All posts by Amanda Abella

The 10 Best Business Calendar Apps of 2020

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No disrespect, but the days of hanging a calendar on the wall or placing one on your desk are probably over. You have a calendar with you 24/7 in your pocket thanks to your smartphone. It’s your smartphone and laptop where you can tap into the best business calendar apps. Now, we have the calendar apps of 2020 to keep us organized.

Unlike those old-school paper calendars, an online calendar allows you to access your calendar from multiple devices. Schedule meetings and appointments from anywhere, set-up reminders, create recurring events, block out time for specific events — all in your hand.

If there’s one catch, however, it’s that there are hundreds of online calendars and apps out there. So, which one should you rely-on? To be fair, the online calendar you’re using should already be pretty solid. Google Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, and Apple Calendar have been used by most people to organize and manage their lives successfully for some time. These may be already on your list of top calendar apps of 2020.

However, it seems like every day there’s some sort of new calendar tool launching. We decided to make your life easier and share with you the ten best calendar apps that are currently available. You can either switch over to a new calendar or use these apps to beef-up your existing online calendar.

Best Business Calendar Apps of 2020

We’ve put together a list of the ten best calendar apps of 2020:

  • Calendar for smart scheduling, calendar and productivity tool integration, meeting transcriptions, and analytics
  • Rooster for the ability to manage your calendar and to-do list simultaneously within one app
  • CloudCal for syncing with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, Trello, Evernote, Eventbrite, and Meetup
  • Vantage Calendar for its clean interface and scrolling, visual calendar
  • Business Calendar 2 for its user-friendly dashboard and task organizer that syncs with Google Tasks 
  • Plan for its potential to improve organization and integration with your email, JIRA, Zendesk, Salesforce, and Github
  • TimeTree for sharing your calendar, tasks, and schedule with others
  • Fantastical 2 for its Apple compatibility, sync capability, natural language processing for smart scheduling
  • aCalendar for its customization features and automatic data import from Google Calendar and Facebook.
  • Trevor for its AI power to create smart scheduling and sharing

1. Calendar

Launched in 2017, Calendar solved one of the biggest headaches surrounding scheduling — it eliminated those back-and-forth emails.

By using a smart scheduling link, you can now share your calendar availability with others. When someone sees an open date that works for them, they chose the date, and it’s automatically added to everyone’s calendar.

The free app can also harness the power of machine learning so that it can make smart meeting suggestions based on your previous calendar date.

With Calendar, you can also quickly create events using natural language and a glimpse at your schedule with an innovative map view. It’s timezone friendly, categorizes projects, and has the ability to send invitation follow-ups — Calendar is ideal for teams.

2. Rooster

This app helps you stay on top of everything because you can manage both your calendar and to-do-list in one app. What makes this app unique is that it comes with a single-view design. That means you can just glance at both at the same exact time. With the QuickCal Keyboard, you can add appointments in just a couple of taps.

Another handy feature is the ability to prioritize your tasks by pinning your most important tasks at the top. You can also receive a summary of your schedule, share your calendar with others, and it works with Apple, Google, and Outlook Calendars, making it one of the best calendar apps of 2020.

3. CloudCal

CloudCal is an Android app that has been around for several years. But, it’s one of the few calendars that can unite all of your calendars in one convenient location, making it one of the top calendar apps of 2020. It syncs with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, Trello, Evernote, Eventbrite, and Meetup. This makes organizing and scheduling your calendar a breeze.

The coolest feature offered by CloudCal is the ‘Magic Circles’ feature. This transforms days of the month into clock faces. This way you can see the hours when you’re busy and free with just a glance.

The app also allows you to customize your day, week, and month views, color-code your calendars, receive reminders and invite contacts to meetings through email.

4. Vantage Calendar

This app is equipped with a clean interface that provides a scrolling, visual calendar. This gives you a birds-eye view of your schedule. If you need more details, you can tap on an event to see more information.

Next to your events is your to-do-list. You can simply drag them over a date to make them appear there. To separate the various areas of your life you create “books.”

Vantage also lets you color-code your calendar, assign due dates to your todos, and iCloud, Google, Exchange, Facebook. You can only download Vantage on iTunes.

