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It’s Like Having Your Own Personal Butler

Christine Gritmon, technology rock star, is our guest editor this week. She offers up some amazing tips for how to simplify, organize, and profit!

With all the different priorities involved in running your business, you need to be as productive as possible with as little effort as possible.

Luckily, there are lots of user-friendly ways to streamline, automate and organize all those things you need to do, exactly the ways you want them done, using simple technology that’s already in the palm of your hand. You don’t even need a computer: your greatest business ally is your smartphone.

Devote a few minutes to adding some basic technology to your business flow and you’ll see firsthand how much easier it makes your life. These simple tips will show you how to take care of the basics so you can get back to business.

1. Stop carrying it all around in your head.
“Your brain is not a storage device,” says Lilli Weisz, digital organizer and owner of Simplified. She’s right; our brains just don’t hold on to things the way we think they do. Experts have long claimed that the number of items we’re capable of holding in our “working,” or short-term, memory is only about 7. But you’ve got way more than 7 things to keep track of at any given time! Apps like Trello and Evernote allow you to jot down ideas as you think of them, organize (and re-organize) your own lists on the go, and can even sync with your email, making your trusty notebook look like it’s slacking on the job.

2. Streamline your online life.
You don’t have time to sit around on your smartphone all day. Programs like HootSuite, Buffer, or SproutSocial don’t just let you schedule posts – they also analyze how well your posts perform and make relevant, data-based suggestions to be sure you’re putting your efforts where they’ll make the most impact. Apps like FlipBoard surf the web on your behalf and deliver articles on just what you’re interested in, letting you stay up-to-date on your industry, your interests, and the world in general. Save interesting articles for later (when you’ll have more time – ha!) with Pocket.

3. Track progress towards your goals.
As the super-productive Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Keep yourself on target – and keep that willpower strong! – with some digital help. Apps like iDoneThis and Lifetick let you list steps towards your goal and then tick them off one by one, which is of course the most satisfying feeling ever. If you’re more of a “big picture” kind of thinker, or a highly visual organizer, turn toGoalscape, Milestone Planner, or Mindmeister to visually map out your path and track your progress. Is your goal simply to break a bad habit? The Pavlok wearable administers a light electric shock when you’re engaging in undesired behavior– anything from nail-biting to overspending (Pavlok can even connect to your bank account, zapping you when you’re about to sap your budget).

4. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
You don’t have to do everything yourself, nor are you limited to the people around you in terms of help. Turn to services like TaskRabbit, Fiverr, or even good old-fashioned Craigslist for cheap, local help with an immediate need. If you need a more official right-hand gal (or guy), but are lacking in space, money, or a decent local employment pool, the rising virtual assistant trend may be the right fit for you. There’s even a professional organization, IVAA, dedicated to the virtual assistant industry! Upwork and Zirtual are two of the most respected virtual assistant agencies, fully staffed with specialized assistants for any need.

5. Take care of yourself, too!
When you are your business, you need to remember to take care of yourself. But unless your mother literally works with you (which she may!), you could probably use a few reminders here and there. Enter smartphones and wearables! Apps like Lark are like personal wellness coaches, customizing activity and meal plans based on your goals and helping you stay on track with them. It seems like everybody has a Fitbit or Jawbone on their wrists nowadays, but did you know those anything-but-analog accessories do more than just count steps? They can offer reminders to move periodically, help you track what you eat, and even monitor your sleep to ensure you’re getting enough of the good stuff. The new Leaf wearable by BellaBeat even incorporates meditation and tracks your menstrual cycle (I bet even your mother doesn’t do all of that!).