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The digital tools that I swear by

Ahhhhh, technology.

It’s a blessing when you have the right combinations and a curse when you don’t. It’s taken me a fair few years to get this combination working for me but now that I have it, I’d never go back. Having the right combination of tech and systems makes your work day SO much more productive and saves you OODLES of time, energy and money chasing your tail and doing things over and over that you really should be doing once.

There’s a full interview with an efficiency expert right down the bottom of this article, but for now, let me take you through the tech and systems that I work with on a daily basis (and that make my life SO MUCH EASIER).

So what do I use?

Just in case you’re wondering, I’m not an affiliate for any of these products, which means that I’m not making any money by telling you about them – I just believe in them and they’re working wonders for me!

Let’s start with the most important thing, the hardware.

First things first, I’m an Apple girl through and through. Windows kills me.

I had to use it for years when I was in the corporate world but the first chance I had to ditch it and move across, I did it and never looked back.

Most of the tech I use listed below works with either Mac or Windows though, and if it doesn’t, there will be a Windows equivalent that will reveal itself with one search of the Google!

I have a MacBook, (with a large, non-Apple monitor so I can have two large screens to work from), an iPad (lightweight, awesome for meetings and taking notes on the run), and an iPhone (my right hand man-device – don’t know what I’d do without it) and I can’t rave highly enough about them.

They’re always synced, virus free, intuitive and easy to use.

I taught my 65+ year old parents how to use them and after struggling with Windows products for years they’ve taken to them like ducks to water. My dad is now the Google master and Skypes on a regular basis. I tell you. Nothing short of a miracle. (Yes yes, I realise Skype is a Microsoft product, it’s one of the few I actually can deal with!)

Right. Now down to the software that I use on all these devices.

Communications and Staying Organised

  • G Drive and collaborative documents: absolute game-changer for business. Collaborative documents mean that you can all work on the same document, at the same time, from anywhere in the world. There’s automatic version control so you can always go back and see a previous version (without all the duplication and ‘who’s working on which copy now?’ confusion that often comes with teams working on a single document). A single folder for all documents, it’s like having an intranet on the internet so there are no issues with people accessing documents from home. In Google Drive you can make Google Docs (like Microsoft Word Documents), Google Sheets (like Excel Spreadsheets), Google Slides (like PowerPoint Presentations, and Forms (which are online survey/questionnaires that automatically populate answers and can be set up to work like an online quiz or testing platform). Using collaborative documents is definitely the way forward – so flexible, so versatile! You can get the basics on how they all work here: https://support.google.com/a/users/answer/9310248?hl=en
  • Gmail: email and calendar, all in one. It captures all my email addresses so I don’t have to be in and out of different platforms and again, it doesn’t matter what device I’m on, they’re synced across the lot of them. So easy to use, and as I’m a Mac girl, so easy to work with! I’ve recently upgraded to G-Suite, which is saving a lot of headaches with security and deliverability, and little annoying things like when people send me calendar invites to all my different emails. Worth the investment in the long run to get a team of professionals to help you make the switch.
  • Calendly: synced to my gmail calendar and embedded into my website, so so so easy for clients to book meetings with me. No more phone tag or email tennis, I just send them to a page on my website, that automatically syncs to my gmail calendar – so – I never have to worry again about trying to find a spot for a client – they do the finding for me, and always at a time that suits me! The upgraded version of Calendly is awesome as it allows you to have different appointment lengths available, and you can set automatic reminders, ask your clients questions before they book in, the functionality is awesome! Check out my booking page here to see it in action.
  • Zoom: There are many different types of software you can use to connect with people online – SkypeFaceTimeGoogle Hangouts for example – most of these require you to have an account with the software provider, a log in or an app, which makes it harder when you’re dealing with clients or colleagues who aren’t particularly technically savvy. My personal preference is to use Zoom as you can set up meetings and have people join via telephone, audio link or full video call. I use it regularly to host online classes, conference calls and one to one meetings, and love the flexibility it provides in terms of being able to share screens, create ‘break out rooms’, record the call and even remotely access other people’s computers during the call. You do need a subscription for some of the features like calls that last more than 45 minutes, but if this is something you’re doing often and you want a more reliable connection than Skype, I’ve found Zoom to be a much better alternative!
  • Dubsado: for all my invoicing, client notes, reminders, questionnaires, I don’t know what I did without it before! Makes everything automated, really almost quite impossible to forget to do things, and when you do, the system does it for you! Brilliant! There are lots of alternatives on the market these days, and it really does depend on the size of your business and the functionality you need. Talk to users who have some experience on the platform before you make the leap – and make sure they have a similar business to yours and therefore need similar functionality. What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander!
  • Asana: my to do list, on steroids, synced everywhere. I love it. No more email tennis or lost communications. It’s an easy to use project management tool for normal people. Awesome! I have different ‘projects’ like ‘editorial calendar’, ‘to do list’, ‘business planning’, and I have different team members (my web developer, my designer, my digital marketing strategist) invited into the project so that we can share what’s going on in all the various aspects of my business. Every ‘task’ is sortable, you can assign people to it if it’s their responsibility, we can set due dates and archive tasks that are finished. Every task update is emailed too, so I’m always on top of what’s going on with my team – and the thread automatically updates when you ‘reply’ to an email – so all the information is kept in one place – no more trying to find that illusive email! I also helped an NFP Organisation that I am on the committee with migrate over to it – and it has really helped us work together as a team, with our document storage and keeping everyone in the loop regarding all communications. Highly recommended tool for any small-medium sized business! I also use it to store all my tech manuals, blog drafts, client notes and inspirations. Sort of like an old fashioned filing system for ideas I don’t want to lose, and notes that I need to keep on client activities. It’s easily searchable, expandable, and syncs across all my devices so I can access the information wherever I am. Brilliant.