5. Business Calendar 2

Business Calendar has been a popular Android app for some time now. And, it’s easy to understand why. The app is user-friendly and was designed specifically with professionals in mind. As such, the app lets you navigate easily between month, week, or day ¾views. The task organizer syncs with Google Tasks, you can add event details with your voice, invite attendees to events, and create notifications for recurring events.

While you can download the app for free, you may want to purchase the Pro version to access all more of the robust features to get the most out of this tool that makes our list of top calendar apps of 2020.

6. Plan

This is a newer app that has a ton of potential since it can be used to organize your life.

With Plan, you can sync all of your tools. This means that instead of bouncing between a variety of apps, you can access your tools. You can use a calendar, email, JIRA, Zendesk, Salesforce, and Github in one platform. Plan states that this can save you and your team around 15 hours per week.

Speaking of teams, with Plan you can use its dashboard to see who’s responsible for certain tasks and when they’re doing it in realtime.

This calendar is optimal for one or two users — and you can use Plan for free. Larger teams will have to opt for the $9/month plan.

7. TimeTree

If you’re looking for an app that allows you to share your calendar, schedule, and tasks with your family or co-workers then TimeTree is arguably your best option.

With TimeTree everyone can put their schedules onto one shared calendar. You can then add and edit events or tasks so that everyone in on the same page. There’s also a communications section where you can add comments and attachments.

Perhaps the coolest feature is that you can share your schedule with anyone — even if they haven’t downloaded the app.

TimeTree offers support for Google, Apple Calendar, and Outlook Calendars. It can be downloaded for free at both the App Store and Google Play. You can also download the app directly to your desktop.

8. Fantastical 2

Fantastical 2 has long been a favorite among Apple users as one of the best calendar apps of 2020. It’s packed with features like the ability to sync schedules with others, create events and reminders quickly with natural language and time zone support, and alerts.

The app can also let you know when it’s time to leave for a meeting. There’s also support for Google, iCloud, Facebook, CalDAV, Exchanged, and iPhone calendar.

A lot of users really dig the “Dayticker” feature because it allows you to quickly see which days have been booked out and what’s available. Another popular feature is the “Today Widget” which allows you to access your schedule without having to open the app.

You can give Fantastical 2 a spin for free for 21 days.

9. aCalendar

Here’s another one of the most popular calendar apps of 2020 made for Android users that’s free to download.

With aCalendar, you can customize the calendar by changing the view or colors as you see fit. It transitions smoothly between day, week, and month view. And, you can use it to assign tasks, invite people to events, and create recurring events.

aCalendar also automatically imports all your data from Google Calendar and Facebook.

10. Trevor AI

Finally, we have one of the many AI chatbots that have been given a human name.

Trevor is pretty much a personal assistant that connects your calendar with your phone’s task list. Doing so can help you manage your time more efficiently. How? Because Trevor can find available time slots for you to complete these tasks automatically.

For example, let’s say that you need to pick up groceries or office supplies. You can tell Trevor what you need to buy and after analyzing your calendar Trevor can text you suggested times that would be best for you to run this errand. When you find a time that you like, text Trevor back and the app will schedule this task into your calendar.

Currently, the Trevor app only integrates with iOS Reminders and Todoist. But, more app integrations are expected to arrive soon.

Download Best Calendar Apps of 2020

Even better is that many of these best calendar apps of 2020 are free or low-cost. With more people working remotely than ever before, it even makes sense to see which best calendar apps of 2020 have team tier pricing to ensure everyone has access to these productivity tools.

 

3 Practices That Will Improve Your Focus

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As an entrepreneur, you likely have multiple things competing for your attention at all times. Between emails, messages, projects and everything else in your life, it can be difficult to stay on task. That’s why it’s important that you find practices that will help improve your focus over time.

The Importance of Focus

I once had a friend say something to me that I will never forget. She said, “If you really wanted to, you could get all your work done for the day in a few hours.” For the most part, she is right. But that’s only if I’m truly focused. But focus isn’t just about getting work done. It’s also about things like focusing on the bigger picture or really listening when someone is speaking. Because let’s face it, we’re all easily distracted these days and it’s hard to do these things if we don’t practice. Fortunately, there are some tools and practices out there that can help you improve your focus so you can get your work done and show up for what matters.

