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Life Skills

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

6 Easy Healthy Habits to Add to Your Daily Routine

Easy Ways to Improve Your Health Day In and Day Out
Filed Under > Everyday

Ritual Vitamins, Waiting On Martha

We have the tendency to dive right into wellness topics here—some well known and some not so well known. Everyday mind-and-body wellness is something both MKR and I are both passionate about learning and always improving upon.  But sometimes we need to take a step back and get back to the basics.  

See, I can talk to you for hours about purple plates, mushroom coffee and nootropics I’m currently trying at home, but I can also forget simple healthy daily habits just like the rest!  So today I’m slowing down and revisiting six easy things that we should all be doing every day.  

From changing the way we think about multi vitamins thanks to Ritual Vitamins, getting back to setting a bedtime, and to taking the time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air in those new kicks, these healthy habits should become so in-grained in your routine that they don’t even feel like to-do’s anymore.  That’s the goal, right?!  But let’s discuss; what do you struggle with every day?  

I can sometimes forget to drink enough water if I’m on the go or somewhere new.  I also forget the simple power of walking around the block outside to get the juices flowing and give my mind a breather!  Not to mention how often I find myself reaching for my phone even when I shouldn’t be.  Is there anything you’d add to this list?  Tell us about your healthy habits in the comments below.  Cheers, Kat

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Ritual Essential for Women

Ritual, $30/mo

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Tip #1: Nourish Your Body

By now we generally understand the importance of nourishing our body with whole foods, and avoiding processed foods while working to limit sugar and alcohol. Taking a daily multi vitamin is a good, and easy, way to round out whatever the body may still be deficient in. 

Ritual came out with a visionary vitamin that has the nine essential ingredients most women don’t get enough of out of their diets alone. It also doesn’t include the vitamins that most of us are pretty good on already, which is a new approach for many multi-vitamins.  By taking it everyday, you’ll likely experience an improvement in mood, more energy, anti-aging effects and healthier skin. 

Ora Organic Trust Your Gut Probiotics

Amazon, $39.99

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Tip #2: Prioritize Good Gut Health

Hippocrates once said “all disease begins in the gut.” And he was on to something; one of the most important functions of our body everyday is digestion. And believe me, when you have poor gut health, it affects your life dramatically. That’s why it’s important to focus on small steps to improve your gut health by fueling the good bacteria in there with a probiotic.  It’s an easy way to get started on the road to good, healthy digestion.  After reading this post, I was a changed woman when it came to prioritizing my gut health every day. 

Sony Alarm Clock Radio

Amazon, $22.45

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Tip #3: Set a Bed Time

Our bodies crave consistency.  And that includes a daily routine with a bed time and wake-up time. When those are at generally the same time every day, our body systems naturally fall into a pattern like clockwork. 

Creating a calming bedtime routine and target time to go “lights-off”, you’re setting your body up for a better night’s sleep, which will ultimately affect your next day and the one after that.  My advice: make it enjoyable; light some candles, turn on a diffuser with soothing essential oils like lavender and chamomile, drink some nighttime tea, and read a few pages in bed.  

Essentia 9.5 pH Drinking Water

Amazon, $31

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Tip #4: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Drinking enough water every day is really crucial to staying healthy.  By hydrating properly, you’re helping to maintain the functions at every system in your body. A lot of times when we feel out of whack, drinking more water helps. 

Nike Zoom Pegasus 33 Sneaker

Nordstrom, $110

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Tip #5: Get Outside

During all of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes it can be easy to forget the power of getting outside to feel happier and healthier.  Consider ways you can soak up some Vitamin D from the sun and breathe in fresh air throughout your day and you won’t regret it…even if it’s for just a few minutes!

The Universe Has Your Back

Amazon, $24.99

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Tip # 6: Put the Phone Down!

There’s no denying it; we’re all too connected all of the time.  It’s affecting our everyday thoughts and health more than we may realize.  Don’t believe me? Check out this segment with Anderson Cooper discussing the hold that phones have over us. 

Instead, work to leave the phone in the other room, replacing it with books and activities like coloring and meditation that require you to be all there, in the moment. 

Featured image, Ritual 

How I’m Using Technology to Better My Life

Intentional Tech Use & Mindful Apps to Try Today
Filed Under > Everyday

I’ll be the first to admit that technology has caused us to be more stretched and disconnected than ever; it allows us to do about 10 more things than we normally could handle, and gives us instant gratification and sometimes fulfillment at the press of a button. But while technology often brings about a negative connotation for our daily lives, I’ve found it can actually be used to help you unplug and grow for the good too. 

With a few pieces like my Apple WatchSonos speakers, and innovative and mindful apps on my iPhone like Coach, I’m able to be more present in my day-to-day life, ultimately relying less on technology.  Sounds counter-intuitive, I know!  But I’ve found myself actually on my phone LESS, living in the moment with friends, family and colleagues more, all while remembering to breathe, take care of my body and get my daily steps in. 

Below, I outline a few intentional tech tools and mindful apps that I’ve found helpful the past few months.  What would you add to the list?  We’d love to know!  Truly, MKR

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Apple x Hermes Cuff Watch

Apple x Hermes

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I went back and forth for over a year debating on wether or not to purchase the Apple watch.  I was worried that I’d be more tied to technology by getting it, plus I really love the feeling of having an actual watch.  But after having it now for about 5 months I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  In fact I’d say it actually helps me to stay off my phone and away from tech more than ever.  Now, I can just glance at the notification and see if it’s something I need to answer now or if it can wait allowing me not to get sucked into my phone .  It’s also really helped my overall health; I’ve kept track of my daily steps, exercise and standing throughout the day, and I’ve set goals for myself to improve.  

Sonos PLAY:1 Compact Wireless Smart Speaker

Sonos

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We have these wireless speakers set up throughout the house.  They stream directly from your phone’s apps like Spotify, Pandora, Podcasts and more. My favorite time to listen to them is while I’m cooking and while I’m in the shower; I can put on a podcast, a TED talk, etc. 

Coach App

by Lift Worldwide

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The Five Minute Journal recommended this app as a good way to hold yourself accountable for things.  It offers goal and habit tracking, along with reminders and checkins along the way. It’s pretty eye opening when used with simple chores like making your bed, working out, etc. 

Breathe for Apple Watch App

Apple Watch

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LOVE this app on my Apple Watch; it reminds me to breathe and meditate throughout the day.  You can customize when you’ll receive reminders to breathe and take a few moments to yourself.  The visuals also happen to be mesmerizing…helping me with my meditation practice too! 

 

Bedtime on iPhone

Apple iOS

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Not an app per say, but this feature on the new iOS reminds me when to go to bed to get a full night’s rest.  For those of you who know I have trouble sleeping, this app has really helped me be cognizant of the time I devote to getting some shut-eye. It’s also pretty cool to go back and see how my nights have compared, and what days of the week seem to be better for me to get my 8 hours in. 

She Reads Truth Bible + Devotional App

She Reads Truth

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Over the past year, I’ve really put a focus on my morning rituals, and that includes having some religious quiet time.  She Reads Truth is a company that I’ve been drawn to; they share intentional readings and encourage casual conversation about God’s word.  The app lets you sync up with others to read the same passages, building an inspiring and amazing community of women. 

Blinkist App

by Blinks Labs

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We’ve talked about the Blinkist app before, but it’s still a favorite.  The app lets you read or listen one of 1,800+ nonfiction and self-help books in under 15 minutes.  It’s a great way to tackle that ever-growing reading list, especially if you buy as many books on Amazon as I do!  

Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

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