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Business Tools I Can’t Live Without

A big part of what I love is organization. I’m a believer in an organized space = an organized mind. With this comes the ability to flow with my work. To organize your thoughts and your business life, you need the right tools to assist you with the job. I’m sharing my top 7 favorite tools and how I how I implement them. This is a list that goes deep, not only sharing the tools but also sharing how I use them. #noslack #usefulresources

evernote-logo#1. Evernote
I LOVE Evernote. Its top of my list for products that I will not do without. Evernote is an amazing cloud-based storage program. Its got all my thoughts, inspirations, items I reference, ideas for clients, and more. Evernote is only as good as how you organize it though. There are many theories on how to get the most out of it, but I’ve created my own system of folders and tags that works intuitively with how I think. The program has a super strong search mechanism so finding what you are looking for is rather easy as well.
I love that Evernote works across all my devices – I can save and access things whether on my laptop, my iPad, or in a store on my iPhone (I’ve got a whole recipe folder which really helps when food shopping).
Three other features that make Evernote amazing are 1. the Web Clipper – Its a browser add-on that allows you to “clip” web pages, articles, take screenshots, or bookmark a page. This is killer for when you are reading something and want to reference it later, just clip that helpful article. Bye-bye printing or filing on your hard drive. Want to build a reference folder on a certain subject? The Web Clipper is the perfect tool to help you do that.  2. Evernote allows for PDF document upload. This is huge for me. It puts freebies that I have opted-in for in one place, tagged by subject, and off my computer (those pdf files can be BIG). You’ll need the premium subscription for this feature, but once you start using Evernote the charge for premium ($4/mo.) is more than worth it. and 3. You can record voice-notes. This is the same feature as recording in your iPhone notes,  but because of folders and tagging, your recordings are easier to categorize and find. I use this for when I am out and about and have an idea for a blog post or an idea for a client. I can just talk away and come back to it when I am ready to act!
Another way that I use Evernote is to save all of the nuggets of wisdom I come across in various Facebook Groups. I love scanning groups and reading what people are coming up against in their business. Then reading the solutions group members provide. I copy and paste conversations (in part or whole) into Evernote, then tag and file for reference later.
*Just in – – – It was announced last week that Evernote and Google Drive are now linked. If you are a Google Drive user, you can now access your Google Drive files in Evernote making for a much smoother workflow! Love this direction for Evernote. Building cross platform compatibility is making the app stronger and even more useful for its users.

dropbox-logo#2. Dropbox
Cloud Storage! I use Dropbox daily. On it I’ve got my shared client folders, back ups of my photos, videos I store, backup copies of my website and all my client sites, and lots of graphics that I don’t use everyday. Let’s break it down.
Shared Client Folders – here is where I can communicate with my clients on artwork, ideas, and content. Both the client and I can upload items, make comments, and have everything in one place to reference. No trolling through emails back and forth to see comments on a piece. I love that the comments are basically the sidebar of any open document that you have.
BackUps of my photos – Yes, I too am skeptical of “only in the cloud” for my personal photos so Dropbox is secondary to my external hard-drive as backup photo storage. Its got a cool feature though where it connects directly with any camera or phone  connected to your computer and initiates backup of images. One big caveat… it just dumps the whole upload into a file. I prefer to segment my photo uploads for easier searching. More on that idea here.
Videos I store – Video takes up a huge amount of space on your computer. If I’m making videos for myself or my clients, or if its course videos that I have downloaded and want to access later, I store them on Dropbox. They are always super easy to access, cross platform, and I don’t think twice about how big those files are.
Website BackUps – this is a biggie for me. I store backup copies of my website and all my client websites on Dropbox. In fact, I’ve got a backup program scheduled to run backups of websites and save them to my Dropbox for me. Why is this so important? If your website ever “goes” down, gets hacked, or you accidentally touch something you weren’t supposed to, I can re-install your website to one of these previous versions. Many people make a back up of their site and store it on the same server that their website is hosted on. This is a no-no. If your website gets hacked, you will then have no access to your backup! Also, storing sites on the web servers is actually one way that hackers access your site. It’s like a little door into your server that hackers can open. For me and my clients, using Dropbox in this way is big peace of mind.
Dropbox recently added ‘Dropbox Paper’. It’s a project management application that allows you to work with a team. I’m anticipating this as a game-changer for me and working with web design clients. I’ll be able to share and comment with them in a more streamlined manner.

