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The Tech & Tools We Use As a Team Every Day

Your Team Needs to be Using These Small Business Project Management Tools
Filed Under > Everyday

Small business project management tools, Waiting on Martha

If you’ve ever worked on a team, then you’ll know that it really does take a village to get the good work done.  And no matter the size of your team, the tools and processes you use to stay on track can be complete game-changers when tackling the never ending to-do lists.  Fortunately, we’re at a very exciting time for dashboards, apps and programs that promise higher productivity and increased efficiency, with convenience and organization at their core. 

At Waiting on Martha, Inc., we’re always trying to work smarter with small business project management tools, and when we find some that work—like, really work—for us, we want to shout their names from the rooftops.  With 12 employees and various bodies of work—the shoppe, the blog, The Well Code and more—it’s become vital to lean on technology to ensure that everything is getting done in the best way possible. 

Our discovery and implementation of Asana a little over a month ago has completely blown us away.  This dashboard allows for us to keep track of all work, separated in different teams and appropriate projects, and keep the back-and-forth out of the email inbox. Our organization, accountability and overall work flow has dramatically increased since devoting time to using it as a team, even, and maybe especially, for those of us on the team that are working remotely from Atlanta. 

In addition to Asana, I’m including a few other essential tools that the team uses on an everyday basis below.  Some you may have heard of, others that you have yet to use on your own team. It’s especially important to note as you’re looking at them that all of these tools are continually improving and evolving.  It might be worth your while to revisit the unpaid and paid offerings of ones you had ruled out before. 

I’d love to know what small business project management tools that you use everyday, and if there are any we should add to the list.  I’m a nerd with this kind of stuff, and I always like to find ways to do my job better!  Cheers, Kat

P.S. Do all of these tools get you in GSD mode?!  Dress your desk for the part with our top desk essentials HERE. xo 

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Asana

A project management dashboard that has changed our lives

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Oh my gosh.  Asana has absolutely changes our lives at Waiting on Martha, Inc.  I honestly don’t know how we functioned without this project management tool.  If you’re part of a small business, no matter if you’re a 2-person team or crew of 10+ people, you need to be using Asana.

First, this project management dashboard lets users keep track of work on separate teams.  We separate our teams based on different arenas. Since we have the shoppe, the blog, The Well Code and more pillars of work, we keep those projects visible to only those who they pertain to. 

We then create projects within each team, with corresponding tasks within each project.  Projects and tasks can be visible to only me, or I can assign others on the team to “follow” their progress and updates too. It’s all highly customizable, and it’s actually all a bit FUN to create and structure!  To-do list lovers, this is your tool. 

Maybe my favorite features about Asana is the actionable conversations within each task.  Sometimes I need to ping MKR with a quick question or request before completing something on my plate.  I’m able to keep this in a conversation within the task, with necessary files and attachments included too.  Game-changer.

We can also keep track of our results and progress a lot easier in Asana. This is especially important for us in quarterly initiatives, blog partnership ROI reporting, etc. and eliminates our inbox overflow tenfold. #thankgoodness

P.S. Asana has a GREAT app for work on-the-go, too. 

Google Calendar

Our standard color-coded team calendars

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Google Calendar is a free online calendar that is the easiest way for us to keep track of our editorial content for the blog, upcoming in-store events and promotions for the shoppe, any team members’ appointments, brand partnership calls, etc.

We have 3 different calendars (Editorial for the Blog, Shoppe work schedule for employees, and WOM All for meetings, appointments, events, birthdays, etc.) that different team members have access to.  And each separate calendar is color-coded up the wazoo, and we use this simple everyday tool in tandem with Asana.  We’ve realized how visually based we are as a team, and we appreciate the ease of access of Google Calendar for all of our scheduling needs. 

Planoly

A visual planner for Instagram

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Planoly is incredibly helpful for visually planning Instagram content.  We love this tool since we take our Instagram “grids” and the flow of images very seriously. Since Instagram can really become a time-suck, it’s nice to upload pre-planned content ahead of time to allow for more time in the present.

Planoly also works for Instagram Stories, a somewhat recent update that proves my point that you should revisit apps you may or may not have used in the past.  Anyway, if you have the “Swipe Up” option on your Instagram business account for Instagram Stories, you’ll know that it also is time-consuming to upload links with images on the go.  Planoly cuts down on the time it takes to get these posts up by allowing you to add the hyperlink with the image in the dashboard.  

