessary…”Hey Siri, add eggs to my grocery list.” or “Hey Siri, remind me to call Marvin the Martian when I get to work.”)

More to come in detailed “How To” Guides!”

Dont Overcomplicate your To Do List: Getting Stuff Done

Dont Overcomplicate your To Do List: Getting Stuff Done

If only you could conquer your to-do list, you’d be insanely organized and successful! That’s the goal right? Unfortunately, the reality is anything but. It’ so easy to get caught up in the writing and doing the tasks or downloading a new app that WILL finally make the process easier. As with all things, there is no magic bullet or foolproof method that will get you motivated and keep you on track. Don’t shoot the messenger!

Find your system, stick with it and trust your gut.

If you can set up some good habits in dealing with your goals and to-dos, you’ll be far better served in the long run. This might sound a little lofty and woo-woo, but trust me. I’m a gadget girl, I love new apps and have an addiction to all things shiny. Yet, the more I try…the more I get frustrated because I can’t find that ONE perfect system for me. The fact is, everyone has little quirks and idiosyncrasies that make it impossible to copy their exact system with any success. It’s all about the tweaks and adaptations that YOU need to make your system perfect for you. That being said, there are certainly some good rules to live by.

Here’s where you can begin:

What’s in your pocket? Most of us carry our phone around 24/7. You may be trying to cut back on your phone addiction, but when you use something every day that’s typically the best place to store your important to-dos. From a pure convenience standpoint, it just makes sense. If you want to add a secondary system for tracking long-term projects and goals, that’s great! Just make sure you have a quick and easy way to jot down tasks when you’re on the go, up to your ears in groceries or blinking owlishly at your ceiling when trying to fall asleep. If your go-to pocket item is a notebook, then the same theories apply. The simple answer is usually the best one!

The simple answer is usually the best one!

Create a ritual. Some sort of consistent reminder or trigger to plan your day/week/month is huge. It could be a reminder on your phone or just a habit you cultivate before bed/when you get up each day. You know what will work best and what you won’t let yourself slide on. Just make sure you create some space to brain dump and organize your thoughts each and every day. Once you have the system in place, it’ll become second nature.

Set your goals. It’s so easy to get caught up in grinding through the daily to-dos. Some big picture goals and aspirations help to ground you. When you hear that alarm going off in your brain about this “thing” that MUST be addressed…think about your goals. Does it push your goal forward? Does it add value to your home and family life? If you answer no to either of these, then why are you letting it stress you out? Table it and move on, if it comes back around then maybe you need to consider it again…but for now, move along.

Adapt as you go. We’re human and we’re very very fallible. We like to change our minds just because. This isn’t a terrible thing, change makes life interesting. If your current system isn’t working, make a slight pivot and keep on pushing forward. Keep things interesting and keep your brain engaged, provided you keep your goals in your sites…you’re golden.

As humans, we always try to distill meaning or don’t trust our own selves because we’re sure there’s someone out there funnier, smarter, better and more knowledgeable than we are. There sure could be. Yet, that doesn’t make YOU any less valid. The hard part is knowing when to tell your brain to shut up and just keep reaching for the stars. Find your system, stick with it and trust your gut.

The hard part is knowing when to tell your brain to shut up and just keep reaching for the stars.

Stay tuned for my next article on some of my favorite tools and the tricks I use to keep myself sane and on task.

How to Build your Knowledge Base as Painlessly as Possible

How to Build your Knowledge Base as Painlessly as Possible

What do you think when you hear “Knowledge Base”? I don’t have time for that! Sounds like a lot of work for very little benefit. My team has higher priorities than that right now. Maybe once things slow down…

If you’re not familiar, a knowledge base is simply a repository for all the information you need to run your business. Onboarding a new client? Hiring a new receptionist? Finishing up a project and need to review everything that was completed? As business owners, these types of scenarios are extremely common and they can eat up a ton of your time. Most of this knowledge is stored in your brain and is theoretically available any time you need it. But what happens when you need someone else to share to load? Or worse, what happens when you bring on a new client and halfway through the project realize you forgot a crucial step?

Mistakes happen. Heck, if you’re building a successful business you’re bound to make more mistakes than wins. Instead of spending your time searching through your sent items for the latest client onboarding email, why not have a central depository where all this information is stored for when you need it? With a few simple steps, you can set yourself up to create your knowledge base and gradually add to it over time.

Choose your weapon: G-Suite (Google) is an obvious choice because it’s free, accessible from anywhere and has a ton of functionality. Office 360, Apple iCloud, CRM programs, Trello, Asana, Slack, Wikis or intranet site are all great options as well. The trick is, pick something that you use almost every day to begin with. If you’re not using it currently or have no future plans to incorporate it into your workflow, chances are…you won’t succeed.