Meditation

I discovered meditation back in 2010 when I was trying to recover from being sick for a while. At first, I didn’t get it. But, it has since become an integral part of my life. At the time of writing this, I am on day 294 of daily meditation. The University of Waterloo found that just ten minutes of meditation a day can help you improve your focus. As a self-proclaimed anxious person, I have to say that my personal experience coincides with this. People often ask me how I’m able to get so much done and I’m pretty sure meditation has something to do with the fact that I regularly meditate – especially if I’m feeling lazy or overwhelmed. The good news meditation isn’t as hard as some people think it is, though I do recommend starting with guided meditations until you get the hang of it.

Music

Another way to help improve your focus is to use music. Specifically, you’ll want to use music meant to help you calm down and focus. This may look like different things to different people. It also may depend on what you do for a living. For example, as a writer, I cannot listen to music with words while I’m working because it distracts me. However, I can listen to instrumentals from subscription services like Brain.fm. My roommate who is an apparel designer is the complete opposite of me. Since she doesn’t deal with words for work, she loves listening to music she can sing along to while she designs. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here. The key is to find what actually works for you and use it.

Exercise

In addition to meditation as a tool to improve your focus, you can also do short bursts of exercise. The University of Western Ontario recently found that short bursts of exercise can give you a focus boost, at least for a little while. So, if you find yourself starting to doze off, get out of your chair and move around.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways you can improve your focus so you can meet your responsibilities. The key is to know which ones work for you so you can use them when need be.
Originally published here.

3 Ways Business Owners Can Use Their Time Wisely

By | Scheduling, Time Management | No Comments

As a human being, your time is the most valuable thing you have because it’s limited. As a business owner, not only is your time limited, but you can always use it to make more money. The problem is many business owners don’t know how to use their time wisely. How do I know this? Because I hear it all the time from business owners who are just starting out. There seems to be a fear that they don’t know what to do with their time – especially if they just quit their jobs and no longer have a manager telling them what to do. I’ve also had to learn some lessons the hard way. I often say I could be making more money by now if only I’d known how to make better use of my time when I was first starting out. Fortunately, for you, you can learn from my mistakes.

Focus on income-generating activities.

I would argue that focusing on income generating activities is one-way business owners can use their time wisely. While money by itself isn’t a motivating factor for many, what money allows us to do is.For example, having money helps me feel secure. I also have more fun because I’m not worried about paying bills. If I can remember this, then I can better focus and use my time for activities that lead to more money in the bank. Here are some example of activities that will directly lead to income:

  • Sales calls
  • Consultations
  • Pitching the media
  • Email marketing
  • Follow Ups
  • Product or service creation
  • List building

While some of these activities can be outsourced over time, chances are you will likely be focusing on these as you get started. Furthermore, you can use this list as a guide the next time you’re in doubt.

Focus on delegating the things that waste your time.

My team handles the majority of tasks that take away time from income generating activities. This includes managing my email, social media, customer service inquiries, graphic design, research, my calendar and loading content onto my website.

Set boundaries.

Another way business owners can use their time wisely is to set boundaries. Here’s an example from one of my clients to show you what I mean: I recently had a coaching client who would spend hours in a meeting with prospects who never ended up using her services. This means she lost an entire afternoon she could have used to talk to people who would pay her. I advised her to make some tweaks to her sales process, starting by setting some boundaries. She stopped taking meetings in person, started using an online scheduler and became strict about steering the call. The result is she has far fewer people who are wasting her time. She’s also begun to make some money whereas that was previously an issue because she didn’t have time to do more sales.

Final Thoughts

Making sure you’re using your time wisely is an important aspect of running a business. Otherwise, you end up leaving a lot of money on the table. Start with these tips and watch how you free up your time and make more money in the process.


Originally published here.

How to Create Work Life Integration In Your Business

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I often get asked about how I manage my own work-life balance. The answer is quite simple – I don’t believe in balance. It’s a myth. Instead, I focus on work-life integration and design my life and business accordingly.

