Five Free Tools I Love So Much I Would Pay for Them (but I’m Glad I Don’t Have To!)
I have yet to discover the secret to success, but I do know that being organized helps. When you’re a full-time mom running a full-time (or part-time) business, you have to be productive during your limited window of opportunity to work. That’s easier said than done when you have a thousand ideas running through your head, a million things on your to-do list, and a love-hate relationship with technology.
I’m not exactly an early adopter when it comes to tools and technology. It takes me a while to try something new, and even then, I spend too much time testing and playing with tools I end up abandoning. However, there are several tools that have stood the test of time for me, and I’d like to share them with you.
Here are five of my favorite tools that I use every single day. I love them so much that I would pay for them. But I don‘t have too, because they’re free (yeah!). Your business is probably very different from mine, but I suspect you’ll fall in love with at least one of these tools!
Dropbox: This is the best tool I’ve found for sharing files with clients, team members, and colleagues. When I send files back and forth via email, I can never find the most recent version, and I can’t seem to keep them organized. Dropbox allows you to create shared folders so you can collaborate virtually with anyone you choose. The “drop and drag” functionality makes it easy to use, and the folders help you organize files that you share with others—just as you would on your own computer.
Evernote: This tool is my go-to resource for capturing all my tasks, lists, random thoughts, and fabulous ideas (and the crazy ones, too). Evernote allows you to create lists and notes and put them in folders to organize all the brilliance that comes out of your mind so you don’t lose it. Unlike sticky notes and “to-do” lists, Evernote is a searchable database of all your thoughts—and it syncs between your computer and phone. So, you can easily find a note months or years after you create it simply by searching a keyword. Once you get started with Evernote, you’ll quickly discover you can do so much more than capture notes—you’ll learn to forward emails, attach screenshots, scan documents, share notes, import your Kindle highlights, and bookmark websites…but start with the basics and see how it works for you.
Buffer: If you want a simple free tool to schedule your social media updates, check out Bufferapp.com. Not only does this tool help me save time, but it also allows me to share content across my favorite social media channels at the time of my choosing. Let’s say you are browsing the web and you find the perfect story or video to share with your audience…but you don’t want to share it now, because it’s 3 a.m. and you’re probably the only one awake at the moment. So, you add the story to your queue and Buffer will send it out at a more reasonable time. You can also load a bunch of posts in one sitting and ask Buffer to send it out over the next few weeks.
Canva: When I discovered Canva, I couldn’t believe it was free. Canva is the solution to your problem if you’ve ever spent an entire day trying to design a simple graphic on your own. It’s the easiest, quickest, cheapest way to create a professional looking image you can use on your website and social media. You can also create invitations, flyers, business cards, and more. You will even find premade templates for customizing your header banners on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. What I love most about Canva is the free tutorials—even though it’s a super easy tool, I love having someone show me exactly how to use it. And did I mention it’s free?
Feedly: Overwhelmed trying to keep up with your favorite blogs? At one point, I was following about 50 different blogs—everything from business and marketing to fitness and nutrition to parenting and faith. I was having all of these blog posts delivered via email, cluttering up my inbox every single day. Eventually, I discovered RSS feed readers like Feedly, so I can read all of my blogs in one place and organize them according to categories and topics I create. Now I reserve my email inbox for newsletters and other subscriptions, but I keep the daily blog reading separate.
So, there you have it…my secrets to small success. What’s your favorite tool to help you get organized and save you time in the office?(Note: Some of the links in the above post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small affiliate commission to help offset the costs of running this site. However, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Please know the views and opinions expressed on this blog are solely mine and the content you find here is designed to benefit my readers.)
Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. She empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace through the Christian Mompreneur Mastermind program and her professional Marketing services, which include copywriting, marketing, and strategy consulting and private coaching.