Brainstorm your Structure: This doesn’t have to be a time suck. Just take a few minutes to think about the things that drive you crazy or take up the most amount of time. Email templates, Checklists for common projects/tasks, Customer Interactions/Upselling, Marking/Promotional Material, Employee Job Descriptions/Manuals to name a few. Chances are, if you’ve been in business for a little while, you already have working versions of many of these. Make a list of the overarching categories and create some folders to correspond to these. Don’t worry too much, this can evolve over time as needs change or you learn more about how you want things organized.

Add your Content: If you can dedicate some time to this at the beginning, amazing. If not, don’t panic. Just add as you go. The trick is, setting yourself some sort of trigger so that you remember to add the content when you’re finished with it and happy with the end product. Sent an awesome customer welcome letter? Add to your Email Template folder. Whether you do this in the moment or set a reminder for yourself at the end of your work session to review, it doesn’t matter. Just keep on reminding yourself to check in with your knowledge base and keep it current.

Reap the Time Savings: There’s no question that good organization can be a huge time saver. When you’re running the business, you want to spend the least amount of time on the busy work and get back to doing what you love. Whether that’s speaking directly to clients or spending time with your family, the better your knowledge base the easier those goals will be to achieve. Then, the next time you’re wondering how you vetted your last vendor you can pull up your handy checklist and be confident you have all the questions you need answered at your fingertips.

I’m not going to lie. This process can be somewhat time consuming. Yet, not only will you save yourself time in the long run, you’ll also be unconsciously honing your business practices and finding ways to better your business thriving and your customers coming back for more.

Crazy Simple Keyboard shortcuts that save piles of time

Crazy Simple Keyboard shortcuts that save piles of time

I’m typically a patient person. Really, I am. But if I find myself repeating the same task or action over and over and over again, I get very frustrated.

One of the biggest timesavers I’ve come to rely upon are keyboard shortcuts. Fortunately for me, most operating systems have made it much easier to locate the shortcuts and often list them right in the menu. This makes it amazingly simple to find and use the commands you use the most. That said, there are a few shortcuts that I’ve used across many businesses almost universally.

(Note: Ctrl is for PC users, Cmd for Mac users. For the purposes of this article, I’ll use the PC keys. I’m a Mac girl, really I am.)

A few that I can’t live without:

Alt + Tab = Switching between windows
Seriously. I use this about a million times a day. I’m always jumping back and forth between different programs (though I should probably try to limit this behavior). Bonus points if you hold down the Alt button and hit the Tab just once (while still holding Alt), you get a nice little snapshot view of your open programs and can quickly navigate (using Tab) to the one you want next.

2. Ctrl + C/V = Copy/paste
If I don’t have to touch my mouse, let alone right-click, I’m a happy girl. Using the mouse can be a huge time suck for me (I get made fun of often for how quickly I type). Ctrl (for PC) or Cmd (for Mac) + C works for copying your selection and Ctrl/Cmd V is to paste. Amazing.

3. Ctrl + T = New browser tab
How often do you find yourself replying to an email or putting some information together in your browser when you suddenly remember a certain site or article you read that you want to refer to. For the life of you, you can’t remember the name! Rather than saving your work and having to come back to it or trying to find that teeny tiny “new tab” button, you easily open a new browser tab with this shortcut!

4. Ctrl + (numbers 1 – 9) = Switch between browser tabs
After you’ve opened up all those new browser tabs, you need a way to move between quickly! This shortcut is my new best friend. I could definitely see myself creating some structure around the way I order my tabs so I can quickly navigate to the ones I use most without having to read each tab. Milliseconds will be saved, I’m sure of it.

5. Ctrl + Shift + (arrow keys) = Select text
How many times have you attempted to highlight a few words or lines and had to repeat the process three times until you got the exact highlight you wanted? Be honest now, we’re all friends here. This little shortcut can be a life saver, especially when you want to hurl your mouse at the wall.

6. Ctrl + Z = Undo (and Y to Redo)
If you’re anything like me, your brain is about five steps ahead of your fingers at times. When you find yourself wondering how your credit card number got dropped into your latest blog article draft, Ctrl Z can quickly remove it again.

Mac Only: (for PC I use the Snipping Tool)
7. Cmd + Shift + 4 = Screenshot a section of your screen
I tend to find myself trying to explain something to someone (or want to make a reference for later) and just want to screenshot a small portion of my screen. Hit these three keys and your mouse becomes a set of crosshairs. You can then click and drag to select the area you want and it saves directly to your desktop. So handy! (You can replicate this on PC using Ctrl + Print Scrn, however you need to already have the snipping tool open.)

There are many more keyboard shortcuts that can make your life immeasurably easier. Many online tools and programs have their own, so if you find yourself repeating certain actions over and over…it may be time to pause and see if you can find a shortcut.