You should probably know, I get claustrophobic…
Like REALLY claustrophic.
… But when it comes to doing things like unsubscribing from HUNDREDS of annoying emails or having to log into a bunch of different accounts to pay bills every month, the idea of being trapped in a small box actually doesn’t sound that bad.
Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.
I’m all about getting a TON of stuff done the easy way…. The secret to that?
Systemizing and automating like a boss.
There’s a huge difference between the two, so let’s chat about that before we get started with HOW to do it.
Systemizing is making things easier by going through a pre-designated process… but the process doesn’t actually do the task for you.
For example, let’s say you use a spreadsheet to make sure that all of your bills are paid. Maybe you like to log into each account, pay the bill and mark it off of your spreadsheet.
Automation is totally set it and forget it.
Using the example above, having autopay set up so that the money comes out of your account every month is automation.
There’s a time and place for both automation and systemization, and it totally depends on the situation and we’re going to get super into how to do both.
1. Managing Your Money
Paying Bills, Tracking Credit + Financial Overview
If you’re anything like me, you like things to look pretty and be super simple so it doesn’t require you to think too hard to make it happen.
I FREAKING LOVE MINT.
You can easily set up and track budgets, see where you’re spending your money, track your credit, get an overview of your finances (and keep track of where you’re spending your money — I spend wayyyyyyyyy too much money on food), you can keep track of your net worth (which factors in everthing from student loans to your home), and even pay your bills quickly in. one. place.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?
(If you pay your bills using one of your connected bank accounts, it’s free but if you pay using a credit card, it’s like $5 per bill).
A picture speaks a thousand words and a video speaks a million, so here’s a million words for you:
Get Cash Back While Shopping Online
If you struggle to save money, say I.
Good, let me make this easy for you.
First things first, do you like shopping online?
Of course you do.
Now what if I told you that you could get cash back everywhere you shopped online?
The Apple Store? Yup.
All of your favorite stores? Yup.
Oh, and every so often they’ll have extra bonuses… Like right now, Samsung is 8% cash back.
I’m more of an Apple girl, but whatttttt.
I recently bought stuff from one of my favorite stores that was 75% off for a holiday sale PLUS they had double cash back which got me an additional 8% back. I basically paid 17% of actual retail price.
With their browser extensions, every time you go to a site, they’ll tell you how much cash back you’re going to get:
Ready to start saving online? eBates is your new bestie.
Automatically Invest Money
There’s so much love AND hate for investing online, but whatever your opinion, I figured I would include the best ones here.
Acorns is awesome because you can set up automatic withdrawals from your accounts to invest OR you can set it up so that your spare change gets invested. For example, let’s say you go grab a drink with a friend and it costs you $10.21, Acorns will round up your purchase and invest the remaining $0.79…. They call it “micro investing” and it’s a super easy way to start being smarter with your money.
When you first register, their super friendly user interface makes it insanely easy to get started:
Invoicing + Accounting
If you’re a small business, solopreneur, creativepreneur, infopreneur, mompreneur or whatever other kind of -preneur, Freshbooks is your new best friend.
Accounting software is notorious for being hard to use, confusing and overwhelming… Freshbooks takes a totally different approach to accounting by simplifying the user interface and making sure the stuff you actually need to know is top of mind.
You can handle everything including invoicing, expenses, time tracking, projects, estimates, payments, reports and yes, there’s an app.
2. Meal Planning + Meal Prep
We all know that we need to eat better (and more consistently)…
That’s like the worst kept secret in the whole wide world.
What works for me might not work for you so I’ve included a few different ways to simplify your eating…
Done For You Prepared Meals
These are the most expensive option but will also save you the most time and money. You won’t need to go to the grocery store, cook or anything else… You just need to reheat and eat.
This is awesome for someone who’s on (or transitioning to) a strict diet or someone who doesn’t have the time to cook or eat, so they’re used to snacking rather than eating actual meals.
Just a tip, they don’t heavily season the food due to taste preference so they advise you to season it on your own. With each of these, you can purchase a meal plan or you can purchase a la carte.
LeanMeals: LeanMeals is the most popular of the group I’ve found. They make it super easy to decide how many portions you want with how many calories and how many days per week. They’re one of the cheaper ones, however they don’t have organic ingredients and they don’t have vegan or vegetarian options.
Fresh n’ Lean: They are known for their high quality ingredients that are natural and organic. They have a regular plant-based menu, a low carb plant-based menu, high protein and paleo menus. You can choose easily choose how many days per week and how many meals per day you want.
Flex Pro Meals: FPM is pretty cool because kids eat free, it gives you the ability to follow their predetermined meal plans, choose lunch and dinner only or build your own with the IIFYM method making this the cheapest option.
