This year, in my bid to be more organised and productive, I have embraced a number of planning tools.
I’ve never been one to rely on much, other than a notebook and my own noggin when it comes to planning, so this has been a big change for me. But you can’t really become more organised without embracing change, can you?
And while I’m still finding my feet with some of these tools, I’ve already found a marked improvement in my focus and productivity in the short time I’ve been using them. Who knows what I’ll be able to achieve once I truly hit my stride with them?
So I wanted to share them with you too.
Most of these very awesome tools will not be new to you but I always find it useful to see how other people use them. But one of them in particular may actually surprise you…
5 Awesome Planning Tools I Use Every Day
As I’ve shared before, my life now sits on my Google Calendar. And having everything recorded and accounted for, has definitely gone a long way to reducing my stress levels and allowing me to better prioritise my time. I really now rely on it as my primary calendar and organisational tool and have found it has many benefits:
- it’s free
- it’s powerful
- it allows you to set notification & email reminders
- you can overlay several calendars so you never miss a thing (or double book yourself)
- it’s compatible with many other programs so adding events is easy peasy
- you can have events automatically added from your gmail account plus you can sync to your phone
- you can easily share your calendar with others.
I’m definitely learning to love my calendar!
I’m still not using Evernote to its full potential, yet this tool has been a revelation to me. I love how I can save documents and webpages to check out later. I can set up lists for future post ideas, tag information so I can easily retrieve it and share my notes and notebooks with others. I most love the fact that it syncs between devices so wherever I am, and whatever device I’m on, I can use Evernote to save and access my treasure chest of ideas. It’s a seriously cool tool.
Included in my Google Calendar, I’ve become a massive convert to the notion of having an editorial calendar. At the end of each month I map out the posts I plan on writing for the following month and mark them down in my Google Calendar. Having post ideas already sorted out before sitting down to actually write them is very empowering. It also allows me to write notes down against each post idea in Evernote so I can include everything I want to say.
Not surprisingly, a little pre-planning has led to a number of positive benefits. I’m wasting less time fluffing about trying to find a post idea. I have been able to set a real strategy now that I can see how my posts fit together as a whole. And Google Calendar is reminding me of what needs to be posted and when. It’s a win/win for a formerly dis-organised soul such as myself!
Although I still reserve the right to change my schedule around if needed 😉
Social Media Tools
I’ve never had a social media strategy before but I’ve needed to develop one to have any chance of reaching my goal of 1000 followers on each channel by the end of the year. Even I know how ambitious that goal is!
Part of my social media strategy is to start using scheduling tools to pre-plan my posts. As I’ve found with setting an editorial calendar to plan out my blog posts, sitting down and planning out my social media shares for the week has been a valuable exercise in ensuring everything I do is in line with my overall goals.
I’m still in the early stages of setting this all up (and I’m not as organised as I want to be just yet) but so far, so good. Tools I’m currently trialling are:
- Latergramme (Instagram). I’m finally trying to ramp up my Instagram usage. I’m using Word Swag to put together awesome images and then scheduling them via Latergramme. The one thing I don’t like is that you still need to manually push the scheduled instagram post (which sort of defeats the purpose a little) but the act of scheduling is helping me refine my instagram strategy. At least I have one now!
- Buffer (Facebook & Twitter). Buffer allows you to pre-set and schedule social media shares. I’m still in the early days of finding my way around this one (as in I’ve only been really using it over this last weekend) but I’m happy with how it seems to work so far. I just need to become more committed to sitting down and finding the time to set a schedule and load them in each week…
- Edgar (Facebook, Twitter & Linked In). I LOVE Edgar but I haven’t been able to move past the free trial as I can’t afford the ongoing subscription fees. But the minute I’m drawing a reliable income, Edgar will be my go-to social scheduling tool. It lets you queue new and evergreen posts, questions and updates and continually shares them for you, automatically, according to your chosen schedule. It’s so easy – I really do recommend it!
As a planning tool? Yep. Starting my day with some form of exercise (usually a walk/jog) helps me find focus for the day. I always find inspiration and new ideas when the endorphins flow. It also helps me to sort out my priorities as being outside helps clarify my thoughts too. Plus I’m getting in some much needed exercise as well. It’s possibly the most vital planning tool I use each day – as long as I note down my musings when I get home!
What awesome planning tools do you use? Now I’m converted to the whole planning caper I’d love to find more tools to try out!