January 4, 2017

Use Your Brain Less to Simplify Your New Year

Relying on our memories uses up a lot of our precious mental resources. And yet we still constantly make mistakes by forgetting. So why do we waste precious time and energy trying to accomplish something that we don’t do well? We need to figure out how to use our brains less, and still be as (or more!) successful.So now that begs the question – if I’m going to use my brain less, how am I supposed to get anything done? I have projects to keep on top of, deadlines to meet, people to remember and meetings to attend. How will I be able to do all that if I don’t use my brain so much? Is that even possible?

If you have the right tools, the answer is a very loud YES. You can make your life so much easier, simpler and calmer by implementing a few basic tools.

Here are my top 3 recommendations of software tools that I think everyone, especially busy business owners, needs to have:

1.      Spreadsheets. Whether you call it Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, spreadsheets are a really great way of keeping track of information. At the simplest level, you use them just to make lists so that the spreadsheet can remember things instead of your brain. At more sophisticated levels, you’ll use it to control your data entry and make the information you’re collecting meaningful for you (Ex: time tracking, open projects or tasks). If you want to pursue the complicated route, look at the built in filters, data validation columns and pivot tables.

2.      Google’s G-Suite (formerly known as google apps). Your email will now be hosted by google, giving you the professionalism of your own domain name plus the rich features of google mail. If you haven’t tried gmail yet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how intuitive it is. Yes, the baby-boomer generation will have a bit of a learning curve, since anything new usually comes with a price, but it’s well worth it. Aside from email, gmail has an integrated calendar that connects to almost everything, and google drive so you can share files easily and can access your files on the go. (I personally like Dropbox best for file sharing, but that’s another step that you may or may not want to take).

3.      Client Relationship Management (CRM) software. Whether it’s Zoho, InfusionSoft, Hubspot, Base or something else, all your contact information needs to go somewhere and you need to be able to keep track of who you spoke to, when you spoke to them, and when you want to follow up. Try each CRM before you commit – each CRM is different and not all CRMs are good for you. Once you’ve chosen one, that’s where all your contacts and correspondence goes. Remember all those business cards you got from your last networking meeting? Most likely they’ve drowned in a growing pile somewhere. Now think about it – those business cards are precious. Each of them represents someone that you obviously thought was important enough that you held onto their business card. But once their card makes it into that pile, it’s lost. So now you have a solution – a CRM. That’s where you put the information. Yes, you will need to spend some time entering in the information (most CRMs have a business card scanner you can use with your phone), but those few minutes of time has given you a contact that is now meaningful.

I could go on with other useful tips, such as getting a virtual assistant, a bookkeeper and learning productivity techniques – but that’s another step for another blog post (you can refer to this blog post if you want to find out more about delegating). The first and most important step is to empower yourself to take control of your business in a meaningful way and use your vital resources to focus on what you do best.

Take the steps today to make your 2017 a success!
Please share this post with your network to give them the best boost to their new year.

January 4, 2017