Getting Organised Using Free Online Tools and AppsOct 30, 2023
Life as a busy business mum can often feel like a juggling act. You're managing your business, household chores, and taking care of the family—all while trying to keep your sanity intact. Making use of some simple tools can help you to stay organised and streamline your workflow.
Here are a few of the free online tools and apps I use in my business and home life to help my days.
If you're looking for a central hub to manage your life and business, Notion is your go-to platform. Think of it as your digital headquarters, where you can create to-do lists, set goals, manage projects, and even plan your family vacations.
While I have not moved all my projects over to Notion yet, I have been using is for the last 6 months for my content planning. For me, it is like combining my love of spreadsheets with a good Kanban board and a calendar all at once. I love the custom views that I can create and the filtering of data.
This has allowed me to create a simple system to plan out my monthly content. I have also been able to create templates to integrate my SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for blog posts, emails, reels etc.
My content can be planned with ease weeks ahead of time.
And it has a mobile app which allows me to add to it on the run or copy and paste into reels when I need it on my phone.
While there are paid plans, I am still utilising the free one. The paid plan does have the added benefit of AI and higher file storage though.
Asana is your personal taskmaster. It's perfect for breaking down big projects into manageable steps, setting deadlines, and ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
I use Asana and have it linked into my Google calendar. This gives me a snapshot of my daily planned tasks while in my Google calendar for other things and helps me to plan other commitments.
Asana for me is my project management tool. I use it to break my projects down and schedule them allowing me to get a feel for the time it may take and whether it is a realistic timeframe. I have a business overview allowing all projects to feed into one calendar overview. It is also an easy tool for me to plan out what I call my “Current Sprint” each month (my next 4 weeks ahead).
While there is a paid plan, I am still using the free plan. The paid plan doesn’t allow more customisation, automation and rules.
Google Photos is one of my favourite apps! While it is a free app with any Gmail, I recently have outgrown my storage limit and moved to a paid plan. (Still super cheap!)
I use Google Photos to sync the photos on my phone, desktop, iPad and MacBook. My husband’s photos now even sync to my Google Photos to save the ones in our travels.
Google Photos allows my photos to be accessed on all devices and not worry about losing any photos due to a lost or damaged device.
It helps me to find photos of myself for content, or of a specific thing or time or place. While you can create folders within Google Photos, I have mostly taken the time to put things like special events and trips. You can easily use the Google Photos search for screenshots and videos which is the other main thing I search for.
If you choose to create extra folders to help you organise your photos, remember it doesn’t have to be organised in one hit. It can be a gradual process you do.
Whether you're designing social media graphics for your business or creating beautiful family event invitations, Canva is your creative playground.
Canva is great for creating graphics and documents and videos in your business while staying on brand. You can choose from thousands of templates for anything from business cards to birthday cards allowing you to not need to start from a blank screen if designing is not your zone of genius.
You can customize with ease, even if you're not a designer, Canva's user-friendly interface lets you create stunning visuals with drag-and-drop simplicity.
I use Canva in my business for a lot of my social media content, my workbooks and my slides. While I could get by on the free version I have chosen to pay for a plan that gives me access to – Saved branding (colours, font, logo), background removal, and resizing of documents.
Cloud Drives – Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive
Cloud drives are literally my go-to thing when it comes to saving my documents.
I don’t just use one cloud drive but utilise the benefits of Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive and there are reasons behind this.
OneDrive – This is my go-to for most of my business and private documents. I am an Excel and Word lover, so have a M365 subscription which gives me 1TB of space. This is the main place I store my documents.
I use Dropbox to have my downloads folder synced to. You know all those graphics or docs you click download to and they all end up in downloads, and then once every so often you clean them out and delete the unnecessary ones, mine are synced to Dropbox. This means if I do something on my desktop and am later on the road working off my laptop, then I have access to these, but it doesn’t make my organised system messy. I do try to keep it reasonably clean and do a sort once a month.
Google Drive is the place I use to store some of my coach’s material and personal development documents that have been provided in Google Sheets and Docs. (You know when you get a file and it automatically opens in docs or sheets and you have to then ‘save a copy’)I also will use it from time to time for work my coach is reviewing as it allows her access to make changes. Again, like Dropbox, I regularly do a clean-out.
I recommend using cloud drives to ensure your documents are backed up and accessible from any computer.
Google once again, but Outlook and Apple calendars can do the same things.
I have both our personal and my business calendars on Google. My booking system links directly to my Google calendar, and I can block out time I don’t want any appointments in if I am away. I can also see both calendars at once!
I like being able to have extra customised calendars (I call mine a model calendar) that is a basic outline of my weeks. And the memberships I am in I can add their calendar to view training and never miss out on something of interest again.
A couple of my go-to apps for home are:
Grocery List with sync (sometimes called Buy a Pie) – I have used this one for years allowing me to never get to the supermarket while leaving my shopping list on the kitchen bench again! You can easily add and colour code (like green for all the fresh fruit and vegetables). To tick off just tap the line. It will keep your items in a database list for ease next time unless you delete them.
Stocard – Say goodbye to carting a wallet full of store loyalty cards. Add your loyalty cards in to the app and bring up the barcode with ease. It will also give you access to the latest catalogues they have on offer instead of junk mail in the mailbox (or if you are like me living rural we don’t even get them.)
But remember, it's not just about the tools. It's about the transformation they can bring to your life. They can streamline your workflow and save you time not duplicating tasks, looking for lost documents or missing out on things. You'll experience less chaos and more control.
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