Independent media and marketing professionals, such as video producers, website developers, activists, journalists, graphic designers, editors, copywriters and others who manage small media businesses face specific challenges. Managing a client base, expenses, payments and projects are just a few of the many details that independent media professionals manage daily.
Typically, independent media professionals are right-brain dominant, meaning they excel in creative disciplines; but can be less analytical and organized. Generally, left-brained individuals run businesses while right-brained individuals focus on creative endeavors. When right-brained types are presented with thoughts about time management, the classic response is negative. Organization and time management feels claustrophobic, neat and controlled. Essentially, it’s tedious to them.
However, anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit must focus on the logistics of running a small business because it greatly affects the bottom line. The business details can’t be ignored or failure is inevitable. The good news is I truly believe it is easier to train a right-brained type to better organize time and details than it is to teach a left-brained type to be more imaginative and innovative.
Today’s post focuses on some of the details that independent media and marketing professionals should manage and track. It also includes tips about the apps and applications that can be used for tracking and managing these details.
Track Appointments and Events
Sometimes right-brained types have trouble keeping track of commitments, such as appointments and other events. Essentially, they can have a tendency to get engrossed in project work and forget about an important appointment with a potential client.
When independent media professionals use a smartphone and the right productivity apps, these types of mishaps are less likely to occur. The stock calendar app provided on a smartphone is a great place to start; however, there are more comprehensive apps that can display events from multiple calendars and also provide more bells and whistles. Right-brained types are typically very visual so I would recommend a calendar app that has a variety of calendar views; color coding of events; a daily agenda; reminders and audible and visible notifications.
The daily agenda shown here is a great example of how to easily track appointments, events and other details for the current day, the following day and the next seven days — all at a single glance. It also color-codes the types of items on the calendar and if external calendar items are included, it color-codes events from those calendars, as well.
Manage Tasks and To Do Lists
A to do list can greatly improve time management and the number of things that get done every day. Keeping tasks and to dos in your head is a great way to suffer from brain overload. Media professionals need to free their brain from the tasks and to dos that are floating around so they can focus on creativity and the project at hand.
The best way to manage tasks and to dos is with a digital to do list (rather than a paper list). Below are some of the reasons:
- Re-prioritization – depending on the digital to do list app, re-prioritization is usually as quick and easy as a tap and drag action.
- Sharing and Collaboration – a digital format makes sharing and collaboration easy. It’s nearly impossible to share a paper list with someone who’s not at the same location when you’re delegating or sharing tasks.
- Reuse – Paper lists and sticky notes are for one-time use only. Digital lists can be re-used.
- Search and History – Completed tasks or to dos that are written on paper or whiteboards cannot be searched for history purposes. One they’re erased, they are lost forever.
- Mobility – Your smartphone is compact, always with you – and ready while on the go.
The image here shows an example of a digital to do list that can be easily prioritized, shared, searched and reused.
Manage Projects and Deadlines
When flying solo or with a small team it’s just as important to manage your projects and tasks, as it would be with a larger traditional team. Sometimes a digital to do list is enough for a project, but for more complex projects or if you’re working with multiple clients, a meatier project management solution might be necessary.
It’s important to know what’s required of you from your client and when the tasks are due. You might be a right-brained type, but you can’t always wait for the right time to get things done. Clients demand that projects are delivered on time.
Gathering your client’s goals, determining the scope of the project, understanding the budget, knowing the resources that are available to you and defining your strategy are all necessary when project planning. You must also understand how the client defines success of the project. Once all of these items are defined, break the project down into small, manageable chunks – in the form of a series of tasks.
It’s not necessary to use heavyweight software. Gantt charts and complicated project management systems might be excessive. Generating a series of tasks with deadlines for a project and the ability to associate supporting information might be all you need. The image here shows a task with supporting information.
Track Clients, Record Client Requirements and Build Relationships
Customer Relationship Management is an important part of managing a small media or marketing business, but organizing the information about clients can be difficult and cumbersome – not only for right-brained types – for just about anyone.
