It’s the end of the year, which means visions of new sexy planners and calendars and to-do lists are at the forefront of your mind.
Ok, maybe not the forefront, but they're hovering somewhere close.
Because THIS is going to be the year you'll be more organized, make more money, and create more freedom in your life and business.
Am I right?
Of course I am! These are the exact goals I had for myself a year ago.
I know all about the quest for a planner that will organize my life and biz along with the desire for less time spent planning in a planner. #quandry
LET'S GO BACK IN TIME, SHALL WE?
Pre-2017 business shakedown, as we’ll now refer to it, I thought I was pretty organized and efficient.
I had read the 4-Hour Workweek, after all. I knew my shit.
I was operating my online nutrition business with 1:1 clients while creating online courses and programs and blogging regularly. I was getting in the groove of this whole online business deal...and it was going pretty well.
Yes, I was busy, but I felt like I was keeping up with my to-do list.
I spent all my time (so it seemed) working at my desk, so obviously I was doing this whole ‘online entrepreneur thing’ just right.
All my blog drafts, client protocols and records, course outlines, promotional graphics and social media editorial calendar were hanging out in about 34,000 different Google Drive folders and documents. (Can you relate?!)
They were categorized and organized (kind of) but there were just so many different files that it was easy for things to get lost. Let’s just be totally honest that no one else on the planet would understand the rhyme or reason for where my shit was located if they needed to try to find it, either. Hiring an assistant would have been a nightmare with that system.
Same thing in Dropbox. Thanks for making my life easier (slash harder) because “WHERE IS THAT FILE???” was a repeating thought.
My inbox was the main form of communication between my clients and business collaborations, so it was overflowing with important dates, reminders, and conversations.
I knew I was really getting somewhere in my business because I was spending as much time responding to emails and trying to find the date and times of my upcoming commitments as I was actually working with clients. Please note the sarcasm dripping from that last statement.
Let’s keep it interesting by throwing in some text communication from certain clients or business contacts so that FOR SURE it’s anyone’s guess where that important piece of information can be found.
Was that in an email? Facebook message? Text message? Let’s take 15 minutes checking each one to find one little piece of information and then accidentally scroll Facebook for 20 minutes as a detour.
3 DIFFERENT PLANNERS + CALENDARS
I had the latest-greatest-sexiest monthly and weekly planner to help me stay focused and organized, along with a really interesting large wall calendar system full of color-coded sticky notes.
Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.
What I had basically created for myself was a very time-consuming multi-step process for inputting deadlines and appointments that immediately had to be crossed off and rescheduled 5 times (because that’s the nature of working with clients) and the resulting frustration that my beautiful planner and calendar was a soiled wreck instead of a beautiful work of OCD art.
I know you feel me on that one. #neurotic
This spiral bound gem was full of my amazing business ideas. It was where I wrote down all of my brilliant plans so that I didn’t forget about them.
Great, right? Well, they were pretty easily forgotten buried in an old notebook, but the intention was good.
I was busy, yes, but really I was spending all my time handling the 911’s of that day and week and not tackling the big projects and tasks that were going to move my business to the next level.
Posting on social media and responding to inquiries and clients in my inbox was taking a huge amount of time because I was constantly writing emails from scratch and reinventing the wheel. (Not to mention always feeling like I was forgetting a step in the repetitive things I did over and over again like following up with a client, publishing a blog post, doing my monthly metrics tracking, etc.)
I was getting pretty burned out, to be honest.
So, in early 2017, I changed things up in a big way.
HOW I RUN MY BIZ NOW:
EVERYTHING IS SEARCHABLE IN ONE PLACE
All my documents and files are linked and searchable in one place, on my phone or computer, so I don’t spend time sifting through folders trying to locate what I’m looking for.
The days of rummaging through Google Drive and Dropbox are behind me, because although I still keep my files on those platforms, I can access them in 2 clicks with zero time spent trying to remember where they're stored.
NO EMAIL, NO PROBLEM
Nowadays, all my team communication and client communication is done OUTSIDE of email and is contained specifically inside the task associated with it.
This means I no longer have to search through my inbox folders to find an appointment or get myself up to speed on where I last left off with a task.