Why I Prefer Work-Life Integration

The reason I don’t believe in work-life balance is that it implies you can give equal attention to all parts of your life. It also implies that all parts of your life are independent of each other. Anyone who lives in the 21st century can tell you this simply isn’t true and trying to pursue it leads to even more stress. There will be stages in your life when one area takes up more time than another and vice versa. A more attainable goal is work-life integration – meaning your career and your personal life work together.

How to Create Work-Life Integration

If you run your own business, you have more control over your work and your personal time. After all, you are the boss. The key is to make sure you aren’t the worst boss you’ve ever had. Here are a few of the ways you can integrate your work and your life so that they complement each other instead of competing with one another.

Attend events.

I’m a big networker. I’m always at some event supporting another female business owner or friend, at a workshop or at a professional happy hour. In the past week, I’ve had three events due to the holiday season – and each of them helped them were fun and helped me advance my career. We tend to think that work is hard and that it’s separate from fun. The truth is the two can coexist. For example, I attended an event a colleague was putting on as a guest. We just so happen to discuss a potential brand collaboration in 2018 while we were there. Not to mention, I’ve met a lot of the people I have the privilege of calling friends through work events. I met my roommate at a blogger meetup. That same blogger meetup group has given me an award for the last two years which has led to brand sponsorships.

Use technology to create location independence.

I like to travel for the most part. This is made a lot easier by the fact that I can literally work from anywhere so long as I have an internet connection. Using technology to run my entire business has allowed for work-life integration. For instance, a family member surprised me with a cruise last year. While I didn’t work for most of the trip, I could check email from the solarium of the ship if I needed to.

Stop making yourself feel guilty.

I still sometimes make myself guilty for working on a weekend but taking a Tuesday afternoon off. The reality is we can make whatever kind of schedule we want for ourselves. Maybe I go out on a Wednesday night because of a festival and work Saturday. Just because my regularly employed friends don’t do that doesn’t mean it’s not acceptable.

Final Thoughts

For many of us, the entire point of starting a business was so that we would have more control over our time. By focusing on work-life integration instead of work-life balance, we can easily live life on our terms.
Originally published here.

How to Make Sure Your Personal Life Doesn’t Negatively Affect Your Business

By | Business Tips, Knowledge Base | No Comments
Let’s be real. Sometimes, your personal life can wreak havoc on your business. As much as we try to keep personal and business separate, we’re human. The problem is when the issues in our personal lives affect our productivity. In recent weeks, I’ve engaged in multiple conversations with business owners who have all been dealing with things in their personal lives. No one makes it public, of course. However, when they are in circles with other business owners they trust, all the personal life dramas are shared. I’ve also had my fair share of drama in my personal life in recent months. As such, I’ve learned several strategies for not allowing it to affect my business. Here are some of the strategies I find work best.

Always prioritize savings.

As a business owner, the amount of money you make can be directly correlated to your output. Sometimes, things in our personal lives do require more of our attention and it causes us to take a temporary step back. That’s why it’s always good to have savings in the bank. For example, a couple of years ago I had to take a step back from my business to help my family with some things. Because I had savings, I was able to do it without any issue.

Give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions.

Making sure your personal life doesn’t affect your business doesn’t mean ignoring things. This can actually escalate conflict and make everything worse.  It simply means managing them. For example, if you’re going through an emotional period in your personal life, give yourself a set period of time to feel your emotions. Christine Hassler, a life coach for millennials, suggests giving yourself a few minutes each day to really feel your emotions. This way, you’re not ignoring them, but you’re also not letting them affect your business.

Be careful who you surround yourself with.

Sometimes, issues in your personal life can be traced back to those you surround yourself with. While you may be careful who you surround yourself with your business, perhaps this is a lesson you’re still learning in your personal life. I know I definitely am. If you notice that drama always seems to surround one or two people, then it’s time to cut them out. The last thing you need as a business owner is to always be involved in some mess because of the company you keep. Keeping your personal life out of your business becomes impossible when the people in your life consistently drag you down. Toxic people can easily overrun your life with their energy, which is why they need to go if you plan on running a successful business. Bottom line is if you don’t want your personal life ruining your business, then you need to take the preventative measure of making sure unnecessary drama won’t be caused.
Originally published here.

