By Jacqueline Leibler
As we start another year, it’s important to stay up to date on the best apps to use to streamline your processes and improve productivity. To put it bluntly, the more technology can help you cut down on time, the happier you make your clients by beating project timelines, and you make more money as you have more time to do—more! Below are my five favorite apps for saving time and getting precise results.
1. Trello—I ADORE Trello. It is my favorite go-to app for project planning. The free version offers tons of functionality, and you can add “power-ups” that will connect to other apps and make it so easy to track time on various projects and attach working documents to project cards. You can add your client to a specific board and work directly in Trello instead of trying to wade through unending email threads or text messages. You can set due dates and leave comments for each other as well as creating checklists that you can mark off as tasks are completed. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of checking off a to-do as done! At less than $50 a year, Trello is an incredible deal, and you get a free month every time someone signs up with a link you send them.
2. Harvest—The best time tracker I’ve ever used. It allows you to set up multiple clients with an unlimited number of projects and tasks attributed to each. It can be accessed via the web, a desktop app, or an extension added directly to a browser. If you’re anything like me, you might leave timers running after you’ve completed work. Don’t worry! Harvest will send you an email to let you know they’re concerned about your health if you’ve been working for 14 hours straight. You can then adjust your time manually. It easily aggregates your data into precise reports that can break down your time by client, project, and task. Harvest also boasts the ability to send invoices and submit timesheets for approval. Harvest offers a 30-day free trial, but their monthly price of $12 (get a 10% discount if you pay annually) isn’t bad for all the features.
3.Preview App—For VAs that manage social media for their clients, Preview App is a must-have for Instagram posting. We all know you get the best engagement from using carefully researched hashtags, and Preview does all the hard work for you. Though you will still need to create your captions in a notes or text edit app if you want to add spaces, you can easily cut and paste your text into Preview’s caption area, use filters on your images (they also offer a library of stock photos), and schedule Instagram posts within the app. Another helpful feature is the “Repost” option. It allows you to easily find and repost from other accounts (always be sure to give credit to the original account, though!) The free version allows for unlimited posting, but limits your filter packs and gives you basic analytics. If you upgrade to the Pro version, for just $7.99 a month it unlocks its entire filter pack, advanced analytics and hashtag analytics. It’s a lotta bang for your buck.
4. Canva—If you create social media posts, Canva is a great tool for creating images if you don’t want to spend hours in Photoshop. They offer templates specifically sized for various social media platforms, and free stock backgrounds to create eye-catching social media posts, email headers, and blog banners to name a few. All of this is available in Canva’s free version, and for just $12.95 a month you can access more stock imagery, their “magic resize” function, and create images with transparent backgrounds. I have been using Canva almost exclusively for over a year now, and my social media posts have never been more engaging.
5. Google Drive–I know this is a serious “duh” but I’ve been using Google Sheets and Docs almost exclusively for the past year and I’m starting to like them more than Microsoft Office. It’s much more intuitive and user-friendly (in my opinion) than Word/Excel and the best part is the ease of collaboration. Almost everyone has a gmail account these days, and Drive makes it a breeze to share docs and sheets with your clients and edit, comment, and save your work in the blink of an eye. No more tracking changes and trying to find the latest version of a document. An added bonus is the version history stored directly in Drive. If you accidentally edit and save a template you can create a new document and then revert the template back to its earliest version. Voila! Drive comes with a GSuite account, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to collaborate with remote workers.
While there are so many helpful apps I use on a daily basis, these five have become necessary to my business and inherent in getting the job done right. While quantity can be important, quality is what will set you apart from everyone else. I hope you have a happy new year, and a prosperous 2019!