Ahalogy

An integrative tool for amplifying our Pinterest strategy

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Ahalogy maximizes our Pinterest strategy, which is incredibly important to us as Pinterest continues to be our #1 traffic referrer to the blog.  We’re able to schedule pins for optimal posting times through the dashboard, using helpful “lift” words in our captions that Ahalogy recommends to boost our searchable content.  We can pin directly from the dashboard, and we can use a convenient bookmark widget to pull images from specific posts. 

This tool has proven to be a promising way to tackle ongoing Pinterest initiatives without taking up too much valuable time. 

Being an approved content publisher in Ahalogy has been a fruitful component of our editorial strategy, too.  We can partner with brands on sponsored content and use Ahalogy’s impressive content analysis and data tracking to make it a successful, mutually beneficial collaboration. 

CoSchedule

Our #1 editorial marketing calendar tool

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We’ve used this editorial marketing calendar for years now.  It’s linked directly to our blog via WordPress, and it allows for us to schedule Facebook and Twitter posts at triple or quadruple the speed than we could manually on each platform.  We’re able to promote current content as well as archive old content very efficiently.  

It’s also a great at-a-glance tool for us to keep track of editorial content that’s coming down the pipeline. And lastly, we’re able to see helpful insights and analytics about social shares from our original blog content (including Pinterest, too).

This tool works really well for small businesses like ours; we have several logins that let a few of us work in it simultaneously.  There are also great plans designed for professional marketing teams and agencies.  Beyond our standard editorial calendar and social sharing, there are many, many more features available at different price levels, including a social automation tool that uses data-driven intelligence to reshare your best messages to every major social network, workflow management that could be used in place of another dashboard, integrations with Evernote, Google Docs, Google Analytics and more.

Seriously, this tool is a game-changer!

Shopify

An easy-to-use ecommerce platform

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Shopify is an ecommerce platform that’s perfect for your business, whether you sell online, through social media, in-store or even out of the trunk of your car.  It features an incredibly easy platform to navigate, and it allows many of our team members to access our shoppe products, revenue insights and point-of-sale technology in an instant at our new brick & mortar store. The integration is one less thing we have to worry about, which is great. 

Shopify Support and the Shopify blog are also amazing.  The Shopify blog also offers countless resources that help us evolve our business strategy and grow every day.  I highly recommend checking it out! 

MailChimp

Our email marketing automation

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MailChimp is the world’s largest marketing automation platform, and for good reason.  It’s very, very simple to navigate, and it offers everyone from small ecommerce shops to big online retailers a chance to reach their customers and grow their business.  

MailChimp utilizes an easy “drag-and-drop” functionality that allows us to upload .jpg or .gif files and a hyperlink for direct traffic referrals back to the blog, shoppe and links around the web.  

And with the paid feature, you can automate optimal sending times, which is nice if you’re every wondering what time is really the best for open and click through rates. There are also many opportunities to segment your lists and strategically send customized messages. 

Featured image, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

Starting the BBG Workout by Kayla Itsines

An Honest Take on The First Few Weeks of The Program
Filed Under > Everyday

Starting the BBG workout

Have you heard of BBG?  It’s short for Bikini Body Guide, and it’s a high intensity interval training workout program that’s sweeping the planet one body transformation at a time.  It was created by aussie Kayla Itsines, and it’s a super effective 12-week program that’s built of short, concise exercise circuits.  I’m talking 28 minute workouts that focus on arms, abs, legs, and overall body.  And the workouts can be done just about anywhere.  

I have actually tried BBG a couple of times in the past.  But both times I fell out of the routine, lost motivation doing it by myself, and ultimately returned to group classes.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid ClassPasser.  The app allows me to try a good variety of fitness classes to keep my workout routine interesting and it caters to me if I’m in a strength training mood or a zenned out yoga mood.  

Since I had had a taste of BBG before, I was thrilled when MKR recently proposed the idea of starting BBG as a team.  I thought to myself, this was finally the time I’d stick it out and see the results I know that so, so many have seen!

I mean, it’s hard to not be impressed with the before-and-afters on Instagram.  Everyone on the team agreed that starting BBG workouts would be an exciting thing to do together, and well worth our time to get into gear and feel stronger.

After getting everyone on board, 11 team members to be exact, we decided on a few ways we’d keep everyone accountable and excited.  We settled on a group text chain, and a Google Doc form that took inventory of everyone’s exercise habits, fitness goals, body type, ages, etc.  We then created a weekly form via Google Docs that would collect everyone’s responses to the previous week’s workout. The form included questions about soreness, motivation levels, thoughts on the specific exercises and overall accountability for following the week’s recommended circuits.  This seemed to be a promising way of keeping everyone on the same page with progress.  