You’ve probably heard all of the rage about the companies who send you a box with all of the ingredients and then you follow the instructions to cook.
These are awesome if you actually like to cook but hate shopping and prepping or I’d imagine if you’re a couple who’s looking to eat out less but don’t want to have to shop, cook and everything else. There are literally dozens of companies that do this and even Amazon is looking to get into this field, so some of the most popular are HomeChef, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. They all have their little perks, like SunBasket and Green Chef are organic.
Most of them offer a super discounted deal for the first week, so I highly recommend you try a few to see which one you like the most before committing to one.
3. Grocery + Toiletry Shopping
Oh man, I’m literally in LOVE with Amazon Prime.
Seriously, I think I’m addicted.
In fact, it’s not surprising…
In The Power of Habit (one of my all time favorite books), they did a study on Amazon and found that Prime subscribers spent almost $1500 more PER YEAR than non-Prime subscribers.
Obviously Prime does wonders for Amazon’s bank account. Between that and one-click checkout, Amazon is dangerous.
Butttt that doesn’t make it any less amazing.
If you don’t know about Amazon Fresh and Amazon Subscribe, it’s about to get THAT much better for you…
You know when you’re running low and deodorant and you’re like “I need to get more”, then you forget to stop at the store and then you wake up one day and your deodorant is gone?
Has that happened to you too or is it just me?
(Please don’t leave me hanging here).
Amazon Subscribe & Save makes it super easy to set up your deliveries so that you get your deodorant, conditioner, paper towels, whatever you need on whatever interval you want it.
Here’s an example:
On a different note, depending on where you live, Amazon Fresh and Instacart can make sure you NEVER have to go grocery shopping again because they’ll have groceries delivered right to your door.
4. Make Your Apps Play Nicely Together
I’m probably going to write an entire post about how to make your apps work nicely together, but here’s a quick summary for you.
You know when you have one app that does something REALLY well, but it doesn’t have another feature?
If they integrate, it’s not a big deal… But what happens when they don’t?
For example, my CRM is Contactually (which I’m absolutely in love with).
… But when I’m doing open houses for my real estate business, there isn’t an easy way to have people sign in.
I use an app called Spacio for my open houses and I use Zapier to get them to integrate.
On this site, when someone subscribes to my email list, it adds them to Thrive leads which integrates with ConvertKit but ConvertKit and Contactually don’t integrate, so I use Zapier to get them to integrate.
Zapier integrates over 750 apps that wouldn’t normally integrate… There’s a free plan that allows you to create 5 zaps and you can upgrade to have more if you need it. Here’s a quick snapshot of their most popular zaps.
IFTTT is awesome for setting up automations on your phone… It works with iOS, Android and yes, even Microsoft.
Along the same lines, Apple just bought the Workflow app. My guess is that Apple is going to integrate Workflow into it’s backend operating system, making it easier to get your apps to work together more easily. IFTTT is limited for iOS because Apple is way more strict than Google on what they allow apps to do, so I think Workflow will do a lot of what IFTTT does for Android.
5. Posting To Social Media
My absolute favorite social media scheduling tool is SmarterQueue.
I’ve tried Buffer, HootSuite, MeetEdgar and pretty much every other social media scheduling tool and keep coming back to SmarterQueue.
I really don’t like the user interface of HootSuite because it feels like it was made in the 90’s. I love the simplicity of buffer but it doesn’t recycle posts automatically for you. MeetEdgar got me hooked on post recycling, but I
would’ve had to sell my future first child to afford it…
So meet SmarterQueue.
I LOVEEEE SmarterQueue because it’s affordable and since I’m constantly promoting blogs and interaction threads in our Facebook group, I schedule posts once, it goes through the list and once it gets to the end, it starts over and posts them again.
A lot of people get nervous about having their communities seeing the same posts over and over again but with social media algorithms, only about 2-5% of your community is actually seeing your posts. It takes a lot of time up front to set up the posts so that you have enough to keep your feeds interesting, but once it’s set up, you don’t have to touch it again if you don’t want to… THAT is automation.
If you don’t need post recycling and are fine with regularly creating your posts, Buffer is the way to go.
6. Handling Your Emails
If you’re ANYTHING like me, email is the BANE of your existence.
Unfortunately though, it’s a necessary evil… So you can’t exactly refuse to participate, but you CAN manage it better.
First things first, to get to inbox zero, you need to unsubscribe from all of those annoying email lists. If you’re on one of the major email service providers like Google, Yahoo, Outlook or AOL, Unroll.Me is about to be your new best friend.
This is going to take FOREVER to do at first, but I promise it’s SO worth it.