When running a small business, generally you get a feel for when it’s the right time to start implementing customer relationship management software. For example, is managing clients starting to feel out of control? How do you keep track of your top clients? How do you manage information about your clients that’s important to you? How do you track follow-ups with your clients? What state of the sales cycle are your contacts currently in? How do you manage client requirements? All of this and more can be managed through CRM software.
In the following image, you can see that the app below tracks the items mentioned. Top clients are tracked through groups; custom information is tracked via custom forms (i.e. Customer Satisfaction); state of the sales cycle is tracked through the status; client information is tracked through notes; and client follow-ups are tracked through the contact log.
Track Income and Expenses
Many independent media professionals count on 1099s, bank deposits, bank statements and credit card statements to track income and expenses. It’s a good idea to track income and expenses using a spreadsheet or other software apps or applications in addition to these other methods to ensure the accuracy. This way, when you do your taxes it will be easier to understand what your income was and how much you spent to run your business. In the app below, expenses are easy to track and they can be divided and organized by category.
Also, in the same app, notice that you can keep track of a list of transactions to get a handle from whom your deposits are originating and your total income. This is a great way to double check that your bank deposits are correct.
An All-in-One App for Independent Media Professionals
Wouldn’t it be great if I told you that all of the images above were collected from one all-in-one app? LifeTopix is an all-in-one app that allows you to manage all of these details in one place – and all of the information is naturally connected. In addition, it doesn’t require monthly subscription fees like other apps and applications. You can find it at the Apple App Store.
If you’re not familiar with LifeTopix, it’s an all-in-one productivity app for business and life available at the Apple App Store. With LifeTopix, you can organize and plan just about anything in your busy life. You can manage projects and tasks, make to do lists, take notes, manage files, make grocery lists, track finances, plan services, manage contacts, track assets, create events, plan travel, manage education, track health and much more.
One of the unique aspects of LifeTopix, is the ability to print agendas, to do lists, checklists, tasks, asset reports, notes, grocery lists and more. Today’s post shows you how to get the most out of the printing features of your LifeTopix app.
Printable Calendar Agenda
Knowing what’s on your schedule today, tomorrow and the next seven days is key to getting things done on time. That’s why LifeTopix includes a unified agenda with your to do lists or checklists, reminders (LifeTopix and iOS) and calendar items (LifeTopix and iOS) all in one easy-to-read view as shown below.
You can easily print your agenda by tapping the icon that’s indicated in the above graphic in the upper right corner. After you choose “Print,” you can choose whether you want to print in Portrait or Landscape mode. Next, LifeTopix asks if you wish to save the Agenda to the My Documents folder. When you save the file to My Documents, it becomes available for use as a PDF. You can now associate this file with many items in your LifeTopix app, such as projects, tasks, contacts and more. An example of a printable agenda is shown below.
Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner in the screen above allows you to share, print or open the document in a different app.
Printable Asset Reports
One of the unique features of LifeTopix is the ability to keep a list of assets that you own or lease. In fact, you can use LifeTopix’s asset features in a variety of ways. For example, real estate agents use assets to track home selling details for their clients.
In LifeTopix, assets hold a variety of information. For example, an asset may include manufacturer, model, SKUs, serial number or VINs as well as other information. Assets also include categories, purchase dates, last updated dates, statuses and optional context tags; in addition, assets can be sorted, organized and printed by these categories.
The images below show an ungrouped and grouped list of assets in the LifeTopix iPad app. The grouped assets are organized by category, which in this example is “For Sale,” “In Contract,” and “Sold” for a real estate agent’s properties. These statuses are flexible and defined by you.
Once you display these assets, you can generate an asset report in portrait or landscape mode by tapping the icon at the bottom left and choosing Print as shown above. Just like the Agenda view, you can choose to save the report to your my Documents folder or go directly to the print button to print the asset report, open it or share it. Examples of the uncategorized and categorized reports are shown below.
