You can't scale with just a notebook
Updated: Sep 28
Weeks ago, I was out shopping with my daughter for school supplies (she’s now in grade six). She asked me to buy her a spiral notebook. A very tiny notebook. She said she would write all of her homework there.
And she's been pretty good about writing in it (I mean, she's my daughter after all. Ha!).
She writes lists and all that, but often enough, she'll just not mark things off. And she's like, “Oh, I missed that. How did that happen?”
And, you know, she enjoys the crossing off of the task. We all do.
A to-do list is great for a sixth grader.
Not for an entrepreneur or a coach who is trying to scale their business.
Let me explain.
You see. Back in high school, notebooks didn’t work for me. I had them throughout my career, my boss even gave me a notebook because I was always using them. But it didn’t really work for me. And it most certainly didn’t work for me in April 2020 when I received my first smartphone for my business.
I did not have a proper to-do list or a calendar that actually worked for me. Nothing seemed to work. I would write my notes everywhere. I had notebooks and I had little pads. I had solutions from here to Timbuktu, but nothing really worked for me because writing it down is one thing.
The Reason Why Notebooks Can’t Scale
Having to look up your tasks and make sure you’re doing them is so much different.
And I was bad at that.
Because when my inbound leads started climbing and I was having five or more client calls a week, it started to become a mess. I would be flipping through the pages of notebooks trying to figure out where I left off.
And the more clients I got, the more I couldn’t find what I needed for certain clients.
There is no way I could sustain a business like this and scale when my tasks, notes, due dates, goals, and client rosters are all over the place.
And I know, not just from my small story, but from many other client stories, there is no way you can scale your business being unorganized and keeping everything in notebooks.
I started to look for a better way to track my tasks.
Now, there are those who do it in their calendar and that's fine. It's actually more than fine. Especially if you're using a calendar like Google Calendar that integrates with tasks. You can also create an event in your Google Calendar and define it as a task, a reminder, or an actual event. If it's just a task, it won't block off any time in your calendar. It’s just a task that will remind you to do it.
But there’s a draw back to that.
Your Calendar Is Not a Central Location
Let’s use a client named John to help us here (not a real client).
If I know I’m working with John today. I want to be able to pull up information about him before our meeting to see where we left off.
And see that during my last meeting with John, we talked about A, B, and C - which were his action items. And these are my action items and here's how we need to move forward.
Now this is especially important.
If you're working with clients on a 1-on-1 situation, you want to come to the next meeting prepared. You want to know what you talked about in the previous meeting. You want to know where you left off and having it in a notebook just isn't gonna cut it, and having it in five different notebooks definitely isn't gonna cut it.
You want to have one central location where everything is. There are soooo many tools out there, and some of them are so complex and so complicated that sometimes it's just too much.
Well, I’m here to make it simple for you.
My tool of choice is Asana, simply because it is so simple.
A common scenario many coaches face as well as myself: I have to call the client, we have the meeting and then I have to create this document, upload this document, send out an invoice, and double check with my VA to make sure that my next schedule is set. Sound familiar?
If I had a list of all these tasks in a Google document or a Word document, I'd copy it and paste it into Asana. It would automatically take all those lines and create a task list out of that.
And the beauty of doing it in a tool like Asana is I can define a due date.
Once I assign a due date and a task list, I can also assign it to others. Another beautiful thing is I can tag it and I can color code my tags. Plus I get notifications based on the due date.
What I usually do is when I have a new client that starts to work with me, I have an automation that automatically creates a project for the client, with their name and I have all initial tasks automatically assigned based on the project template..
I have a project for each client. My mind is really clear what belongs to which client and what tasks belong to that client. I color code projects and tasks so that they jump out at me and remind me what I need to do.
When it comes to my clients, I want all of my clients, for example, all of the things that have to do with John, in one place and all the things that have to do with Sandy in another place.
Pretty nice, right?
Oh, one more nifty thing. If I want John’s information to interact with Sandy’s information, I can set that up as well.
And all of this is part of the free version of Asana.
Three Primary Asana Advantages for Coaches
What do coaches experience a lot when working with their clients and/or mentees? Questions. Typically clients have so many questions, and different scenarios to work through. Asana helps you remember all of this.
And not just so that you can recall information before your next session.
But more importantly, it’s a great source of content for your marketing materials. When you market for more coaching clients, you need to be able to speak at the level of your clients, and what better way to do that to answer their questions in the form of content for your social media posts or videos?
And here is the thing, it helps you create evergreen products! You’ll take commonly asked questions and turn them into a course, a tip sheet, or a template.
Don’t Ditch The Notebook Just Yet
You don’t have to ditch the notepad. It is helpful to write things down sometimes, but if it doesn’t end up in a place like Asana, you’ll complicate your workflow or even worse, forget or fail to find certain parts of the workflow. Make sure you create time for yourself, daily, to take what's in your notepads and transfer it to Asana.
Nothing will ever replace the pen in your hand and the smell of the notepad. It’s still an incredibly useful tool for on-the-go thoughts, brainstorming sessions, or just a mechanism to get thoughts onto paper quickly. But don’t forget to bring it back to Asana!
If you have any questions about setting up your Asana workflow or other recommendations like Asana email me: email@example.com
NOTE TO READER: Since writing this article, I’ve found that Asana’s customer support leaves something to be desired. I am on the hunt for a new project management tool. I have yet to find one as simple and robust as Asana- It’s hard to beat.
I’m currently looking at Airtable. It’s more like a spreadsheet on speed. But it has its limitations. It's not as good as a spreadsheet nor as good a PM tool as Asana.
I’ll keep ya’ll posted.
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