Anyone who knows me well will probably say I'm one of the most organized people they know. Blame it on my control freak, Type-A tendencies, but I like to have a plan and I can't stand when I feel like things are all over the place. So when I started working with an assistant in September 2017, I felt chaotic. I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know how to communicate her daily tasks to her, and it was stressful for both of us.
A student in my BBB course reached out to me that she had made a course to help me organize my biz with a free program called Trello, and at first I was like "nah, I'm already organized, but thanks!", and then I remembered that I had an assistant that could go through the course for me and report back if it was something worth incorporating. Well the joke was on me, because this course and program changed my life. No joke, I now use it for everything!
This course has been so amazing that I couldn't not share it with you, so I invited the creator of the course, Andrea Nordling, to write up a little something something on how she's used Trello to simplify her life and biz so that she can focus on actual income-producing activities (instead of all the busy work that doesn't get you anywhere!).
Without further ado, the marvellous Andrea!
How I used to run my biz
Before the major 2017 business shakedown, as we’ll now refer to it, I thought I was pretty organized and efficient. I was running an online nutrition business with 1:1 clients while creating online courses and programs and blogging regularly. I was getting in the groove of this whole online business realm ... and it was going pretty well.
Yes, I was busy, but I felt like I was keeping up with my to-do list.
I had my digital arsenal loaded with resources and spent all my time (so it seemed) working at my desk, so obviously I was doing this whole ‘online entrepreneur thing’ just right.
- GOOGLE DRIVE: I had all my blog drafts, client protocols and records, course outlines, promotional graphics and social media editorial calendar running in about 34,000 different Google Drive folders and documents. They were categorized and organized (kind of) but there were just so many different files that it was easy for things to get lost. And let’s just be clear that no one else on the planet would understand the rhyme or reason for where my shit was located if they needed to try to find it.
- DROPBOX: Same thing in Dropbox. Thanks for making my life easier (slash harder) because “WHERE IS THAT FILE???” was a constant thought.
- EMAIL: My inbox was the main form of communication between my clients and business contacts, so it was overflowing with important dates, reminders, and conversations. I knew I was really getting somewhere in my business because I was spending as much time responding to emails and trying to find the date and times of my upcoming commitments as I was actually working with clients, which filled up every single day. Please note the sarcasm dripping from that last statement.
- TEXT MESSAGES: Let’s keep it interesting by throwing in some text communication from certain clients or business contacts so that FOR SURE it’s anyone’s guess where that important piece of information can be found. Was that in an email? Facebook message? Text message? Let’s take 15 minutes checking each one to find one little message and then accidentally scroll Facebook for 20 minutes as a detour.
- 3 DIFFERENT PLANNERS + CALENDARS: I had the latest-greatest-sexiest monthly and weekly planner to help me stay focused and organized, along with a really interesting large wall calendar system full of color-coded sticky notes. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding. What I had basically created for myself was a very time-consuming multi-step process for inputting deadlines and appointments that immediately had to be crossed off and rescheduled 5 times (because that’s the nature of working with clients) and the resulting frustration that my beautiful planner and calendar was a soiled wreck instead of a beautiful work of OCD art. I know you feel me on that one. #neurotic
- OLD NOTEBOOK: This spiral bound gem was full of my amazing business ideas. It was where I wrote down all of my brilliant plans so that I didn’t forget about them. Great, right? Well, they were pretty easily forgotten buried in an old notebook, but the intention was good.
- TIME MANAGEMENT: I was busy, yes, but really I was spending all my time handling the 911’s of that day and week and not tackling the big projects and tasks that were going to move my business to the next level. Posting on social media and responding to inquiries and clients in my inbox was taking a huge amount of time because I was constantly writing emails from scratch and reinventing the wheel. (Not to mention always feeling like I was forgetting a step in the repetitive things I did over and over again like following up with a client, publishing a blog post, doing my monthly metrics tracking, etc.)
I was getting pretty burned out, to be honest. So, in early 2017 I changed things up in a big way.
How I run my biz now
- EVERYTHING IS SEARCHABLE IN ONE PLACE: All my documents and files are linked and searchable in one place, on my phone or computer, so I don’t spend time sifting through folders trying to locate what I’m looking for. The days of rummaging through Google Drive and Dropbox are behind me, because although I still keep my files on those platforms, I can access them in 2 clicks.
- NO INBOX, NO PROBLEM: Nowadays, all my team communication and client communication is done OUTSIDE of email and is contained specifically inside the task associated with it. This means I no longer have to search through my inbox folders to find an appointment or get myself up to speed on where I last left off with a task.
- WORKFLOWS FOR LIFE: As I write this, I am living a life of luxury (in comparison to a year ago) because all my business processes are set up as copy/paste checklist templates. These checklists can be created in 2 clicks, which means I am never worried about missing a step in publishing a blog post, following up with a client, tracking my monthly metrics, doing monthly accounting, scheduling a Facebook live broadcast, or launching a new product. Do you know how much mental bandwidth it frees up to know that no steps are going to be forgotten or prospective clients or customers fall through the cracks? This has (honestly) been life changing.
