Technology challenges are one of the most common laments I hear from mompreneurs in my age bracket. I’ll admit that people of today’s generation seem like they were born with a cell phone in their hands. But even if you’re not fluent, or at least comfortable, with technology, these are some tools that are worth the learning curve to increase your productivity.
Five Tech Tools for the Non-Tech Mompreneur
1. Google has a wonderful suite of tools that range from simple to webmaster skill levels. My favorite basic-level tool is Google Calendar. One of the biggest challenges by far for mompreneurs is keeping a balance between business and household commitments. For some reason, most of the time the kids and hubby expect you to be the center of the wheel and keep everyone in the know. Of course, to be honest, you most likely are the center of the wheel, and Google’s calendar can help you keep everyone’s schedules running smoothly. You can set up multiple calendars, invite the appropriate friends and family members to them, and then have event notifications pushed to your smart phone. I have three calendars that I use on a regular basis: my blog calendar, a family calendar and my personal calendar. I can view all three at the same time or individually by toggling one or two off. My business partner and I have access to the blog calendar, the kids and hubby have access to the family one, and my personal one is my own. (It would drive my family bonkers if they got EVERY notification of all the things I have to do every day!)
How this helps with productivity: Um, I don’t think I have to say too much here. I mean, isn’t meeting with a client, and getting the kids to soccer practice or ballet on time, and remembering a Friday date night with hubby almost equally important in the life of a mompreneur?
2. Google Docs make communicating with others sweet and simple. In Word, create whatever document you would like to share, and then upload it to Google Docs. Alternately, you can compose directly inside Google Docs. Here’s the dream: once you’ve uploaded it, you can share it with whomever you’d like, and when you make updates, they have immediate access to the changes. You can also allow them to make edits, if it’s a group project, and avoid the back-and-forth of updated Word docs (ugh…). And if it’s something you don’t want changed, simply upload/create it as a PDF, and you’re good to go. You can still share, but the recipients will open it as a regular PDF and won’t be able to make edits.
How this helps with productivity: This is especially helpful if you’re responsible for any kind of scheduling for a group. But it also makes communicating with your clients or customers easy peasy. With its almost-unlimited size and pretty high level of security (although nothing’s perfect), it’s a great place for a blogger/writer to store posts, articles, or lead magnets. If you find yourself with a new computer, this also allows you to maintain access to the material you created on the old one.
3. Frustrated when you get distracted online and seem to get nothing done? RescueTime is a system that monitors your behavior, analyzes it from instructions you’ve defined, and then returns a weekly report to you about where you spend your time and how productive you’ve been. For once and for all, you will know where the time goes. And because of that, you will be able to make noticeable changes in your life! You can’t fudge on how you spend your day using this tool, and nobody but you will see this. This is the epitome of the phrase “Knowledge is power.” Use it wisely.
How this helps with productivity: This is a great way to learn about yourself and your online habits. While the tool itself does not increase your productivity, you will learn where your own black holes are, and how to manage wasted time. Prepare to become hyper productive!
4. If you’re a smart phone user, you most certainly want to look into an app-based notepad. I use ColorNote. It’s free to use, and gives you a secure place to jot down things you remember while you’re out and, or things you need to remember when you go out. I have notes on everything from household shopping lists (food and general), to blog post ideas, to things to do on my dates with the kids, to recipes, to tweets, to clothing sizes, to… In the past, I’ve tried to keep up with a notepad, a paper-and-pen planner and have even resorted to the back of receipts to write down something I have to remember to do when I get home or while I’m out. And I don’t really need to tell you what happened to them, right? But I always (or mostly, at least) have my phone.
How this helps with productivity: A quick check at lunchtime and then right after supper keeps me updated. A quick check while I’m out and about reminds me of what to pick up at the store. If it’s something that has to be done that day, title a note with today’s date, or “urgent”. Say “Goodbye!” to losing papers (and your thoughts), and “Hello!” to staying on top of things!
5. Pulling it all together is a wonderful little app called IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That. Now at first glance, this doesn’t quite look like a low-tech solution, but you will love the flexibility and possibilities. I’d encourage you to work through the learning curve! IFTTT uses “recipes” to connect over 350 channels to do almost whatever you need done (but I think they’re still working on making supper and doing the laundry). Let me use a few of mine as examples.
- When I post to Pinterest, IFTTT posts the image to Twitter
- When I share on Instagram, IFTTT pins it to Pinterest for me, and
- When a story on Education appears on NPR, I get a text message
- At 6 am, I get an automatic text with a motivational message to start my day.
How this helps with productivity: This is great for bloggers, authors and small business owners who use social media in their marketing efforts. But there are a bunch of personal and housekeeping channels that are useful, too. After the initial recipe is created, it is maintained in your account even when not it’s not active. From there, it’s a simple toggle to switch them on and off as you need them.
Technology is not going anywhere, ladies, and these tools are really simple and uber-useful for the mompreneur. While nobody expects you to master it all, it is to your advantage to use at least a few of them to help your work flow smoothly as you manage your home and grow our business!
I’m curious — what are your favorite tech tool that is simple to learn and helpful for your productivity?