Busy witches, this one’s for you!
I’ve said it before: I’m a lazy witch. This means I am always on the lookout for ways I can tweak my process so I can get more done in less time.
This list is the tools I currently use most often to run my witchy business. Note that these are productivity tools, not ritual or magickal tools. (That will be a different post.)
Still, some of these tools are so cool, they’ll feel like magic. And we want to keep it feelin’ magical, right, witches?
So on to the list. Since it’s so lengthy, I have divided it into two parts (saving you time already!) and will share the second half soon. Here we go…!
My 8 Favorite Business Productivity Tools, Part 1. (Currently. When I have new ones, I’ll share them!)
1.) Siri and my iPhone: Yes, I realize an iPhone is a trendy tool for many entrepreneurs these days, yet I easily resisted getting one until just a few months ago. My computers are all Windows-based, I liked my Android phone just fine, and I have a fancy digital camera for taking good photos. Why did I need an overpriced phone…?
Once I bit the bullet and bought an iPhone, I expected to be BLOWN-AWAY by all its easy, creative features. (I mean, c’mon, with that price and all that hype?! Right?) To be honest, I was underwhelmed. There’s very little my iPhone can do that my Android couldn’t and even a few things that I liked better on my Android. And then I met Siri…
Siri has a learning curve (that can be a bit frustrating), but once you figure out how to voice the commands correctly, “she” can be extremely helpful, especially with reminders or notes. When I am rushing around and/or have my hands full, I can just speak, “Hey, Siri, add white candles to my shopping list”, or “Hey, Siri, add tarot cards to my packing list,” and Siri will respond (in the female British voice I chose because it’s So Fancy) “Okay, I’ve added it”. Or sometimes I’ll say, “Hey, Siri, start a timer for 25 minutes” when I’m not in front of my computer and want to use the Pomodoro Technique (more on that below), and she’ll reply, “Roger that, Veela,” (which always makes me giggle) and start the timer.
Occasionally, I admit it, I just use Siri for laughs or to keep myself awake while driving late at night. “Hey, Siri, beatbox?” (Try it! LOL!)
The second area where I feel my iPhone wins is taking photos/videos. Once I loaded the apps I wanted (including Instagram, my email, Etsy, Facebook and so on) and learned my way around the phone, I started using it more and more to take photos and post to social media (which is the main reason I got it). The photos are of higher quality than my old Android, there’s a lot more storage space, and all the apps I use, including Instagram, work fairly easily. (I actually preferred the Android Instagram app because of Dropbox, but more on that process when I talk about Buffer.) It’s handy having them all neatly lined up on my phone’s homepage, rather like a futuristic Command Console. Net result: I’m now posting more consistently to social media and having more fun doing it.
What I didn’t expect when I spent the big bucks on a silly phone was not only the convenience and time-saving features, but the boost in morale it gives me. Using Siri makes me feel like a Brilliant, Successful, Techie Goddess with a fancy British assistant. And that is totally worth the money!
2.) Buffer Social Media Scheduler: In the past I’ve had difficulty posting to social media consistently. (Can you relate?) But the social media superstars always say that the big key to getting more followers is to share regularly.
In an attempt to make this easier, I tried several post management programs, including HootSuite, Postfity, and Crowdfire. None of them felt right. Either they were difficult to figure out, inconveniently glitchy, didn’t cover all the networks I wanted to use, were too expensive, or too automated. I don’t enjoy wading through dozens of loosely related “articles” that some robot found on the web, so I didn’t want to put my followers through that, either. I happen to like writing my own posts and keeping things authentic and personal.
Fortunately, I finally found Buffer. I use the web version on my PC every day and also have the app loaded on my iPhone. It includes all the social networks I use (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest, which I haven’t tried out in Buffer yet). The free version will let you test it out (as long as you’d like) with up to 5 social networks (one account each) and ten scheduled posts (at a time). The next package up is only $10 per month and allows for 10 social accounts and up to 100 scheduled posts!
I now spend around 25 minutes max (Pomodoro Technique, see below) setting up a day’s posts, usually the night before. (This time does not include actually creating the custom graphics, but more on that in #4.) I schedule four daily posts for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook on Monday through Friday and two each for Saturdays and Sundays. All this can be done from one dashboard page: I write the Instagram post first, copy and paste my emojis and hashtags from a Word file I’ve saved (editing them for each post as needed), and then click on the Facebook and Twitter icons to carry that post over (trimming as needed for Twitter). Easy-peasy!
The Instagram posting is a trifle awkward because, well, it’s Instagram, FFS. So if you’re like me and you create some of your Instagram images on your computer, the process goes like this: make and save image (in Photoshop or Canva); go to Buffer on your computer and setup future post including that image; at the time you’ve set, the Buffer app on your phone pops up with a reminder that you have an Instagram post waiting; choose “open in Instagram” and the photo you’ve chosen will appear in Instagram (***this is HUGE because the iPhone version of Instagram does not interface with Dropbox the way the Android app does, so using Buffer saves you having to transfer the image from your computer to Dropbox to your phone***); then you add a filter or add more images (you can do this!) or click “next”; then you click in the text area and will have the option to “paste” whatever you’ve typed out on your pc for that post, including those 30 hashtags (yay! you don’t have to type them all out in your phone’s tiny keyboard!); then click “share” and your post goes live!
Boom! You’re a Social Media GOD. (Thanks, Buffer!)
3.) The Google Timer and The Pomodoro Technique: This is cool! Go to Google right now and type “timer” into the search bar. Google will bring up a free timer you can use and program for any length of time, that will beep when it runs out.
I often use The Pomodoro Technique to push myself through tough writing projects or, honestly, doing anything I really don’t feel like doing. Basically, the technique is this: set a timer for 25 minutes; work ALL OUT during that time, just GET IT DONE; when the timer goes off, give yourself a five minute break; reset the timer and repeat. Try to get most of your projects (or chunks) done in one 25-minute period each. (For example, writing one chapter or blog post.)
You can read more about it here: The Pomodoro Technique.
4.) Canva for image creation: I create most of my custom social media graphics at canva.com, especially the ones with quotes or funny sayings. First, I make the background images or decorative flourishes (such as my magic wand or witch hat) in Photoshop and then I upload them to Canva. (Useful feature! Canva will save all your uploaded images!) Now that I’ve setup and saved multiple templates that all match my site’s colors and style, all I have to do to create something new is edit the text, save the changes, and download the new finished image to my pc.
Even better, Canva has tons of free design templates for everything from social media posts to Facebook page headers and Kindle book covers, and they can be easily customized, so I don’t have to come up with a layout on my own. Unless you’re a professional graphic artist, your primary job is to get your message out, not to spend hours designing pretty pictures for your Instagram page. So let Canva make that process easier and faster.
Note, if you’re already used to PicMonkey, I don’t recommend that you waste any time learning a new way to do what you’re already doing. However, if you’re not using either of these sites/apps to create your social media graphics, you might be pleasantly surprised. Try it for free at canva.com. (Follow-up: I’ve added a paid subscription to Canva which enabled the feature of uploading my own fonts! This is super cool!)
That’s it for Part 1 of this list. You can find Part 2 here. ♥
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