Lani Rosales is a powerhouse businesswoman, who also runs communities and events that help support job seekers in Austin. Lani gets a lot done in her every day as Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius. She has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.
If you’re not familiar with Lani Rosales, you should be. Like all busy women who achieve, Lani uses many digital tools to help her manage the various facets of her business and her life.
At our August Freelance Austin meeting, Lani’s talk, “Squeezing Every Minute Out of Your Day—Productivity Tools to Rock Your Biz,” provided insight on how to make our time work for us.
Time is money, and for freelancers, this is especially true. Every action we take must be to maximize our time, so that we can focus on activities that pay our bills. With this in mind, here are some of the productivity-boosting secrets that Lani shared with us:
Thoughtfully manage your time.
Before Lani told us about her favorite productivity tools, she emphasized that first we need to develop good habits around the way we manage our time. She told everyone about Parkinson’s law which says that our work expands to fill the time we’ve allotted to get it done. To avoid falling into the trap of Parkinson’s law, Lani recommends time blocking (or as other people call it time batching).
In particular, Lani covered the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for 25 minutes and then taking 5 minutes off. She suggested lots of tools, most of which can be used with Google Chrome. One particular tool she likes for timing herself when using the Pomodoro Technique is the Tomato Timer.
Manage attention with email tools.
Many of us find ourselves overwhelmed by email. Most of it is spam or unread newsletters that end up clogging our inboxes. A tool called Unroll.me scans your inbox, creates a list of all your subscription emails, and allows you to automatically unsubscribe from anything you don’t want. Lani also recommends setting limits on when you check your email. Finally, she suggests filtering email so that messages from particular people or companies automatically are diverted to preset folders.
Take the back and forth out of scheduling.
Boomerang, the tool that lets you schedule your emails for later.
Sometimes we’re up in the middle of the night and that’s when we want to take care of business. However we don’t want to create the impression that we’re open for business 24 hours a day. That’s where Boomerang comes in. We can write an email at 4am, but schedule it to be sent at 9am.
Calendly allows people to schedule themselves for meetings.
This tool lets you schedule many different types of meetings including one-on-ones, round-robin, collectives, or groups. It lets you create custom links for every kind of meeting and connects with your other calendars. It also integrates with software applications like Zoom, so someone can schedule a video conference without the usual back-and-forth emails or phone calls. Other integrations allow you to use Calendly to collect payments, manage your contacts, and for many other tasks.
Assistant.to schedules complicated meetings with one email.
This tool is great for scheduling one-on-one meetings. It allows recipients to schedule themselves within pre-approved times on your calendar.
Automation for the win.
IFTTT allows your apps and devices to talk to each other to manage more workflows.
This tool uses conditional logic to help various apps talk to each other. IFTTT stands for “If This Then That,” and you can use it to set up certain circumstances that will trigger a set of actions. This is perfect when there are applications that you use together all the time. For example, you can Tweet your Instagram posts as native Twitter photos, or you can create an event on your iPhone’s calendar with Google Assistant.
Zapier connects software that you use every day.
Use this tool to connect email marketing software, CRMs, spreadsheets, and other possibilities. Automate all your regular workflows with Zapier.
Track your time and get paid.
Lani introduced us to several time-tracking platforms and devices:
- Toggl is a time tracker with powerful reports and it will work across all your devices.
- TSheets time tracker is cloud-based and allows all team members to clock in and out from their smartphones.
- Timeular helps track how you use your time, so that you can eliminate waste andor capture all the time you should be charging for.
- Freshbooks allows you to track your time, invoice clients, accept payments, and keep your books current.
Manage projects and teams.
During this portion of Lani’s presentation, many people in the group also shared their favorite project management tools. Each one has its pros and cons, so check them out to discover which one is best for you:
Save battery life and internet bandwidth.
Tech tools make our lives easier, and they give us the ability to act as a big business when we’re actually just one person. As more and more automation replaces repetitive tasks, the capacity of solopreneur freelancers will increase.
We are lucky that we had Lani Rosales come and share some of her favorite tools with us. Take a look at each of these tools and decide how best you will use them. Integrating more automation into your workflows will open up your billable hours and increase overall productivity.
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