Our baseline survey taught us that our ages range from 20-37, with the majority of us 27-29 years old. Most of us regularly exercise 3-5 times per week, and are in moderately good shape. We have lots of yogis, runners and barre-lovers in the group, too.  Lastly, we all submitted fitness goals of becoming more confident, stronger, and more toned.  It was refreshing to see so many responses about strength rather than weight and lbs! 

So how has it been going?!  Everyone was really gung-ho about the program in the first two weeks.  We encouraged each other on our group text thread, sent photos and videos for a quick laugh and support, and really just felt like we were going somewhere with the workout plan. It was unanimous that burpees were the worst exercise imaginable, though jump lunges and commandos were up there too. We were all sore, but we also reveled in the feeling of comradery as we suffered together. 

But ever since the first few weeks, we’ve definitely had fallout.  Responses in our weekly progress Google Doc have lessened, and the group text is almost all crickets these days.  I personally suffered a minor injury and fell out of routine as I rested before a 10-day hiking trip.  And I know I can speak for the group in saying that it was difficult to adhere to the exact schedule that’s laid out in the guide.  The guide leads you to do at least three HIIT sessions throughout the week, with recommendations for cardio exercise on other days.  Since we had a group doing it together, we all felt a little guilty whenever we’d miss the workout that day.

So why the fallout?  People didn’t have enough time.  Some of us had minor injuries.  Some of us attended other workout classes and wanted them to “count” for the BBG workout that day.  Some of us just really preferred other ways of working out!  Whatever the reasons were, it felt like life in general just got in the way of the very specific schedule.  And after missing one or two of the workouts, it was ridiculously easy to throw the towel in and quit altogether.

From seeing the team’s responses, and in talking to everyone, I think the hardest struggle here is in consistency and the battle we all have in our minds with ourselves.  There were times when we made ourselves feel down, discouraged and guilty for not sticking to the schedule.  But after reading posts by BBG loyalists and many success stories, I think the main thing we need to keep in mind is that the program is flexible. We just need to do the three HIIT workouts sometime throughout the week.  And sometimes it may be harder than others, but we just need to get it done.

A few of us are still hanging in there.  We’re feeling stronger overall, but a lot of us haven’t seen any dramatic results just yet.  As we approach Week 6, we’ll admit that may have missed some workouts but we still DO want to stay strong and complete the guide.  We’re trying to fight the temptation to quit because we want to tackle this challenge.  We’d love to know: any BBGers out there?  What struggles have you faced while doing the program?  Do you have any tips or suggestions for our team?  Thank you!  Cheers, Kat

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Photography, Haley Sheffield for Waiting on Martha

Worth Noting: Fall Revival

Say hello to faded denim, muted tones and texture for fall
Filed Under > Everyday

Fall essentials and 70s revival fashion on waitingonmartha.com

Okay, okay, okay, I might be ready for fall now.  As I’ve mentioned here several times, I’m a summer lover through and through.  But around this time every year I do have to admit that fall fashion starts to tug at my heart strings.  This year especially, I’ve loved seeing the 70’s revival trend in full force with wide leg jeans, plenty of florals, muted tones and suede…not to mention those velvet Golden Gooses!  Are you feeling the fall vibes finally too?!  Cheers, Kat

P.S. If you’re still squeezing the last few drops out of summer—be sure to take advantage of the great end-of-season sales around the web. I’ve linked to several good pieces here. xo 

One. Jersey Top with Embroidery, H&M Two. Stella Wrap Pave Sunburst Necklace, Ever Alice Studio Three. Cropped Frayed High Rise Jeans, Net-a-porter Four. Sibilia Four Moons Earrings, Waiting on Martha Home Five. Superstar Dark Yellow Velvet Sneakers, Intermix Six. Wool Felt Wide Brim Fedora Hat, Neiman Marcus Seven. Vintage Pilot Sunglasses 50 mm, Nordstrom Eight. Snack Club Key Tag, Waiting on Martha Home Nine. Misa Coin Necklace, Ever Alice Studio Ten. Aerin Ikat Jasmin Eau de Parfum, Net-a-porter Eleven. Tory Burch Cora Printed Silk Dress, Net-a-porter Twelve. Sigerson Morrison Belin Suede Booties, Shopbop Thirteen. Tiny D Box Shoulder Bag, Net-a-porter Fourteen. Denim Jacket, H&M Fifteen. rms beauty Luminizer Quad, Nordstrom Sixteen. French Girl Organics Rose Creme Fraiche Moisturizer, Waiting on Martha Home Seventeen. See by Chloe Joan Shoulder Bag, Shopbop Eighteen. Ruffled Cotton Blouse, Net-a-porter Nineteen. Florals Mesh Bracelet Watch, Nordstrom

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