picmonkey-logo#3. Pic Monkey
When you’ve got to resize an image, make a Facebook cover photo, or want to create a graphic for a blog post, Pic Monkey is a great resource. Yes, there is also newcomer Canva, but since I started before Canva came out, I kept my loyalty to Pic Monkey. You do not have to be a super graphics person to navigate using Pic Monkey – it’s no Photoshop. But what it can do is help you with your online imaging tasks quickly. The #1 thing I use Pic Moneky for: resizing images. Clients send me large files for use on their website/blog/etc and those big files slow things down. I hop on Pic Monkey and reduce the size, save, and get on with my business. Pic Monkey lets you place text on images, create frames, and overlays. There are a bunch of resources for holidays so you can create the coolest dripping blood font Halloween graphic if you need. Speaking of fonts, Pic Monkey provides a solid stable to choose from and allows you to access your own styles (as long as they are on your computer – on Mac—go to Font Book— Add Font). Pic Monkey has a free version that gets you most resources and Pic Monkey Royale is $33/year and gets you every font, design element, etc.
Canva is more robust than Pic Monkey and with the paid subscription ($9.95/mo) allows you to store images, create a brand kit of commonly used colors, etc. This is a bonus as it makes your design work time much quicker, but you’ve really got to graduate into that. Pic Monkey (even free) is a great place to start.

ColorStory-logo#4. ColorStory
It’s an Instagram world! Color story is my favorite photo editing app. ColorStory allows you to edit, adjust, and add filters to your photos on your phone then upload them to your social site of choice. The app has 11 sets of filters and 4 sets of effects in total. You buy only what you like (I’m a gadget girl so I’ve got the whole shebang). Its fun to adjust your image with Curves and add one or more filters (it allows for you to adjust the filter strength too). You can use ColorStory to create your own signature stye to the images you post on social media – save your steps and Repeat. If you are a blogger or just on the go, this is the best collection to have at your fingertips.

UnSplash-Logo#5. Unsplash
Imagery, its the life or death of a brand in our visual, online world. I see so many posts from entrepreneurs asking for free stock resources. It all depends on what your service and brand position is, but my favorite, free stock site is Unsplash www.unspash.com. Their motto: “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos. 10 new photos every 10 days.” You can get lost on this page as the images are so beautiful. I find Unsplash to be best for natural world and landscape photography. These images can be great backdrops for your social media and blog post images that are going to have text placed on top. The fact that Unsplash is continually updating their collection is a bonus. I find myself perusing the new images when their email notification comes in, just because. Real personalization for your imagery comes from taking photos yourself and having professional photos of you taken for your website. Get out from behind the computer, the counter, the cafe and let yourself be seen on ‘film’ (I’m old school when it comes to photography). You are your brand and people love to connect with who is behind a brand. So go, have some pics taken and take some pics yourself and have fun with it.

WebSavers-Logo#6. Websavers
I’ve made the switch to Websavers.ca hosting and am so happy. My website speed improved immediately. Websavers isn’t ‘nickel and diming’ you into a package that provides faster service. All of their packages provide it. They are a Canadian company, eh? But it bodes well for those of us paying with the US dollar, at the time of this writing, the cost is about 30% cheaper. And don’t worry about having your server on Canadian soil, its really a non-issue, but if you prefer, they also maintain servers in Upstate NY close to the border. The guys who run Websavers are attentive and super helpful. I was a little hesitant at first, after being spoiled with 24hour phone customer service, but after my switch I found that these guys really have things covered. Clean website speed – Ah!

Make The Bed – This is less of a biz tool and more of a spirit tool, but none the less it is an important additive to my ‘getting it done attitude’ of my day. I make every bed in my house everyday! Yes, probably a tad OCD for some, but as someone who works from home and walks about the house while working, I love seeing those beds made. There have been studies that show “People who make their beds in the morning are happier and more productive.”
I’m a big believer in cluttered room, desk, whatever = cluttered mind. I love having things in order and making the bed sets the tone for my day and my ordered feeling. Are you a bed maker or a bed messer? If you are the latter, give making the bed for one week straight a try and see how happier you feel and more productive you are.

 

*Some of these are affiliate links. I’ll get a small commission if you click and purchase. It has no bearing on why I’ve chosen them. I actually use all these products and may have become an affiliate because of my love for them.

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