Free tools every busy business mum needs to get more done

Business mum at workAre you a busy mum running your own business? When you are trying to balance work around school runs and after school activities, it is important to use your time effectively. For me that means using the tools that allow me to be efficient, without them costing a fortune.

Here is a round-up of my favourite free tools that allow me to maximise my effectiveness:

Tomato Timer

When I worked with a former client who struggled with time management and focus, we explored the Pomodoro technique. I use Pomodoro all the time. So what is it? It’s a time management technique that Francesco Cirillo developed for a more productive approach to work and study. You decide what task you need to do. You set your Pomodoro or timer to 25 minutes. You work in a very focussed way until the timer expires, then you take a short 5 minute break. You keep working in this way, and after four pomodoros, you take a long break of 10 minutes. Read more about the technique here. TomatoTimer is my favourite online Pomodoro timer. It’s simple to use and gives me an alert on my desktop when the 25 minutes is up. I use the 5 minute short break to get up, walk around, stretch out my shoulders, a few squats, do a little dance or have a cup of tea.

Evernote sample Evernote

Evernote is a great online tool that allows you to collect notes, ideas and research. I use it for planning workshops, saving landing or sales pages that I like, notes for my book, potential speakers for my monthly interviews, and so much more. Here’s a snippet of my list of Notebooks in Evernote to give you an idea of how it can be used.

You can use it on your desktop and you can use when you’re away from your regular computer. If you have a desktop computer and a laptop, you can synch notes across different devices. You can clip from the web to save text and image from websites including the full URL; you can set alarms and reminders; you can search your notes and so much more. There’s a payable Premium account option which provides more facilities and more storage space.

TimeTrade

When you work on a time for money basis like me, it’s easy to waste time emailing back & forth to book appointments with clients. There are several free scheduling tools available and my favourite is TimeTrade.

Here’s how it works: you specify how long you want appointments to be; your preferred time slots e.g. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; then TimeTrade gives you a link which you post wherever you need it e.g. on your blog, website, email, Facebook etc.

timetrade image

You can synchronise with your calendar so that the available slots are always up-to-date. The other bonus I have found is that I am more structured in my working day. I now book time in my calendar for blog writing, book editing, admin work etc so that those important tasks don’t get pushed aside.

Click here to see from the client perspective.

Audacity

This is a great tool for recording and editing sound e.g interviews, coaching sessions etc. I’ll be honest, I found it confusing at first. For recordings to have a professional touch, I recommend expert help. My go-to-person on anything to do with audio content is Viv Oyolu. Viv is THE Audio Marketing Expert and really knows her stuff. Tell I sent you.

Hootsuite

I have been on Twitter since 2009 – and I manage more than one Twitter account. Twitter has grown enormously. When I first joined I was responsible for the social media engagement for my employer and for the charity I volunteer for. Occasionally I messed up with Tweets. It could have been incredibly embarrassing. Fortunately there was no harm done. However I realised early on that I needed a tool to allow me to run more than one account without making mistakes. I tried Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. I preferred Hootsuite and that’s where I’ve been ever since.  Hootsuite allows me to schedule tweets, so it is useful even if you only run one Twitter account. You can manage across several social media platforms. It makes it easier to share the social media responsibility with another team member.

Just a few of my favourite free tools to help the busy mum be more effective in her business. What about you? What’s your favourite free tool? Do leave me a comment below.

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