Printable To Do Lists and Checklists
One of the most valued features of a to do list app is the ability to print the list, but this feature is not always available from the single purpose apps that you find at the Apple App Store. LifeTopix includes wide-ranging checklist and to do list capabilities in the Notes + Files, Lists topic. You can prioritize, print, re-use, add due dates, copy, and export your to do lists and checklists. In addition, you can convert these lists to “Pro Checklists” in order to add tasks, appointments, reminders, activities, nutrition, health stats, medication and wellness entries to a list.
An example of a LifeTopix checklist for a real estate agent is shown below.
Printing a to do list is simple. Tapping Actions -> Print as shown above displays the checklist and gives you the choice of saving it as a PDF if you wish. An example of the printed checklist is shown below.
Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner in the screen above allows you to share, print or open the to do list in a different app.
The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects gives you the ability to organize, enter, prioritize, track and check off even the most complex projects and tasks in a natural, streamlined and easy-to-understand way. An example of a task list for a real estate agent’s project is shown below.
Sometimes, you might want to print out a list of tasks for a project. The best way to print a list of tasks for a project is to follow the steps outlined below.
- Tap the Tasks + Projects topic.
- Locate the Projects tile and tap it.
- Locate the project that contains the tasks you wish to print and tap it. Tip: Use the Group By filter to help you locate the project if you have many projects.
- Tap the project to open it.
- Tap Actions -> Print. Once again, you’re given the option of whether or not you wish to save a PDF to My Documents.
An example of the printable task list is shown below.
Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner shown in the screen above allows you to share, print or open the task list in a different app.
Printable Grocery Lists
Often times, many users of grocery list apps would like a printable list, but it’s not available from all apps. A printable grocery list comes in handy if you wish to easily give a spouse, family member or coworker a shopping or grocery list. You can generate shopping lists in the Shopping + Gifts topic of LifeTopix. The following image shows a shopping list that was generated for a trip to India. As shown, you can simply tap the Actions button and easily print the list.
The list appears as shown below and tapping the icon in the upper-right corner allows you to share, print or open the shopping or grocery list in a different app.
The Notes + File, Lists topic in LifeTopix includes powerful note-taking, drawing and note organization features. It also includes features for managing online files from Dropbox™, Google Drive™ and OneDrive™ and syncing online notes from Evernote® and Toodledo. LifeTopix’s built-in and extensive note-taking features include printable notes. An example of a LifeTopix note created by a real estate agent to hold client’s requirements is shown below.
Like other objects in LifeTopix, you are able to easily print a note, as shown above. An example of the printed note is shown in the following image. Tapping the icon in the upper-right corner (below) allows you to share, print or open the note in a different app.
Accessing Your PDF Files
When you save your files to the My Documents folder as described previously in this blog post, you might want to access them later in order to associate them with objects in your LightArrow app or for viewing purposes. For example, you might want to associate a checklist with a project.
To locate your saved files, perform the steps below:
- Tap the Notes + Files, Lists topic.
- Tap Files and then tap the plus sign.
- Tap Folder and then tap Local Files.
- Tap the information icon next to “File.”
- Then tap My Documents. A list of your local files is shown. See the image below as an example.
After you locate the file you wish to work with:
- Choose View to see the PDF or choose Select to add it to your list of files.
- In the New File view, tap Save.
- It is now included in your list of files and you can access it by tapping the File tile in the Notes + Files topic.
Now that you’ve added the PDF as a local file, you can associate it with LifeTopix objects (assets, events, goals, notes, projects, etc.) directly from the object itself or from the file as shown below (Associate Topic or Associate Contact).
In addition, all files saved in the My Documents folder can be shared via AirDrop, sent via text message, opened in other apps (such as Dropbox, Box, Adobe Reader etc.), by tapping the icon in the upper-right corner as shown below.
In LifeTopix, printing is available in many more views, such as the detailed views of trips, contacts and more. In fact, the LightArrow team is constantly improving the print support.
I hope this post gives you a general overview of the printing capabilities of LifeTopix. If you have any questions about LifeTopix or its printing capabilities, feel free to comment on this post below.