Get organized and reduce stress, part 1: Airtable
This five-part series was inspired from a comment by Rob Hatch in Chris Brogan’s Owner Insider community. If you have your own business and want to be part of a great community, join here. And, for a complete breakdown of all five parts, watch the video below.
Planet of the apps
I love apps. I love anything that helps me get organized. My name is Seth, and I am an app addict. Earlier this week (as I am writing this), a personal friend of mine wrote a comment in an email thread saying, “I am sure there is a simpler way, but Seth likes to use technology.” Of course, this came across as deprecating to me, and, at the same time, it brought me to the point that this person (like many whom I’ve seen make similar remarks) doesn’t see the big picture.
A few months ago, a client of mine was sharing his screen with me at a Zoom meeting, and as I saw him updating his “list” of things to do in a list of bullet points in the description of a Microsoft Outlook Task, I couldn’t help myself. Before I could blurt it out, he admitted that he needed a better system.
So, I said, “You know, in about an hour, I can show you something that will help you get all of this really well organized, so it will reduce a ton of stress.”
His answer? “I don’t have time right now, but definitely at some point in the future.”
It’s like going to the Dr. and the doctor asks, “Where does it hurt?” So, you tell him exactly where it hurts, and she offers you an ointment that is guaranteed to get rid of the pain and you tell her, “Not right now. I don’t have time to put on an ointment.”
If you are going along in your day, you might find yourself thinking, “There has to be a better way,” or “I need to get organized,” or “I am completely overwhelmed and I have no idea where to start.”
Meanwhile, I just stopped and checked Facebook, and, sure enough, there’s nothing worthwhile going on there! Isn’t it funny how we can distract ourselves? Right smack in the middle of writing an article, my mind will serve up the thought, “I should check Facebook. I’m lonely. I want someone to talk to!”
What a stupid idea! I’m working on something really good here, and I’m going to screw it up by checking Facebook?
I’ve learned that the solution to this is structure! I’ve organized my day around exactly what I want to accomplish. Now that I know that, it only took 5 seconds of being on Facebook to realize something very important. This isn’t making me any money!
Let’s look at 5 tools to get organized and reduce stress, starting today.
When I am feeling overwhelmed, once I start getting organized around what I need to do and how to prioritize, I immediately feel better, even though I haven’t actually done anything. It’s not about getting things done; it’s about moving forward so that I WILL get things done.
Warning! These apps will only work if you have a process around using them.
Instead of giving you “another” tutorial on how to use these apps, I am going to do what Rob suggests and show you how I am using these apps daily.
In part 1 of this five-part series, we will explore Airtable. Stay tuned for parts 2-5! And, click any images in this article for a closer look.
For starters, I am using Airtable to manage my stuff in Airtable. Sounds pretty circular right? With Airtable, each workspace is a separate billing unit, so if you want to have the same person collaborating in Airtable bases across multiple workspaces, you are paying for that user multiple times – once for each workspace they are in.
So, I created an Airtable base with a category for workspaces that I use to organize my bases. This is new, so I don’t have a lot here yet, but this is what it looks like (again, click any images in this article for a closer look):
I have a lot more “bases” in my Airtable account, but these are the main ones I need access to on a regular basis.
This is part of a larger “base,” of course, which is for ALL of my bookmarks. After a while, Chrome’s bookmarking capabilities weren’t enough. I needed a way to organize EVERYTHING from places in my website’s navigation that I wanted quick access to, to articles I wanted to clip and read later.
And, because I write a lot of content, you can see below that I have a “view” for “emojis,” although I just recently read that the use of emojis apparently dates me in the eyes of Millennials and Gen Z folks. 🤣🤓🤣🤓
My Kajabi view is all about getting super fast access to links I need frequently, either for me to work on something, or to send to someone who’s looking for a particular resource on my site. There are certain resources that I am frequently asked about, including Bulletproof Bookkeeping with QuickBooks Online.
This reduces stress because I don’t lose time digging these links up when I need them. With this process, it takes me a few seconds to find a link and copy and paste it wherever I need it.
I recently started working out (again 🙄), and this time I have a trainer who works remotely. His name is Aaron Rashkin, in case you want an amazing trainer and all-around health and lifestyle coach! Each day, Aaron drops a workout for me in a Google Doc, but I wanted something with a little more detailed tracking. So, while I work with Aaron in his Google Doc, I also copy the workouts into my Airtable “workouts” base.
The mobile app for this is very good. As I do each exercise, I log the set, weight, and # of reps I did. Then, I mark it complete and it disappears from my workout to do and moves to the “completed” view.
The exercises are in their own datatable. This means that each time I list an exercise in the workouts table, it’s the same record. This makes it easy to drill into an exercise and see the complete history of how I’ve done with it – the increase in weight and reps.
In short, this gives me really easy access to some really useful data.
Of course, Airtable can be custom built into a robust project management app. Yes, there are apps that do this well “out of the box” so to speak, such as ClickUP, but the advantage here is that you get to build it to do exactly what you want.
I don’t use it this way, but you can see below an example of a database I built for a sample accounting firm, and how you can use Airtable to track everything.
Click here to view Umbrella Accounting.
I do a lot of 1:1 and in group coaching, where I help people with everything from QuickBooks® Online to setting up their processes, implementing, and training them, using tools such as Airtable.
I have this entire process automated, so when someone signs up for sessions on my website, and then schedules a session, Zapier pushes that information to my Airtable log. Each client has a view carved out for them, which they can access to download the recording of their session, as well as see how much time they have and more.
By the way, do you have dogs? If so, check out Swiftpaws. I haven’t set mine up yet, but my wife and I will very soon.
Airtable in short
In short, Airtable is a tool that lets you build your own database, without having to know any code. It can do some really slick stuff, from automations to geo-mapping, and well … if you can conceive it, you can probably create it.