Sunday, February 12, 2012

Online Time Management: My Favorite Tool

With any type of home-based business there comes a laundry list of housekeeping tasks which must be performed daily! And I don't mean house cleaning, I make my kids do that! I mean keeping up with emails, tasks, tracking sales, posting on social media sites, doing market research, and reading posts from other bloggers.

It's time consuming! I spend at least an hour a day on housekeeping. It's becoming work to be me! I love it but I need a way to simplify it.

I am an author and a blogger. I discovered two tools which have reduced my housekeeping minutes. One is IGoogle--a free, customizable home page. It pops up when I turn on my computer. This is what I have on my iGoogle page (they aren't all "business related!):
  • RSS feeds from the blogs I follow
  • Current news
  • Weather
  • Google Calendar
  • "To Do" list gadget
  • My email account
  • Local movie listings
  • Hangman game
Each morning I view the posts from my favorite blogs, check my calendar and my "To Do" list at a glance. The iGoogle page organizes my thinking in one spot. I type reminders, appointments, and speaking engagements into my Google calendar and I set it to text me before each events. It also emails my full schedule to me each morning. With this app, at least I know when I've forgotten something--and forgetting things happens less often. 

My next favorite tool is a Firefox add-on called "Morning Coffee."  This add-on is also free and customizable. It appears as a coffee cup icon on my tool bar. When I click it, it opens up all the websites I check each morning at once in different tabs. I added the URL's for my websites when I signed up for the add-on. I can change them at will.

I used to waste precious minutes bringing up the websites I rely on to operate my business one by one. Those days are over! "Morning Coffee" requires the Firefox browser--but that's okay with me. My computer operates faster with Firefox than it did with my OTHER browser--the browser who shall not be named! 

These are the sites I've added to my Morning Coffee add-on:
  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • The Pet Washer product page on Amazon
  • Createspace
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Vertical Response
  • iGoogle
  • Blogger
  • Smashwords. 
I tab between them checking for new reviews, posting, tracking sales, chatting in the KDP community, tweeting, and returning emails. It's an enjoyable time-saver!

Why do I care about these precious minutes? Because every second I spend housekeeping, is a second I'm not writing book two of the Pet Washer Series, editing the YA novel I just finished, speaking to kids about writing or marketing The Pet Washer!

So light up your Firefox, customize your iGoogle, and pour yourself a handy cup of Morning Coffee. I'll see you in cyberspace!

Jennifer Alvarez
author of The Pet Washer
a novel for girls aged 9-12.