We are all striving to get more efficient and maximise our most valuable asset: our time. To achieve this we need to be as productive as possible whilst focusing on the things that will move our business forward and automating or delegating the other tasks
To that and I tell my clients they need to do one of the four Ds:
and I’ve added a fifth element to this:
So in this blog, I want to share with you some of the tools that I have experimented with and spotlight the ones that have made an impact for me. This is all about becoming more efficient and automating tasks rather than getting distracted by shiny new objects. Trust me, for everyone one tool I mention here, I tried at least 5 others (!!) and that lead me to want to share this with you. I wasted loads of time trying tools that promised a lot and delivered little - don't make the same mistake!
Stuck for time?
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As well as recording content for my online courses, I have been running more and more webinars and live broadcasts, so here are the tools that have helped me get more slick, speedy and professional.
I have spent ages trying different live broadcast/webinar tools and settled upon using live webinar partly because of its cost but also because of its ever-growing functionality. Today it is my toll of choice for both doing one-to-one coaching sessions over the web as well as group coaching and webinars. You can do both live webinars as well as pre-recorded evergreen webinars. I also want to give an honourable mention Be.live - a great tool if you do Facebook lives.
I love Loom because it saves me so much time. On a daily basis I have clients asking me questions or ask me to review documents (I never want my clients to be stuck so encourage this) and prior to using Loom I would spend ages crafting an email response. Now I simply open their email or document, turn on Loom and review their document in real time on camera and send them the Loom video in response. I estimate this is making me around 50% more efficient when it comes to responding to client's emails.
I use Vimeo for all my private videos for my courses and YouTube for my public videos. The advantage Vimeo has for me is how you can control what the user sees and embed calls to actions etc. Vimeo also offers higher quality video. It enables you to remove all their branding and offers more features and customisation opportunities (such as password protection and analytics).
and other video equipment
Investment of £200
I've tried various methods for recording videos including me just rambling and then spending a great deal of time editing the videos. I have tried using prompts to keep me on track and most recently I invested in buying an autocue from Amazon for about £160 in conjunction with a free app on my iPad (telepromter). Let me tell you that this has revolutionised the way I shoot videos because now I can record them much more rapidly and spend way less time in the editing process.
If you are going to shoot videos (which I think is a great way of engaging with your audience), you need to remove as many barriers as possible that stop you getting started, so I want to tell you that you don't need an expensive camera nor an expensive microphone. I simply use a tripod with my iPhone, attached to a RODE microphone (about £45). To ensure decent video quality I use a backdrop and two lights (purchased from Amazon for about £100 in total).
Design and layout tools
We all need to make sure our output is professional yet we don't want to be spending tons or money using designers all the time.
Here are a few of my favourite tools to solve this problem.
This is great for creating social media images, eBook covers and other graphics. It is really simple to use and saves me a ton of time when I start with one of their predesigned templates and image sizes. It is easy to change images and save docs as templates to reuse in the future.
This is a really neat tool that expedites the creation of eBooks. Let me explain by sharing with you what I do each month. Each month I write 2 long blog posts on one topic. I then use Designrr to create an e-book from the two blog posts so that readers can download and read the blog as an e-book, at their leisure. Designrr makes it really easy to do this - you simply type in the URL of the blogs, pick a template and import the blogs into that template which creates a rough design that you then can edit to finesse.
This makes the process of creating an e-book really rapid and very simple, and you don't need any design skills to create a professional-looking e-book in probably half an hour.
This is my favourite tool and I really should get commission for this since I recommend it all the time. If your website is built on WordPress and you want to be able to easily make changes to your site as well as creating a site that is focused on lead generation (as all websites should be) then ThriveArchitect is the tool for you!
It's a WYSIWYG builder that sits on top of WordPress and makes it super easy to create new landing pages, easy to connect to your email marketing system and do other clever things such as A/B testing headlines, creating demand and scarcity by using countdown timers, creating quizzes and so much more. This is definitely one of the more affordable tools in this category. I am a Thrive Themes member and I pay about £175 a year for all the tools and support and all upgrades. This is a fraction of the cost compared with other website building software.
I have used a range of email marketing automation tools over the years including MailChimp, MadMimi and ActiveCampaign but in the end settled upon ConvertKit because its functionality meets with my needs, it is more cost effective and it’s easy to set up automations (think sales funnels) and it integrates well with other systems I use such as ThriveArchitect, Teachable and so on.