How to Create A Time Budget (And Stick to It)

By | Maintenance, Time Management | No Comments
When most people hear the word “budget” they think of their finances. It makes sense because money is a resource that needs to be managed. However, your time is a resource too. In fact, I would argue your time is even more valuable because you can’t get it back. That’s why it’s important that you also create a time budget for your life.

What is the purpose of a time budget?

I like to think of a time budget as a guideline that helps you spend your time the way you want to spend it. Granted, sometimes there are things we don’t want to do – like go to the dentist or pay taxes. But, for everything else, it’s important that we find time for the things that matter to us. For most people that looks like relationships, health and their careers. The only way to do this is to manage our time wisely and with intention.

How do you create a time budget?

The first step is already done – which is to determine what matters to you in life. The next step is to figure out what each of these important things looks like. Remember, your time is a limited resource so it must be used wisely. Let’s start with career since that takes up a lot of our time each week. What does being intentional in your career look like? What tasks will actually move you forward with your goal? What tasks are a waste of time or cause you to move backward? When do you stop working each day. The last one is especially important because you have other areas of your life that matter to you as well. Chances are you didn’t go into business for yourself to work all the time, especially because many people crave work life balance. Once you determine when you work, you also need to determine when you do other things. For example, I go to a fitness class on Mondays and Thursdays. I also dedicate weekends to friends and family.

How do you stick to a time budget?

In order to stick to your time budget, you need to have certain things in place. Just like you use apps and boundaries for finances, you also need them for your time. Here are some things that will help you stick to your time budget:
  • A calendar application. Let’s be real, if something isn’t on your calendar it doesn’t actually exist. Furthermore, a calendar application can help you time block tasks and activities. It can also let others know when you’re not available.
  • Very strong boundaries. People will take advantage of your time if you let them. That’s why it’s up to you to have very strong boundaries. Don’t hand over control of meetings and learn how to say no. Otherwise, you give away too much of your most valuable resource.
time budget is just as important as a budget for your finances. Both resources need to be managed to the best of your ability for a balanced life. It’s up to you to determine how you want to spend your time and protect it.
Originally published here.

3 Common Time Wasters for Your Business

By | Time Management | No Comments

I often coach business owners through the best ways to use their time. It’s too often that they come to me having an idea of what they should be doing, only to find out most of their tasks are time wasters. I understand why people are confused. They think that certain things like spending your time on social media lead to money in the bank. They also think their email will catch fire if they aren’t logged into it all the time. I get it because I get caught up in it too sometimes. However, there comes a time when we need to get rid of the time wasters in our businesses. This starts by determining one main thing: What actually leads to money in the bank? Everything else comes second. That being said, here are the most common time wasters in your business.

Social Media

This may sound strange coming from someone who uses social media marketing, but it’s a time suck. More specifically, social media channels are time wasters when you don’t know how they fit into a marketing plan. For example, spending your time on Facebook looking at memes is a waste of time. Posting on Instagram with no call to action is a waste of time. Posting random stuff that doesn’t drive traffic or build your email list? Also, a waste of time. On the other hand, if you know how to use social media as a part of your marketing funnel, then it’s worth spending some time on it. You may even want to consider outsourcing this important task to a marketing professional. Just because it can lead to money doesn’t mean it’s the best use of your time.

Meetings

Most meetings are time wasters. There, I said it. Let’s be honest, how many times have you sat in a meeting that could have been an email? Or how many times did a meeting run longer than it had to? How many times did a prospect waste your time with meetings that went nowhere? Probably several times. This is why I say to avoid meetings if you can. At the very least, avoid having meetings in-person since you have far less control over your time.

Email

Similar to meetings, emails are time wasters too. This is especially true if you have a busy inbox. Unfortunately, most people treat their inbox like a to-do list. When something pops up, they handle it. The problem is this takes time away from important tasks that can move your business forward. For example, you need to create a new service offering but your time is being spent on email correspondence. One way to fix this is to hire a virtual assistant who can handle email communication for you. They may not be able to handle everything, but they can at least sort through the unimportant stuff so you don’t have to.

Final Thoughts

The ironic thing about these common time wasters is people think they need them to make money. This is only half true. There’s a difference between efficiently using these things and wasting your time. Once you figure out the fine line, then it becomes easier to stick to the important stuff.


Originally published here.

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