Wondering how that's even possible? Keep reading....
WORKFLOWS FOR LIFE
As I write this today, I am living a life of luxury (in comparison to a year ago) because all my business processes are set up as copy/paste checklist templates.
These checklists can be copied in 2 clicks, which means I am never worried about missing a step in publishing a blog post, following up with a client, tracking my monthly metrics, doing monthly accounting, scheduling a Facebook live broadcast, or launching a new product.
Do you know how much mental bandwidth it frees up to know that no steps are going to be forgotten or prospective clients or customers fall through the cracks?
This one tweak has (honestly) been life changing.
Even though my client load is FULL, I spend less than 10 minutes a week updating my prospect / lead / client / customer database and following up with everyone who needs it.
These days, my free CRM system is directly connected to my calendar and it’s searchable and sortable by category, name, keyword or date.
Did I mention this system that saves me up to 10 hours each week is free?
There are exactly zero sticky notes cluttering up my office as I write this, and my sexy planner got recycled a long time ago.
What I now realize is that paper planners are great for some of us, but they’re not searchable! How are you supposed to remember what page you wrote down the phone number of that person you need to follow up with, or what month you had the best idea for promoting your business so you can go find it and implement it?
My new-and-improved calendar is color-coded, searchable on my phone or computer, drag-and-drop, and populates on auto-pilot. Say what?!
Instead of just getting the day to day tasks done for keeping my business afloat month after month, I now have the time (and mental fortitude) to tackle the big stuff.
You know, the huge projects and goals that are going to actually take my business to the level that I having been dreaming about since day one.
As I’m wrapping up 2017 and reflecting on everything that has changed this year, I can see that having dedicated systems in place to automate as much of my business as possible in the background while I focus on some really exciting, new projects has been the biggest shift.
THE BEST PART?
I set those systems up one time and continue to enjoy the fruits of that labor month after month.
So, how did I systemize my business so fast?
I’m so glad you asked.
I have learned how to use and abuse the power of Trello, and I hope you'll let me teach you how to do the same.
Uh...what is Trello?
I can actually feel you shaking your head and hear your thoughts as you're saying you can’t possibly undertake yet another system or app in the name of organization and you’re ready to close this blog post right now.
Don’t be afraid. Walk towards the light.
Trello is free. FREE!
It is also completely searchable, seamlessly integrates with the other platforms you are already using to run your business, and keeps your entire life BEAUTIFULLY organized on your phone and your computer, and all of this with to-die-for graphics and aesthetic appeal.
Basically, Trello is the prettiest planner you ever used but costs nothing and it won’t get wrecked when you spill coffee on it or it falls into the dreaded backseat of your vehicle where your kids will step their muddy shoes all over it. (purely hypothetical...?)
In fact, the way I have successfully ‘hacked’ Trello to turn my frenzied and frazzled business efforts into streamlined processes that save me over 10 hours each week has been so effective that I created a short online course to teach my business coaching clients and direct sales biz team members how to do the same thing.
Don't worry, you can have it, too.
The systems I provide as copy/paste templates in the Take Charge with Trello course will take less than 2 hours to implement but will free up 5-10 hours of your time each week.
I guarantee it.
In fact, you can get a little preview of this magic by watching me build out my yearly goals and then break them down into monthly sprints and schedule them in my calendar in the free video demo linked below. (Seriously! Throw that paper planner away, already!)
NOW I'M TEACHING OTHERS HOW TO GET ORGANIZED:
After about 6 months of using Trello to save me oodles of time and get way more shit done on a weekly basis, I started sharing the love.
First I taught my business coaching clients how I was using Trello to completely streamline my follow-up with clients, and they were hooked.
Then I shared a few video demos to my Beautycounter team showing how I keep all my customers and leads organized in 10 min or less a week with no one falling through the cracks.
Let's be clear....I was feeling a little weird about this. I would way rather be an edgy rebel that flies by the seat of her pants than a systematic planner. I really would.
And yet, the jury was in: It's way easier to run a business when you can connect all your systems in one place, and I was so happy for all my course students and team members that were making more time in their life each week for the fun stuff.
Turns out we are in business so that we can live a more fulfilling life OUTSIDE of our businesses...am I right?!