10 Online Tools That Will Save You 10 Hours A Week

It’s natural for you to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. This is especially true if you’re starting a business or side project to earn extra income.

I’m a self-confessing tool & app junkie. I love trying out great new tools to become more productive or automate manual tasks.

In this post I’m sharing 10 best online productivity tools that save me at least 10 hours every week and can do the same for you. I’ve put the time each tool saves me per week next to each one.

1. Atext –SAVES 30 minutes

atext text expander

A text expander, like Atext, allows you to create keyboard shortcuts that automatically expand to common phrases or text. When you type in a shortcut, Atext will replace it with the full text so you don’t have to type it out.

For example, you could create a shortcut that triggers your mailing address any time you type “adr” and hit the spacebar. You can do the same with your email signature, an entire email template, and more. I use shortcuts for names, directions, URLs, email templates, commonly used phrases, and dozens of other things.

Atext is for Mac and it’s only $5 for a lifetime license!

2. Calendly – SAVES 1 hour

calendly scheduling app

Calendly is my personal appointment scheduler. It saves a huge amount of time by eliminating the back and forth when trying to schedule a meeting. Simply set up the type of meeting, duration, and your availability. Then, give the other person a link and they can choose a time. Calendly even notifies them with the phone number to call or any other instructions you want to give.

Calendly has a free and premium version. The free version gives you one meeting type (e.g. 60 minute call).

3. Voicebase – SAVES 1 Hour

voicebase-transcription-platform

I haven’t seen many people talk about this one, but it’s one of my secret weapons. Voicebase saves a TON of time, especially when I want to recall a certain part of a recorded conversation.

Ordinarily you would queue up the recording and search for one small part, which requires a ton of tedious work and time. Voicebase removes that struggle by allowing you to search the transcript by keyword. It creates a machine transcription (which isn’t perfect but works great for searching) and it will show you every instance in the recording where you said that keyword.

4. Alfred – SAVES 30 minutes

alfred productivity

Alfred is my shortcut to everything. If you use a Mac, the free version is amazing for quickly locating anything on your computer. Alfred also allows you to program almost any action on your computer with hotkeys or commands. And unlike the Spotlight search, Alfred remembers your searches and prioritizes what you search for most often.

Here are just a few of the ways you can use Alfred:

  • Saved searches take you directly to any of your Google drive folders
  • Search all of your Evernote notes
  • Change system settings
  • Turn off or restart your computer by typing ‘restart”
  • Search the web

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s so customizable and saves lots of time searching for items on your computer and online.

5. join.me – SAVES 1 hour

join.me-screen-sharing

I hate writing out technical instructions over and over again. Join.me has saved me, and anyone I’ve tried to explain something to, hours of time. The next time you’re on a call and need to give instructions, just send the other person your join.me link. You can quickly share your screen and show them exactly what to do.

Out of all the screen sharing apps, this one is my favorite because it’s easiest for the other person to set up. All they need to do is click the personal link you send them.

6. Dragon Dictate – SAVES 2 hours

dragon dictate voice to text

When you just don’t want to type, Dragon Dictate gives your fingers a rest. Dragon is a voice to text software for Mac and PC. It’s far from perfect but one of the best out there. I use Dragon to write blog posts, compose emails and even write out my to do list for the day.

It’s a little pricey, but don’t pay full price for it — you can often find it up to 50% off.

apple voice to text screenshot

If you don’t want to pay for Dragon, Apple’s built in voice to text lets you record 30 seconds at a time and it’s extremely accurate. If you have the latest OS, hitting fn twice should trigger it. Or, go to settings, dictation and speech, and make sure that dictation is on and you have the right mic selected.

7. Outread/Spreed/Spritz -SAVES 30 minutes

outread-speed-reader

It’s tough to find time to read when you’re busy, and even tougher to read when you are distracted. These apps take the distraction out of reading and speed up the process using 2 types of speed reading techniques:

RSVP (Rapid serial visual presentation) flashes one to four words at a time at the speed you want. Think of it like words on flashcards at a few hundred words per minute. Spritz and Spreed use RSVP.

Guided Reading highlights the words at the speed you choose while dimming out the rest.

Spritz has a bookmarklet that allows you to select any article online and set the speed at which you want to read it.

The Outread app for iPhone is excellent. It offers both methods of speed reading and you can sync it with save-for-later reading apps like Pocket. Which brings us to…

8. Fiverr – 1-3 SAVES hours

fiverr-marketplace

Fiverr is an incredible marketplace that allows you to get almost anything done for just $5.  If you can dream it, there is someone willing to do it for $5 on Fiverr. And if your time is worth more than $5 an hour, this will save you literally hours a week.

Here’s a few things Fiverr can help you with:

There are millions of ways to shave hours off your day for just $5. We use Fiverr several times a week and it saves us hours. If you’re new to outsourcing, the best part about Fiverr is it allows you you to dip your toes in risk-free because of the small investment.

