3 Time-Saving Tools to Streamline Your Business Life

Before we jump into the cool article I have for you today, I wanted to share with you a few funny experiences I recently had…

For those of you at Yanik Silver’s Underground Online Seminar, you know it’s always a first-class experience from beginning to end.  And this year was no exception.

But the best part of the event is the evening networking (read: hanging around the bar until late into the night). 😉

This year when we came back from the speakers’ dinner on Sunday night, it was basically ‘last call’ for drinks at midnight.  (Washington, DC laws stink).   I egged on my good buddies Perry Belcher and Jimmy Sweeney who collectively ordered 150 beers for all of us. (Plus 20 more beers I got from the manager waaaaay past last call.)  Yes, one hundred seventy beers total. That way we could keep the party going all night.

Now if you’ve never seen 170 beers in one spot, it’s quite a site to behold.  Here’s a snapshot of the first 90 they brought out…

Power Hour at the Underground Online Marketing Event

Unfortunately, a lot of the beers were just sitting there not getting touched.  So I thought back to my college days…and resurrected a tried and true drinking game: Power Hour.  Basically, you have one shot of beer each minute.  For an hour.

Normally it’s simple…except when people have been drinking for a few hours beforehand.  Needless to say we gave the hotel quite some entertainment that evening.  Here’s a picture of me calling out the next shot at this new Underground tradition…

Chris Zavadowski leading the group in Power Hour at Yanik Silver's Underground Event

And here’s what happens later in the evening…

Yes, that’s Perry Belcher with a pair of Speedo’s on his head, and an ice bucket on my head.  What’s a business without a lot of FUN mixed in too, right?

We had a blast (in fact – if you search Twitter you can see how many people were talking about Power Hour and/or cursing me the next day)! If you’re coming to the seminar next year let me know.  You’re officially invited to “Power Hour – Part Deux” on Sunday evening.  🙂

Another awesome experience just happened a few days ago…

If you’ve been a student of mine for any length of time, you probably know how active I am in the arts — especially theater and music.  Each year, my company donates thousands to the arts around the country, particularly to the programs at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Well, as a perk this year, I was just invited to Senator Ted Kennedy’s birthday party at the Kennedy Center featuring stars from Bill Cosby to John Williams to Bernadette Peters to James Taylor.  This was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in a looooong time.  Plus, as an added bonus, John McCain, the Vice President, and Michelle Obama were there too.  (Security was pretty nuts everywhere!)

Funny ending – Bill Cosby came out and remarked how off-key ‘Happy Birthday’ is usually sung everywhere, so he said we needed someone to set the proper key for us.  Then he said he fortunately just happened to have the best key-setter around…the President of the United States.  To our surprise, Obama himself came out onto the stage to lead everyone in Happy Birthday.

Fortunately, this evening didn’t have any political overtones (phew!) but was done for the sole purpose of honoring a man who has spent his entire life serving his country.

I had killer seats just 11 rows from the front, so here’s some bootlegged video I shot at the end of the evening you might find interesting…

Okay – that’s enough ‘FUN’ stuff for now. I’m off to Vegas next week, so I’m sure there will be more fun stories to share. 😉

Now, onto the business part…

As your entrepreneurial life takes off, you’ll find your business slowly getting cluttered with repetitive, frustrating (and often time-wasting) tasks. It’s all too easy to lose hours a week – or hours a DAY – getting stuck on inefficient things, instead of pouring your energy into profit-producing activities.

Which means, it’s critical you recognize the “time vampires”, as Dan Kennedy calls them, and put an end to them once and for all. Streamline your business before they start cluttering your day.

That’s why I’m a *huge* fan of outsourcing these tasks to different tools and systems so you can have more fun (and time) in your life. So with “Organize Your Home Office Day” being celebrated again this week, I thought it would be the perfect time to share 3 more of my favorite kick-butt, time-saving tools with you.

Streamlining Tool #1:
Go Paperless with Your Own Virtual “Box”

Last year when my Dad’s cancer popped up, we quickly had a growing pile of doctors’ reports, test results, audio recordings from each appointment, pictures from each cycle, Flip videos and more.

The problem was, how the heck do we centralize everything?  Enter Box.net!

Instead of passing around thumb drives, emails and making endless copies of paper, I simply set up a family Box account.  Everything got centralized online, with secure, controlled access.  In fact, I now scan everything and ‘file’ it away online for easy reference.  Then just shred the hardcopy…and viola!  Less clutter!

Need to send a link to just one file?  That’s easy.  Want to share a whole directory?  No problem.  What about embedding pictures in a webpage that stream from Box.net. Super-simple.  In fact I now use it to collaborate with Yanik Silver on MaverickBusinessInsiders.com as well as my own internal company projects.

