by Deborah Hoult – Virtual Assistant

Everyone is short of time, so finding ways to make life that bit easier are always welcome.

Here are 5 quick and easy ways to bring some order into your life:

Email – Gmail really has everything you need. Although you may roll your eyes at the professional image portrayed by an @gmail email address, you can check email from other accounts you own through a Gmail account inbox. Therefore you can have the functionality of the Gmail inbox with any other email address – I have 4 addresses currently coming into my inbox – only one is Gmail. From Gmail you can also choose which email you send from, so the potential from just the one inbox is huge. In addition, you can set up filters and labels onto any incoming emails, for example all emails from Amazon go into a file called Amazon. You then only need to check that file when you have ordered from Amazon. I have set up a label for all the emails from my clients, for example, so I can easily see them and give them priority. There is also the possibility of adding an out of office, and also canned responses, which are useful when you send a similar response out to certain queries. Employees often have to use Outlook, but Gmail is so much better and easier to use for those who have the choice, with the added ease of all your accounts and emails being in one place. By filtering or labelling emails, you can streamline your inbox and make sure that you only spend time attending to the emails that really do require your attention.

Google Calendar – It does what it says on the tin – it is a calendar. For me, the ease of the Google calendar is that you can link it to your Google accounts and it is available (and synchronised) with any devices that also have with your Google account. This ensures that the appointments and reminders that you put into your calendar on your laptop at work, also show up on your phone. You can also share calendars with other people, enabling an assistant to also schedule into your calendar from their devices as well.

Document sharing – Filling up your inbox capacity with giant documents is not cool. Using either Google Drive or Dropbox to share documents is much easier. With Google drive you get 15GB of free storage for photos and documents with the option to share these with others, choosing to give read only, editing and commenting rights. The documents are available across all devices. A free Dropbox account allows for 2GB of free storage which can also be shared across devices (with the relevant app downloaded to the device). Don’t forget that documents can also be shared during Skype calls, removing the need to email documents across prior to calls.

Social media scheduling – No need to log into all your separate account to post, you can do all this through a scheduling tool. Personally, I use Buffer. The free version allows one account for each of the social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+) and provides basic analytics. There are paid plans available for businesses with multiple social media accounts. I also use Hootsuite for monitoring Twitter list. Hootsuite also offers a free option across three social profiles, with paid plans available for those requiring more profiles. I found it a less user friendly for posting, and use it generally to manage my own Twitter lists on a dashboard. I would suggest that new users try both Buffer and Hootsuite, to see if they have any preference to one over the other.

Passwords – Do you have lots of bits of paper with different passwords scribbled on them? Do you have to click on the ‘Forgotten password?’ Link? Or do you use the same password for everything? Well, that could all end if you go along to Lastpass. Lastpass has actually changed my life – it is the only log in I need to remember. Lastpass remembers all your passwords – I have business and personal ones in there. Once you are logged in to Lastpass, you are presented with a list of websites with a saved password, you follow the link and Lastpass fills in the password for you. If you set up a new log-in or change a password, it notices. It has saved me so much time every day. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. And the best thing? It’s free!

So to recap, bring some order into your life by:
• Sorting your inbox
• Synchronising calendars
• Using free storage solutions
• Scheduling social media from one place
• Organising passwords

Of course, I am available to help with any calendar management, email management or social media scheduling. Get in touch with me at info@deborahhoult.com or check out my services page at deborahhoult.com to see how I might be able to help.