This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Insightly.
As much as I loved unplugging from technology while on vacation, the 500+ emails I came back to were overwhelming. I’m still wondering if I let any important messages slip through the cracks.
As a busy entrepreneur, I’ve come to realize that relying on notes in iCal and flagging emails in my ever-growing inbox is not the best strategy. I work with nonprofits, entrepreneurs, small and large businesses. I write for them, conduct presentations and workshops for them, and I coach them. There is a lot of email. There is a lot of calendar scheduling. There is a lot of planning.
Oh, and I blog too. How could I forget about that?
What it all comes down to is that there is a lot to keep track of, and I’m only one person. While I do have a wonderful virtual assistant, she is not in my office every morning bringing me coffee and organizing my day. (If only I could afford that kind of personal assistant!) I still need to be organized to ask for help.
I work with a few different project management systems on jobs on which I collaborate with other people. They are helpful when you have multiple team members working on the same project, particularly if they are not all in the same location or the same company. I’ve looked into using these systems for my own projects and customer relationship management (CRM). The problem is that there is usually a cost associated with these programs, and I have yet to justify the cost. Plus, I had trouble finding a program that could do everything I needed all at once.
And then I found Insightly.
Insightly is a web-based CRM system with a ton of options for busy entrepreneurs like me. I’ve been using the free version for a week, and I’m already feeling more organized. What I really like about Insightly is that you can fully integrate your emails with the program. When you sign up for an account, you get a specific email to use when you want to include the correspondence in your Insightly dashboard. So, when you email a contact and copy the email to your Insightly address, it appears in your Emails tab. From there, you can create an Opportunity, Project or Task. In addition, Insightly will automatically add the contact to your Contacts list and save any files that were attached to the email. It will even search for that contact’s social media profiles!
I immediately started to organize my emails and contacts into Opportunities. As you can see from the screenshot below, I was pretty busy last week! (I blacked out my clients and partners’ names as many of these projects are pending.) I further categorized my Opportunities according to the work each job would entail. I made categories for Writing, Consulting and the Blog.
Once I created my Opportunities, they were assigned specific email addresses. When I had further correspondence with my contacts from each Opportunity, I could forward messages to the specific address for that Opportunity and see everything in one place. I had phone conversations and made notes in a few of my Opportunities. In others, I created events for meetings and tasks (with reminders) so that I would remember to follow up or write a post by a certain date. I added files, including a proposed agreement and artwork for a post. There’s at least one Opportunity that I will (hopefully) turn into a Project soon and invite other collaborators to participate in the Project.
Did you catch that these features are all free in Insightly? And it’s not one of those limited free trial versions of the real program. You can check out Insightly’s pricing and see how the free version is a great starter CRM system for entrepreneurs, small business owners and bloggers. (You can also read about how Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life used Insightly to help manage some of her important blog tasks.)
I’m barely scratching the surface of what Insightly can do in this post. Honestly, I keep finding new things I can do with it each day I use it. To find out what it can do for you, I strongly suggest signing up for a free account. For most of us, it’s all you need to keep yourself organized, sane and on top of your contacts and projects.
How do you keep yourself organized?
While I was compensated to review Insightly, the opinions and words are all mine.