- CLIENT MANAGEMENT: I spend less than 10 minutes a week updating my prospect / lead / client / customer database and following up with everyone who needs it. These days, my free client and lead management system is directly connected to my calendar and it’s searchable and sortable by categories that I set up in advance so I know exactly what communication is needed for each person on any given day.
- CALENDAR: There are exactly zero sticky notes cluttering up my office as I write this, and my sexy planner got recycled a long time ago. What I now realize is that paper planners are great for some of us, but they’re not searchable! How are you supposed to remember what page you wrote down the phone number of that person you need to follow up with, or what month you had the best idea for promoting your business so you can go find it and implement it? My new-and-improved calendar is color-coded, searchable on my phone or computer, drag-and-drop, and populates on auto-pilot. Say what?!
- SYSTEMS: Instead of just getting the day to day tasks done for keeping my business afloat month after month, I now have the time (and mental fortitude) to tackle the big stuff. You know, the huge projects and goals that are going to actually take my business to the level that I having been dreaming about since day one (hello, passive-income creating online courses!). As I’m wrapping up 2017 and reflecting on everything that has changed this year, I can see that having dedicated systems in place to automate as much of my business as possible in the background while I focus on the really exciting new endeavors has been the biggest shift.
The best part? I set those systems up one time and continue to enjoy the fruits of that labor month after month.
How did I systemize my business so fast? I’m so glad you asked.
I have learned how to leverage the power of Trello, and I hope you do the same.
Uh...what is Trello? I can literally feel you shaking your head and thinking you can’t possibly undertake yet another system or app in the name of organization and you’re ready to close this blog post right now.
Don’t be afraid. Walk towards the light.
Trello is free. FREE! It is also completely searchable, seamlessly integrates with the other platforms you are already using to run your business, and keeps your entire life BEAUTIFULLY organized with to-die-for graphics and aesthetic totally personalized by you and accessible on your phone and your computer.
Basically, Trello is the prettiest planner you ever used but costs nothing and it won’t get wrecked when you spill coffee on it or it falls into the dreaded backseat of your vehicle where your kids will step their muddy shoes all over it. (purely hypothetical.)
In fact, the way I have successfully ‘hacked’ Trello to turn my frenzied business efforts into streamlined processes has been so effective that I created a short online course to teach my business coaching clients and direct sales biz team members how to do the same thing.
That’s how Take Charge with Trello
The systems I used to streamline my business, which are the exact ones that I provide as copy/paste templates in my Take Charge with Trello online course, which will take less than 2 hours to implement but will free up 5-10 hours of your time each week.
I guarantee it.
In fact, you can get a little preview of this magic by watching me build out my yearly goals and then break them down into monthly sprints and schedule them in my calendar in the video demo linked below. (Seriously! Throw that planner away, already!)
When I started teaching other people on my direct sales business team how I was using Trello to completely streamline my follow up with prospects and customers, they were hooked. The testimonials started pouring in about how much easier running a business is when you can connect all your systems in one place, and I was so happy for all the entrepreneurs that were making more time in their life each week for the fun stuff.
Since many of the students of the Trello course were involved in a direct sales business along with their wellness businesses, it got me wondering if maybe I should teach a few other easy strategies along with my Trello systems to help people grow their network marketing business really fast … without ever spamming their friends and family or feeling icky and salesy. (Hint: You want your prospects to reach out to you, not the other way around!)
Turns out, that’s a pretty popular topic in and of itself.
So, I got to work and packaged up my Build Your Direct Sales Biz Online course with the Take Charge with Trello course as one bundle of organization-and-business-growth-goodness, and called it Your Direct Sales Biz-In-A-Box.
Phew. That’s a lot to keep straight, isn’t it?
- If you want to turn your online business OR your direct sales business into a well-oiled machine for the new year ahead, you absolutey need to learn how to automate and systemize with Trello.
- If you’re ready to get serious about your direct sales business and you want to attract your dream prospects and team members to you like bees to honey, you also need the Build Your Direct Sales Biz Online course.
ABOUT ANDREA NORDLING, NTP
Hi, I'm Andrea! I am a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), die-hard foodie, blogger at AndreaNordling.com, bossy mother of two, athleisure-wear enthusiast, world traveler, amateur fermentista, Type-A perfectionist + neurotic list maker, very outgoing homebody, and sarcastic SOB. I love red wine and red meat (equally) and if you feed me, I'll pretty much love you forever.
Click here to learn more about Andrea and access tons of free resources.
Seriously though, if you feel like you're wasting time everyday on stupid admin tasks that take way longer than they should, check out Andrea's videos and courses above. They are complete and total game-changers.
I was totally skeptical, which is why I gave my assistant the task of doing the course. I didn't want to waste my own time, so I thought I'd pay her to do it instead 😂. Turns out, Trello was one of the best things to happen to my business in the last 2 years, and I wish I had started using it sooner!
I want to know: what do you use to organize your business? A paper planner? All. the apps? Your brain? Is your system working for you? Dish in the comments below!