I highly encourage you to try Fiverr at least once to see the potential for freeing up hours a week. Start by looking at your tasks you dislike most, and search for someone to do them on Fiverr!

9. Lastpass – SAVES 1 Hour

lastpass-password-management

Lastpass is my password saving app. It makes it easy to manage all of my passwords, but the thing I love most is the ability to share passwords without the recipient seeing the actual password. Once they have a Lastpass account they can easily use the shared password. Lastpass also allows you to revoke a password if needed, at the end of a project, etc.

Lastpass can autofill password forms when you want it to. If you have more than one password saved for a site, simply select the password and username you want to use. Lastpass has a great free version and the premium version is only $10/ year.

10. Buffer – SAVES 1.5 Hours

buffer social media app

Buffer is one of my favorite social media tools for finding and sharing content. I love the extremely easy to use interface and the ability to set times I want to share content throughout the day.

One perk of Buffer is their mobile app gives suggestions for content to share based on the content you’re already sharing. It’s a great way to find high quality content to share and discover new content.

If you use chrome for your browser, don’t forget to download the Buffer chrome extension which lets you easily schedule and share any blog post you read.

What about you? What are your favorite productivity tools? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Featured image “Driving Car” via Splitshire

 

How To Stay Motivated And Focused When Starting A Side Project To Make Income

A few months ago I started a new side project. I had finally finished some other tasks and decided my next priority would be a Udemy course. The process involved creating and organizing the content, designing the slides, recording the videos, launching the course and marketing it.

My goal: Do it all in one month.

During that time I learned the difference between successful side projects and ”side ideas” that never turn into anything: It really does come down to how you approach them.

Below are three of the biggest strategies I’ve learned from my side projects, my research, and talks with hundreds of people about the key to success. (Did I finish my project on time? Keep reading to find out.)

Clarity Creates Better Priorities

The first thing that helped me stay motivated was clarity. Why did I wanted and NEED to finish this side project? If I didn’t remember exactly why it was important, creating my course would continually be pushed to the bottom of the list.

Create a list of each reason you’re motivated to start your side project. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • I am starting this project so that…
  • I will use the money to put towards…
  • If I don’t start this I am going to feel…
  • This project will help create…
  • In six months this project will look like…

 

Don’t stop there, add as many reasons as you can to motivate yourself during the tough times. Write it down on paper and make several copies of your list. I’ve always found pen and paper much more effective than the computer.

Look at your list every morning, or at least every time you start working on the project. It will help get you fired up — especially when you feel like procrastinating.

Immerse Yourself

When I first started my business, one of my greatest motivators was a new car. I knew I needed enough money to replace my current car when I drove it into the ground (over 200k miles.) It might sound silly, but I really didn’t want to have to take the bus to business meetings!

I knew the car I wanted. I read about it on forums after work, perused reviews, looked for deals, and drove by the dealership on Sundays when no one was there. My business partner at the time had a similar goal, and we were constantly discussing it.

The same idea can be applied to becoming great at anything: Immerse yourself in it. Total immersion creates genuine excitement. When you stop engrossing yourself in what you’re passionate about, you’ll lose sight of why you’re doing it and lose momentum.

When you stop immersing yourself, you also become jaded. You’ll create reasons why you shouldn’t complete the project or why it’s probably wrong. You’ll start to rationalize that the people you are learning from got there in ways you never could.

Don’t lose focus! Here are a few ways to get totally immersed:

  • Find experts you respect the most in your field and follow them to learn everything you can.
  • Subscribe to blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts so you always have something to read or listen to on your topic. If you have extra time between appointments or a long commute, turn on a podcast and make every minute count.
  • Find other people who share the same passions. You can connect in person at events through Meetup.com or online through Facebook groups and forums.
  • Document what you learn so you can track your progress. Journals, blogs and voice notes all work great.

 

Make the Time

How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I just can’t find the time…”? Probably more than you can count. And you’re right — no one can find enough time to do everything they want. The most effective people make time for things that are most important.

You won’t ever be able to find enough time, but you will be able to make it.

When I started this course in December, I gave myself a one month deadline. My business was steadily growing as the holidays approached. It was a terrible time to work on a new project, but the deadline motivated me to trim the fat in my schedule and focus on what was most important.

“Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?”

–  Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

When I took a closer look at my calendar, I noticed there were many small detours (i.e. distractions) in my daily schedule. I was spending 10 to 30 minutes doing things that weren’t even on my to-do list. Upon closer inspection, I realized this was because I had way too many goals.

I decided to put everything but my business and creating the course on hold. While I didn’t finish within a month, I did finish shortly after and created this course months faster than previous ones.

One of my favorite blog posts from Seth Godin is just 10 simple words.

You don’t need more time

…you just need to decide.

Sometimes you need to make a decision more than once. Sometimes you need to make the decision to keep going every day. What decisions do you need to make to make your side project a success?