Content Creation

  • Canva: for creating all the graphics you see in my business – all the images with quotes on them, the thank you cards, the banners, the buttons on my home page, graphics in my blog posts, covers for my videos, all made in Canva – it’s brilliant – so easy to use, and so easy to find and tweak old designs – and it’s all web based so impossible to lose anything!
  • Beautiful AI: restrictive, in a really powerful way so you don’t jam too much onto your slides. SImple but very effective!
  •  iPhone 6: to record the video. All the videos on my site have been taken with an iPhone 6, on a tripod – simple!
  • Screenflow: to capture the powerpoint presentations that I embed into my videos.
  • WordPress: to create this website on, which is also the platform for my course.
  • Beaver Builder: the plugin that allows me to create beautiful pages – I struggled with coding for 2 years before my amazing developer showed me this plug in – horrific name, but the functionality is AMAZING – allows me to create forms that link to Mailchimp, or directly to email, change the background of sections of the pages, create columns, all in a drag and drop interface – no need to buy fancy lead page or webinar software – it does it all for yoU! Check out the 4 PILLARS page to see its capabilities – simply gorgeous!
  • YouTube: to host all my videos, and to stream my webinars from.

There are about 5856465 plugins that I use on my website so I won’t go into all of them here but if you’d like to know which ones I use on my site for specific functions, leave a comment in the thread below and I’ll add them in! 🙂

Social Media

Something I’ve been dabbling in for a little while, and have just hired a Digital Marketing Strategist to help me figure out. Currently I’m using:

  • Facebook: for the forums, the communities and the general abundance of support that comes from being in groups of like minded people. Don’t know what I’d do without it! It’s the community forum for my 4 PILLARS Course, and I also have a public community where the 12 Day Challenge takes place on a regular basis called Create Real Change – join us if you feel so called! We’re a community of likeminded change makers who regularly discuss education and training tips and tricks to getting a more engaged and motivated group of learners 🙂
  • YouTube: I have a channel, and it’s where all my videos are hosted.
  • LinkedIn: more for professional referrals, I’m yet to get stuck into the community side of things there.
  • Twitter: I’m a non-tweeter who doesn’t really understand this land of hashtags and @ symbols – it’s my mission this year to understand and start using it more often!
  • Instagram: have only just started…. I’m getting there….

Advice for people starting out

There’s never been more apps, plug ins, software and hardware choices out there – so be gentle on yourself!

Find businesses that operate along the same lines as what the vision for your business is, and reach out! Ask for help! So many of us have had horror stories that we wouldn’t want anyone else to go through – so – ask for advice on which platforms, apps, devices and plugins are the best for your specific requirements.

When all else fails, hire someone who has been where you’re wanting to go – and exploit them and their knowledge – priceless really when compared to wandering around clueless in the sea of digital options that await you!

Any more questions?

Hope this has helped – if you have any other questions about tech that I use, please ask in the comments section below! 🙂

As featured in Digital Ready

Ready to learn about how to ensure efficiency and productivity in your business from a top efficiency expert?

I got together with Christina Hanna Misfud, who is an efficiency expert, and during the interview we talked about several tips and hacks to ensure your productivity is through the roof. Fancy a listen?

The lesson is available here.

It’s located in the FOUNDATIONS Level of the Library, in the Curriculum Development course:

Lesson 2.4 Guest Expert Interview with Christina Hanna Misfud

Click on the above link to be taken directly to the Lesson. If you’re already  a member of the Curriculum Development course, make sure you’re logged in! If you’re not, you’ll be redirected to the page where you can become a member.

2.4 efficiency and digital tools



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12 thoughts on “The digital tools that I swear by”

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing all this amazing info Maria! I’m off to check out Beaver Builder for myself! A drag and drop option for WP is music to the ears of this little graphic designer 😀

    And in the spirit of sharing awesome stuff – I am in the middle of a great course by the girls of Dotti Media which teaches how to use Instagram for business – their website is: http://dottimedia.com/ – definitely worthy of a look see!

    Love your work girl!
    cheers
    Janie x

    Reply
  2. Absolutely brilliant list, Maria.
    .
    So many great suggestions for software AND hardware.
    .
    I have to admit – I’m a Mac girl as well.
    It really does suit my Creative needs perfectly!
    <3
    Pia

    ps
    Congratulations on your Award win. xx

    Reply
    • great question Donna! Just a wordpress site – with the plugin called Beaver Builder (terrible name but amazingly powerful plug in!) to help get it all styled properly so the user experience is easy to follow and easy on the eye! 🙂

      Reply
    • Hi Donna! I have a VA who makes my PDFs look fabulous! 🙂 the power of a designer huh? 🙂 thanks re the Challenge – great to hear! it gets you thinking doesn’t it?!

      Reply

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