So I am all about time-saving. In fact whilst this blog is about my favourite tools, it's really all about using timesaving and efficiency tools and none are better than saving you time than DuxSoup (stupid name, good tool).
DuxSoup is a chrome extension that enables you to automate some aspects of LinkedIn engagement. So for example, you can send personalised connection requests to a targeted audience or you can send more detailed personalised messages to 1st connections. So I typically use it to find new ideal connections and also to let my audience know when I have some interesting things happening such as this blog being published or a new webinar. I think that DuxSoup saves me probably 4 hours of admin work per week.
Talking of LinkedIn, I also use the upgrade to Sales navigator because I can drill down my search in more detail and create lists and 'tag' contacts.
When you find a contact in LinkedIn but there is no email or phone number in that contact's profile then RocketReach is the tool to use. It is free and will find someone's email address if that is at all possible. Searching for the right lead doesn't have to feel like rocket science. RocketReach Advanced Search makes it easy to find the right people. Select from dozens of search criteria to narrow your search, and then lookup personal emails, professional emails and direct dial phone numbers for your matches.
Continuing the theme of trying to find a contact's email address, my next 'Go To' tool is Hunter.io. You can waste a ton of time trying to find contact details but instead Hunter.io should be your first port of call.
Hunter lets you find email addresses in seconds and connect with the people that matter for your business. You simply enter a domain name (e.g. www.dacostacoaching.co.uk) and it will identify all the contacts who work for that organisation. Hunter claims to have 200+ million email addresses indexed, so there is a good chance you will find what you are looking for.
With the free version of Hunter you get 50 searches per month.
$49 / month (after a free trial)
I have been using AeroLeads for the last two years and it's a great tools for researching contact info & lead generation. Just with one click, you can get an email address from any website! It comes with a Google Chrome and Firefox extension as well, which makes it easier to do the tasks. I could easily prepare the reports having the detailed analytics and statistics. It can also integrate with CRM software like Salesforce, Zoho etc. You can verify the emails and clean up the list within few minutes. Thus, it’s an important tool for digital marketing.
Planning and organisation tools
I love Google Drive and have slowly moved all my client work from my own drive to Google. This has the huge advantage of easily being able to share docs (you can quickly invite others to view, download, and collaborate on all the files you want–no email attachment needed.) and ensure that both you and your clients are collaborating on the same version of the document. You can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos, and more. A and of course you can access these docs anywhere, so wherever you go, your files follow.
You get 15gb of storage for free.
I am a big proponent of getting super organised and if you have read any of my previous content, you’ll know that I am a fan of morning and evening rituals (thanks to Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus book). In the process of trying to be super organised, I've tried a number of tools to help me manage my to-do lists and most recently I have started using another tool with a stupid name but a good product called Amazing Marvin. I've got a year’s free trial via the AppSumo website (more on that later). Amazing Marvin is a task and to-do list manager. It integrates with my calendar and enables me to create daily and weekly to-do list and cross tasks off as I get them completed (and you know the importance of seeing items ticked off and crossed out as you complete them). I appreciate everyone has their own way of managing their time but give this tool a go!
This one is a game-changer for me. I don't know if you're like me but during the day I open more and more windows and tabs in my browser and then I really struggle to find what I'm looking for so I end up opening yet another tab!! Well thankfully I have found a solution to this and now I am much more in control and have way fewer tabs opened. And that's all thanks to this new chrome browser extension called Toby (another rather stupid name!). This enables me to create a library of all of the tabs that I use frequently and put them into various categories so when I open my chrome browser the first thing I see is the library of tabs frequently visited pages. As I said this is a game-changer for me.
Be careful with this one because there is a danger of shiny new object syndrome coming into play as you browse through all the enticing apps for sale at a significant discount in this online store. Having said that AppSumo is a great site to find really good deals on software tools and apps (I bought LiveWebinar and Be.Live from there). Be careful because not all of the tools are as cheap as they seem because they give you a starting price but you need to buy several 'stacks' of it to get the full functionality that you want - so research carefully and read the reviews.
My Top 5 Favourite Apps
I spent (wasted!) a lot of time researching and playing with tools and apps and I have shared with you my top 15 best productivity and time saving tools - so you don't have to waste time searching the web and trialling 100s of tools to find the ones that really work for you you. If you have any of your favourites that I did not mention, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and please share this article with your colleagues.