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The Side Hustler's Top Rated Apps That Boost Productivity

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There are three reasons I haven’t (entirely) lost my sanity since starting my home based workshop:

1. Moose
2. Wine
3. Smartphone apps

Before my side-hustle, my day was manageable. I woke up, went to work, came home, vegged on the couch with Moose, washed my wine glass, and repeat. Now, my brain is always ‘on’.

The Side Hustler's Top 5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity - girl sitting at a desk at her computer with a cup of coffee 

In addition to getting myself ready and walking Moose, I check orders that came in over night, update inventory, mail out the previous days' orders, and post to social media.  All while tracking buses in order to make sure I hustle out of the house when one is 5 minutes away without forgetting my lunch and metro card and earrings.  

Organization has become numero A. But, I like to keep a healthy balance of traditional and modern tactics.

I keep to-do lists on post-its and on my phone, which comes in handy when I go on a mad cleaning spree and throw away the post-its.

Some days, I feel easy-breezy, and I work spontaneously; drawing out designs, creating new colors, and taking photos as inspiration strikes. Other times, I’m stressed the F out and need to stay focused (i.e., work in total silence).

When that happens, I turn to a few of my favorite smartphone applications to boost my productivity and stay focused. Here are a few of my favorites.

1) For creating blog, Facebook, and Pinterest graphics

Canva is to small business owners as Couch-to-5K is to potatoes. It’s an easy-to-use graphic-design tool website with incredible functionality, a drag-and-drop interface, and a library of free templates, $1 stock photos, and beautiful fonts and graphics.

Plus. It’s free! You can create a variety of content with Canva's pre-sized social media images, header templates, documents, presentations, business cards, and more. And if you purchase Canva for Work, you can upload your fonts too.

What do I use Canva for?  I use Canva to create the graphics I use in blog posts as well as many of my Pinterest images and graphics I use in Kate & Moose emails.  Want to join the Colorful Insiders list?  That's a great idea!  Sign up here:

2) For shipping

As an e-commerce business, shipping is a necessary yet inconvenient evil.  Waiting in line at the post office can feel like torture.  Kind of like waiting in line at Starbucks.

I love using Shippo because it's the only service that I've found that offers return shipping labels.  Offering an easy and free return service has been great for customer service.  Plus, the return shipping labels are “scan-based” which means Kate & Moose is only charged if my customer uses it. 

Plus, Shippo offers competitive shipping rates from all of the top carriers. While there are a number of apps and shipping services that integrate with Shopify, Shippo is my favorite.

3) For managing Kate & Moose

Every time I make a sale, the Shopify app cha-chings (like a cash register).  A smile breaks out I can’t resist the itch to check on my side hustle while on a lunch break. So, you could say the Shopify app is my back scratcher.

Shopify is an e-commerce platform where you can manage inventory, track your sales and growth, and process orders. I can even update my product descriptions or add new products. The Shopify app enables me to add products and update products descriptions easily, allows me to easily inventory, and   

4) For self-control

When I’m stressed or in a time crunch, I need help cutting out distractions. That’s where SelfControl for Mac comes in. It’s a free application that blocks your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet, like time-sucking Facebook, Netflix, or Pinterest.

Set a period to block for, say 7 pm to 9 pm.  Add websites to your blacklist and click Start. Until the timer expires, you can’t access those sites -- even if you restart your computer or delete the application. Scary but effective.

5) For offering online ordering to wholesale clients

I searched endlessly for an easy option that allowed me to offer online ordering for stores that carry Kate & Moose.  Based on my research, the easiest solution was to create a separate website.  🙃  But running one website is tough enough so this solution was not for me.

And then a dear friend, Casey D. Sibley, mentioned the app Locksmith and the heavens opened wide.  With the help of the developer, I was able to set up products only available to stores and was even able to add in free shipping for orders over a specific amount.  Hands down, Locksmith is my favorite app that helps me remain productive because once it's up and running, I don't have to do anything other than fulfill orders as they come in. 

Whether you run a business from your home or want to start one, hopefully you learned something useful! Or maybe just a little insight into how I manage my split life.

What are your favorite apps for staying on task with your side hustle? Add one to the list in the comments below!

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