I love chatting about different software tools (or pen-and-paper tools) with other solopreneurs or freelancers. I think it’s because part of the reason I work for myself is that I have a super clear idea of how I want my life to be—and how I want to run it. So, I’m constantly trying out and talking about different tools that might be exactly what I need to do things my way.
Workflow software, accounting software, calendar tools, survey-makers, editing tools, email plugins, the all-in-ones (looking at you, HoneyBook) …you name it, I’ve tried it. But there is still one tool that I think has helped me more than anything else, and it’s surprisingly pretty simple.
Maybe you already use it yourself, so if you do, you’re welcome to stop reading after the following sentence: The one tool that has saved me so much stress as a solopreneur is Boomerang for Gmail.
Boomerang for Gmail is a plugin that you add to your internet browser. It’s free up to a certain number of emails per month. But the unlimited version is only fifteen dollars a month, so even with the paid version, it’s easily one of my cheaper tools.
Here’s why Boomerang for Gmail is the admin assistant you need as a solopreneur:
You no longer have to remember which emails need to be followed up on.
Every time I send an email, I choose a specific day and time to “boomerang” the email back to my inbox if there’s no response by then. Before Boomerang, I had to go through my sent messages every week to see if there were emails that I needed to check in on because the recipient hadn’t responded.
Following up is such an important part of seeming like you have your shit together, like you really do want that client, and that you just care about your work. But it’s a lot of work to keep track of all the emails you send.
Having emails come back into my inbox in a few hours, two days, four weeks, etc. when there’s no reply has allowed me to forget about the emails I send until the moment I need to follow up. No longer am I trying to keep it all in my head.
While regular Gmail does include a helpful “nudge” feature, which will remind you of emails that haven’t been responded to, you can’t select the exact date you want to be reminded about an unanswered email.
You can schedule emails
I want to have in-office hours, but sometimes I find myself working at 10 at night or during a weekend morning. Hazards of the solopreneur life. Often, this work is the pesky admin stuff that I can do without thinking too hard…. like answering emails.
But I don’t want clients to think they can expect replies at all hours of the day. I also don’t want to seem unprofessional by looking like I’m squeezing in work during the dark hours of the night.
Enter Boomerang. You can compose emails in Gmail and schedule them to send at whatever date and time you want. For me, I often find myself replying to an email Saturday morning but having it send Monday morning.
You can pause your inbox in one click
The Pause Inbox function is like the vacation responder feature that is built into Gmail.
However, it’s much easier to access, appearing as a button right beside your inbox. You can pre-set your auto-response, set a time for your inbox to automatically un-pause (such as when Monday morning rolls around), or just have it paused indefinitely until you click the button again.
I like this feature not only because it’s easier than going into settings and enabling the vacation responder, but also because, on a subconscious level, it makes me feel better. Choosing the “vacation responder” made me feel a tiny bit guilty if I wasn’t actually going on vacation but just needed to not get any emails during my work time from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There are a few other features that come with Boomerang for Gmail, but these are the three that have seriously lightened my stress. Yeah, it’s simple stuff, but it takes away a lot of the mental to-do lists, administrative headaches, and timing issues that come with running a business on your own.
Okay, so I’ve said my piece. Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite software tool to help you run your business?
Content courtesy of Krista Walsh, creative copywriting for purpose-driven companies and passionate people
Contributing Author, Krista Walsh
Krista Walsh writes website copy, blog posts, and product descriptions for small eCommerce companies and service-based solopreneurs. Her writing and messaging strategies help her clients speak to their customers’ values and emotions, for meaningful sales.
In her free time, she writes about purpose-driven business and freelance life at kristawalshcopywriter.com. On the off chance she’s not writing, she’s volunteering to walk the big ole’ dogs over at the Dog Café LA or watching (pretty bad honestly) TV dramas on Netflix.
Connect with Krista through her website, Krista Walsh Copywriter