If don’t have a blog and are ready to start. The first step is a domain name and website. :)

7 Key Steps To Start Blogging For Income

 

desktop pc

You’ve taken the leap and started a blog to make a little extra income. You chose a template, added your bio, and now all you have to do start writing the content, right?

Not exactly.

Before you hit publish on your first post, some important planning needs to take place. If you want your blog to be a long term success it’s time to ask yourself the tough questions. Use this seven point checklist to plan the future of your blog and make the most of every article you publish.

(If you want to jump ahead and get started with your own blog, you can follow complete step by step instructions here: How To Setup A Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less )

1. Define clear goals.

One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is not setting goals. Short and long-term objectives will help keep you motivated when you just don’t want to write.

What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want ad revenue, traffic, social shares or all of the above? Set realistic goals and a time frame in which you can achieve them, starting with one month, six month and one year goals. For example, if your goal is to increase traffic, aim for 50 or 100 visitors the first month. Then, set incremental increases for long-term goals.

2. Decide how much you’ll give in return.

Most people set goals for what they want to achieve, but never give a second thought to what they’re going to give. What are you willing to do to make an extra $100, $1,000 or $2,000 per month from your blog? Is it worth that extra hour of sleep in the morning? That hour of TV at night? Write out exactly what you plan to give to accomplish your goals.

For example, maybe your goal is to commit 1-2 hours every day to writing. Growing that writing muscle is extremely important for maintaining your blog.

Setting aside time for building relationships is another way to give. Spend 30 minutes each day commenting on five other blogs or building relationships through email outreach and social media. This is an easy and measurable way to be sure you’re staying on track.

3. Decide who you’re writing for.

One question you’ll undoubtedly be faced with early on is who are you really writing for — yourself or your audience?

We’ll talk about this more in the near future, but here’s an example of what this decision looks like: You enjoy posting recipes of dinner meals but see your audience clearly enjoys breakfast recipes more. Are you going to respond to what they want, and post more breakfast recipes, or continue posting dinner recipes?

This is really a question of whether your blog is a passion project or a money-making project. If your blog is a passion project, and you want to treat it like a journal, it doesn’t matter what readers want. BUT if you’re treating this as a side business, you have to be willing to listen to your audience.

4. Find your niche.

Once you know who you’re writing for and what you’re hoping to accomplish (I’m going to assume it’s for your audience and to make money), it’s time to decide on your niche.

There are hundreds of new blogs being created every single day. Competition is becoming much more difficult and so is your ability to stand out. When clients ask how how broad to go with their blog, I always tell them it’s better to be good at one thing then average at lots of things. An average blog is not going to get noticed and not going to build a loyal readership. Stick to one niche for now and you can always choose to go a different route later on.

Here are some examples of niches: DIY, recipes, gardening, hair and beauty, social media marketing, travel, etc. If you need more ideas, just check out the Pinterest categories list.

5. Scope out the scene.

To really understand a specific niche, researching the competition and finding where the holes are can be extremely helpful. Evaluating your competition gives insight on how you can stand out and gives you a dose of reality on what’s already out there.

WARNING: this step can turn into a huge time-waster! Set a timer for an hour and only give yourself that much time to do research.

Start with the sources of traffic to your blog. If you’re creating a blog around food or fashion, it will be Pinterest. If the blog is business-focused, it may be LinkedIn, etc. Search for your topic and see who your competitors will be. What are they writing about? What do people like about them? Dislike about them? The comments are a great place to find this information.

Next, use a tool like Buzzsumo to find what content does well in your niche. Just put your competitor’s URL into Buzzsumo and it will give you their most popular posts based on the number of shares.

6. Plan your content categories.

Now it’s time to plan your initial content. No specific posts yet, just the main topics you’ll be writing about. I call these content categories or “buckets” that each of your posts fall into. More than likely they’ll be in the category column of your blog.

Choose 3-5 categories to start with. On one of my blogs I started with marketing, social media, productivity and branding. From there, I added more categories over time.

7. Create a plan to keep yourself motivated.

Yes, it may sound crazy, but I promise it’s the only way to keep going. I’m sure you’ve started a project before and seen how much easier it is to continue with a group vs. working alone. Blogging is no different. Here are a few places you can start.

  • Use http://feedly.com/ to subscribe to blogging and writing blogs. They’ll help you continually improve your blogging and you can get active in the comments to build relationships. Fill your RSS feed with any blogs you enjoy reading that help you improve or inspire you. A great blog to start with is http://www.copyblogger.com/.
  • Join groups that are dedicated to blogging. You can search Facebook groups or just Google blogging groups. There are dozens of blogging communities, forums and groups that exist for the sole purpose of motivating other bloggers.
  • Grab your calendar and set time each day for blogging. If you don’t block the time now, it won’t happen. Make a commitment that you are going to take this seriously.

 

For more reading see: How To Setup A Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less

Featured image by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.