When you register, it’s going to load Unroll.Me with all of your email subscriptions….
You are going to be BLOWN AWAY by how many subscriptions you’re actually on.
They have three different options: keep in inbox, add to rollup or unsubscribe.
If you keep it in your inbox, that means emails from that service is going to continue going to your inbox. If you add it to the rollup, it’ll be sent as a daily digest with all of the other “rolled up” emails. If you unsubscribe, it’ll miss your inbox completely and go straight to junk.
When I started using Unroll.Me, I was getting a few hundred emails a day… Now, I only get the emails that I actually want. It makes email WAY less overwhelming.
For perspective, I’ve used Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from over 2000 email subscriptions. TWO-FREAKING-THOUSAND. I think it took me about an hour or two to sit there and unsubscribe from all of them but you know what? That hour or two it took me to unsubscribe has literally saved me probably 100x that amount of time and frustration.
Following-Up and Keeping In Touch
As mentioned earlier, my all time favorite CRM is Contactually.
It’s easy to use, pretty and INSANELY powerful.
Like many of the other apps, it’s going to take you awhile to set up, but once you’re up and running, it makes handling your people a breeze.
Contactually has “buckets” which are groups of contacts that you can decide how frequently you want to follow-up with. Once you’ve set up your buckets, you’ll start to get reminders of who to follow-up with so that you can stay in touch with your people.
Taking that a step further, you can set up templated follow-ups and follow-up programs so that you don’t have to think about what you’ll say to them.
Thinking is the enemy of action, so systems like this make it INFINITELY easier to keep in touch.
Even if you don’t use the same follow-up email every time, having a starting point will make your life easier.
Their follow-up reminders are my favorite part of the system, but they have a bunch of other features that I really like too. For example, they have pipelines that help you visualize your upcoming business, they automatically pull your email history so you can see when you last emailed someone (or they emailed you) and a bunch of other stuff.
On the dashboard, your scheduled tasks will also show up, but I’ve narrowed down based on JUST follow-up reminders so you can see what they look like. I love Contactually because of how simple AND powerful it is:
Send and Receive Email On Your Schedule
You know when you send an email and expect a response, but like two weeks later, you’re like “oh crap, I forgot to follow-up about that?”
What if that NEVER happened again?
This little beast is awesome because you can schedule when to send an email, clean up your inbox by removing an email until you need it and even set a reminder to follow-up on a specific email.
The only drawback is that it only works in gmail.
The same company came out with Inbox Pause and Respondable which are also incredible tools to keep you in control of your inbox.
Here’s a sample of how it works:
7. Proofreading + Editing
Of every part of leading MEB, my absolute LEAST favorite is proofreading and editing.
I’d rather listen to a thousand nails on chalkboards than have to sit here and reread every email newsletter or blog post that I write or to have to edit every video for the Empire Builder Academy… and that’s not the slightest exaggeration.
Now, I’m fortunate enough to have someone to edit for me so I don’t have to do it anymore, but when I was still doing it, Grammarly was the only way I could possibly manage it.
Grammarly is awesome because it’s like spellcheck on steroids.
It doesn’t just check spelling, it also checks grammar and makes sure that your text is actually readable.
It’s a free extension for Safari or Chrome.
8. Scheduling Appointments
You know when you’re going back and forth with someone in email or text trying to figure out a time to meet?
What if you NEVER had to do that again?
Well, my friend, today is that day.
Calendly is awesome because you literally send the person a link, it syncs with your calendar and they can pick whatever time works for them.
You can even set it up so that it sends them reminders before the event so they don’t end up cancelling or forgetting.
It’s literally the only way that I can network as much as I do.
The interface is super simple… When you send them the link, they get to pick what day and time works best for them, plus you can ask questions or remind them of other stuff to bring to your meeting.
9. House Cleaning + Errands
Even if every other area of your life is in order, if your house is still a disaster, you’re not going to feel like your life is in order.
Sometimes, you just need help.
They both do a lot of the same things, but their list of services is comprehensive.
They cover everything from organizing your closet to mounting a TV, cleaning your house or picking up your dry cleaning.
Even superheroes have help (if you’ve seen the Flash or Arrow on Netflix, you know exactly what I’m talking about)… Take the help when you need it.
Even if it’s going to cost you, the question is how much is your time worth?
Chances are, it’s cheaper to hire someone to do it for you than to do it for yourself.
In closing, most of these will help you get your life in order, but you’re still going to have to do some maintenance to keep all of your systems running. I highly recommend that you set some time on Sunday evenings (or
whatever evening of the week you prefer) to go through and handle all of this. If you’re still overwhelmed by this concept of keeping everything together, this article might help you: