The Essential Business Tools You Need to Declutter Your Life in 2020 and Beyond
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Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m not the most organized person –which is more common for entrepreneurs than you might realize. Therefore, when it comes to tools that promise to make my work life easier, faster and more productive, I’m all in.

I am always willing to try the latest and greatest to cover up my own weaknesses in the workspace,and of course, make me look like I’m a confident boss who has things more together than I really do.

With the help of a little bit of AI and some other clever apps, I have managed to increase my productivity so much that I even can take time for myself. The best part? You can replicate my results by adding these few simple steps to calm your own hectic life.

Calendar Tools

If you’re anything like me, you have more than one calendar. Whether it’s an iCal feed coming from Tripit, shared calendar with your significant other –or kids –or multiple client accounts you need to merge into one, having a “single source of truth” for your actual schedule is a never-ending nightmare.

Luckily, there are two tools that you can use to help with that. In order to view all your calendars at once– without seeing things duplicated– I recommend Fantastical. To have other people book your time, have them use Calendlyafter loading all your relevant calendars into the mix.

Email Tools

Once upon a time, I had one email address, and only a few emails to check each day. Now, I have multiple inboxes that I need to keep track ofand they all have their own daily supply of newsletters, junk mail,and spam to sift through before I can find the useful mail. Rather than aiming for Inbox Zero, I’m on the Inbox Infinity plan –and I’m making great strides every day.

Thankfully, I have a few solutions for that too. The mobile app Chuck helpfully sorts through your inboxes and will sort through to find any newsletters, unread emails, potential junk, etc. With a simple click, you can unsubscribe, archive or delete hundreds — or in my case, 20,000 — emails at once.

As for email programs, there is no one-size-fits-all. If you’ve got multiple inboxes, though, Edison email provides a unified inbox, which automatically finds all your most useful emails and sorts them for you. While it doesn’t let you set any mail filters or rules yet, it does save a lot in processing power.

Note Taking Tools

Now, you may not believe this, as I did previously work with Evernote,but I hate taking notes. I have always preferred to pay attention and be present in meetings, so taking notes always seemed counterintuitive to me.

Thankfully, technology has caught up to my conceit! Now, I have some awesome note-taking options for every meeting I’m in. Zoom offers automatic transcription for every cloud-recorded meeting I start. offers transcription for all my other calls, and then is handy for in-person meetings. Now, I have automatically transcribed notes from my calls that I can send out right away –win, win.

Time Tracking Tools

As a consultant, I used to dread filling out timesheets. As a lot of my time is spent in research, and another good chunk is spent writing and responding to emails, I would find myself seriously underestimating my time.

Thanks to Chrometa and Rescuetime, I can automatically generate timesheets for myself, and see exactly how much time I spent on each phone call, email, each web page — everything I do, really. Everything is handily organized into a spreadsheet that I can then edit and attach to any bill –or just keep for my own records.

By implementing these tools, you’ll be well on your way to a more organized new year.

Dec 20, 2019
This Billion-Dollar Brand's Covid Strategy: Act Like a Startup Again

Kendra Scott had 2020 planned out for her eponymous jewelry and home decor companywhen all of her plans–along with those of so many businesses–changed in an instant. “Covid-19 was not part of our plan,” Scott told Inc. editor-at-large Tom Foster during Inc.‘s latest Real Talk: Business Reboot webinarThursday. “The best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition.”

Scott, who’s based in Austin, says she had to return to a “startup mentality” to face the health crisis that temporarily closed the doors on her 108 retail locations and the economic freeze that altered her supply chain and changed customers’ purchasing habits. Working from home–while juggling homeschooling for herthree kids–and staying in touch with her teams and customers, she reminds herself to “be creative and collaborative and take each day as it comes.”

Here are some of the insights and highlights from Foster’s conversation with Scott:

Be flexible

Scott learned about flexibility during the Great Recession when she realized that selling her jewelry primarily through stores owned by others wasn’t going to work for her or her long-term plan. “Every store around was closing. Nobody had a store,” she recalled.

“When the crisis hit, I had to pivot quickly.It forced me to look at my business differently,” she said. That meant opening her own brick-and-mortar shop and going direct to consumer through the web. She remembers telling her staff that this move could not fail(“I’ll have to move back in my mother,” she said with a laugh), and thatit could succeed beyond their hopes.

A decade later, Scott has 108 stores and a thriving online business. And, pre-pandemic, her company wasvalued at $1billion.

Create a connection–however you can

Muchof the success of her retail locations is the way the stores’ designencourages customers to interact with the merchandise and salespeople. Unlike other jewelry stores filled with glass display cases (and, in some cases, plexiglassbarriers), Kendra Scott stores emphasizetactility and connection.

The challenge now is maintaining that feel in the 78 shops that have already reopened post-Covid, as well astranslating the experience online. Salespeople can no longer touch customers, but, as Scott muses, “How else can we touch her heart, touch her mind?”

One way has been speeding up a virtual try-on concept that was in the works for a year and that launched in April. Another has been implementing curbside pickup programs at some stores. This is especially important, since Scott believes brick-and-mortar stores are not going away. “We need those places,” she says. “We have to create places that allow people to connect.”

As Scott advises her employees: “Don’t worry about the transaction.Worry about the connection.”

Businesses need to ask (and answer), “Where is [the customer] in this moment? How can we serve her? How can we bring her joy?” Scott says. “Because she’s our boss. She signs our checks. If not for her, we don’t have jobs.”

Reach out

Since the start of the pandemic, Scott and her team have been reaching out to customers on every possible platform. She advises people to pick up the phone, send emails, or get on FaceTime with customers tomake them feel seen and appreciated. (Even her mother has been making calls.) Scott has also sent many handwritten letters. “The simplest things can make a real difference,” she says. “Don’t focus on the business. Focus on the customer.”

Learn from every crisis

Scott, whose company survived the last recession (and whose previous business did not succeed), knows about challenges. She also knows about keeping the faith during tough times. “There’s a reason this moment is happening,” she likes to tellherself. “In the moment, you may not understand it,” but a lesson will present itself. If you can understandthat lesson, you–and your company–will gain from it.

“Right now it seems so hard to understand why something like this has happened,” Scott says. One possible lesson: After the quarantine lifts and some of the harder hit sectors of the economy rebound, “We may be kinder to each other, more loving to each other,” she hopes. “Those are the gifts that may come from this struggle.”

May 28, 2020

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