Living an Anywhereist lifestyle can be complicated. Especially if your income is from a location-independent business.
Here are five of my favorite tools for keeping my life and my business organized and on track. Using them helps me reduce stress and leave me more time to actually enjoy my life.
All of them are available for Windows, iOS, and Android so you can use them on your computer, phone, tablet, or any combination of devices.
#1 Trello, for Business and Life
Trello is a visual, kanban-based project management system. Think of it as an organized version of an old-fashioned bulletin board.
Let me translate that into English for you.
It’s visual because you create boards — think of the old-fashioned bulletin board that you would pin notes, reminders, or calendars onto.
Each board includes lists, and you add cards to each list for specific tasks.
It’s kanban style because it’s based on the Japanese system invented by Toyota to track the progress of tasks. As you complete a task, or a step, you move the card out of the to-do list to the in progress or done list.
You can keep it as simple or make it as complex as you want, depending on whether you’re working solo or with a team, and on how you plan your workflow.
I use Trello solo, and I also use team features to manage projects with WordPress clients.
Here’s a sample of a board I created for collaborating with clients on building their WordPress sites.
It’s not just for business, though. I’ve planned trips and moves with Trello. I know people who use it to plan and organize their kids’ birthday parties, vacations, and weekly grocery shopping. You can use it for pretty much anything.
I wrote a pretty good tutorial on getting started with Trello for Wealthy Web Writer, a site I contribute to regularly (and keep track of on Trello).
Trello can handle anything you need in the way of basic to-do lists, and it also lets you plan and prioritize. One thing I’ve recently started doing is using Trello’s label feature to prioritize my tasks.
As we discussed in our podcast episode about time management and stress reduction, it’s important to prioritize tasks as to what is important/unimportant and urgent/not urgent. I’ve created colored labels in Trello which I apply to the cards so I can see at a glance where it fits in that decision matrix.
Here’s the card I created for writing this article – it’s labeled important (because it is!), and urgent, because it has a time deadline. Non-urgent tasks have a yellow label, and unimportant tasks are black.
Why do I even bother making a card for a task that’s not important, you may be wondering. . . Those are perfect for times when I have just a few minutes before an appointment, or at the end of a work session. So when I have that unexpected brief time available, I don’t waste it thinking, “what was it I wanted to take care of?”
CoSchedule started out as an editorial calendar for WordPress, but it’s become so much more!
Not sure what an editorial calendar is? This article explains what it is, and why you need one.
Here’s what today’s CoSchedule includes — this is for the Solo version. If you’re part of a team, you can get even more features!
- All-in-one marketing calendar
- Drag-and-drop social media calendar
- Social message analytics
- Best-time scheduling (it takes the guesswork out of when to send!)
- Social curation chrome extension, making it easy to share what you come across while browsing
- Integrations with other programs
- ReQueue, which automates the repeat sending of social messages on a timetable you determine
- Up to 10 social profiles
In addition to helping you stay on top of projects and tasks within WordPress, CoSchedule can help you write better headlines with their Headline Analyzer tool.
It really helps you keep WordPress and social media organized. The basic CoSchedule Marketing Calendar is free, or you can upgrade to a more robust version that may meet your needs better.
#3 Toggl, to Track Time
Whether you need to bill clients or just track how you’re spending your time, Toggle is intuitive, robust, and free. Or you can upgrade to Pro if you need advanced reporting and scheduling features.
#4 A Good Paper Planner
While I prefer to keep track of my life digitally, I also use a paper planner, but only for work.
The one I’m using is called the Do It All Planner from Orange Circle Studio. It includes monthly calendar pages, as well as two pages per week divided into grids. This works well for me, because I don’t use this to track appointments, so I’m not using it for time of day.
Instead, I have one grid for e-letters I need to write, another for articles, events, podcast episodes, and an “other” category.
In the back are To Do lists and Shopping lists. I don’t think I’ve used either of those. There are also a couple of pages of stickers, which I also haven’t used. In the front are a few pages for jotting down birthdays and anniversaries.
My podcast co-host, Kitty, loves the Passion Planner. Here’s what Kitty has to say about it:
I’ve been using planners since middle school, but this one may be my favorite. It is packed with useful resources, but never looks cluttered by virtue of its excellent design. The Passion Planner is structured well for anyone who needs guidance, but it is also endlessly customizable — and its built-in goal-setting and tracking system is perfect for anyone making big changes in their life.
– Kitty Navias
Co-host of The Anywhereist Podcast
Kitty uses her planner for everyday life as well as business, and I’ll probably try it out next year.
#5 Quickbooks Self Employed, to Track Finances
Especially if you’re running a business, you need an app or software to help you track business expenses and income. It can save you huge amounts of time at tax time, and help you keep your tax bill down by taking advantage of all available deductions.
I’ve been using Quickbooks Self Employed for a long time. It lets me keep all my finances — business and personal — in one place, while keeping them separated for accounting and tax purposes. It syncs to my computer and phone, and I love the mileage tracking feature on the phone app.
Using it lets me minimize the time spent on accounting, leaving me more for doing important things like writing this article. Here’s more about why I like it.
There are lots more tools and apps available to save you time and streamline your business and your life. If you have some personal favorites, share them in the comments. I’d love to know what you’re using.