It’s hard to quickly describe how powerful and easy Box.net is for collaboration, but I highly encourage you to get an account and check it out yourself. I use and recommend the “Individual” Box.net account, but a totally free “Lite” account gives you 1GB of storage to get started.

Streamlining Tool #2:
Set-it-and-Forget-it Painless Backups

Let’s be honest, if you are truly running a business, you can’t afford to lose your data, emails, client records and more.  Plus you probably don’t want to lose any of your family photos, videos or personal memories.

For the longest time, I used external backup drives to create copies of all my files in case my main computer locked up or crashed.  But it was a pain in the butt to remember to backup!  Plus what happens if I had a fire, flood or theft?  I’d still end up losing everything.  Ouch!

That’s why I decided to go with a secure off-site backup solution that automatically backs up ALL my files, hard-drives and more…without me having to lift a finger.

I spent quite a while researching solutions and settled on Mozy. Just install the small little program (PC or Mac – doesn’t matter), and follow the setup instructions and you’re good to go.  It runs quietly in the background while you work or sleep.

If you ever need to restore anything, just call up Mozy to get DVDs with your files overnighted to you or hop online and you can instantly access any of your files.

Like the other tools I’m recommending, Mozy has a free level of service, but I recommend you get the yearly plan.  Heck – 2 years of UNLIMITED off-site storage for your computer is only around $100.  Well worth it to have all your files and data constantly backed up so you can sleep soundly each night!

Streamlining Tool #3:
Down and Dirty ‘Getting Started’ Time-Saver: ShortKeys

Do you find yourself repeating the same things over and over again in emails?

Do the math and you’ll see you’re losing days, if not weeks, each year typing the same thing. 10 emails a day x 2 minutes typing up a response x 5 days a week x 50 work weeks a year = over 83 hours spent typing up similar responses to customers, team members, vendors and more each year. That’s at least two FULL work weeks totally lost to email!

No doubt, you can find a better use of your time as a business owner than to be constantly repeating yourself. Fortunately there’s a way to stop typing the same thing over and over again…with predefined responses.

There are a few different ways to implement a predefined response system.  If you’re just starting out – you can simply use templates or stationary in your email program.  In my email client, Eudora, my first year online I used stationary templates to handle seminar follow-ups, login details, bonuses, etc.  As soon as I got an assistant, I handed the templates over to her.

Now that’s the ‘ghetto’ version.  🙂

If you want a slicker, faster method I recommend a program called ShortKeys.  Essentially it’s a text replacement tool.  You create ShortKeys (phrases, words, etc.) in the program, along with the full response you want associated with them.

Then whenever you type the ShortKey *anywhere* in Windows, the program will instantly replace it with the full block of text associated with it.  So “.refund” could get replaced with your standard longer response.  There’s a free lite version of the software worth checking out.

(BONUS Tip: Once your business gets cranking, as soon as possible you’ll want to institute a web-based help desk and funnel every customer contact through there.  Not only can you set it up with predefined responses, but you can have a big team collaborating, provide a knowledgebase for your clients and provide much better service all around.  Check out our help desk at instantmlmsupport.com — the software I recommend to run it is at Kayako.com)

So there you have it – three (well four) new tools to streamline your life. Give them a try so you can spend less time bogged down in clutter and time-wasters, and more time making the $$$ and having fun in your business and life!

Please leave your thoughts below and also share some of YOUR favorite tools and tricks to cut back on the clutter and organize your life better. Help make this article even more useful!

– Chris 🙂

P.S. – If you enjoyed this post, please use the “ShareThis” link below to share it on Facebook with your friends, or Twitter about it to your followers.


  1. Raju says:

    Hi Chris,

    Cheers!!! It was really funny.

    I found the three streamline tools really interesting and time-saving. I will implement it in my life and see if I can make lots of $$$ out of it.

    Thanks once again and hope you will have lots of fun in Vegas.


  2. Shashank says:

    Hey Chris,

    Fantastic streamline tools to make our life easier and faster. Hope it will help me to make lots of money.



  3. Raju and Shashank – thanks for your kind words. Please be sure to report back with your results once you start using the tools. I love outsourcing and moving things off my plate – I think you’ll dig them!

  4. Latha Jenkins says:

    Hi Chris,


    I hope you had a great time with Perry Belcher and Jimmy Sweeney and even in Senator Ted Kennedy’s birthday party.

    These three streamline tools really interesting and time-saving.


  5. Mark says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve Been looking for an offline backup source, ever since my computer crashed last Dec. & now you gave it to me. One other simplw program I can not live without is RoboForm.

  6. Latha – thanks. I did have a BLAST with Perry and Jimmy – in fact, I’m getting read to celebrate my birthday with these guys and I know it’ll be a VERY fun time. They are close friends. 🙂

    Mark – very welcome! I’ve actually set up my parents and executive assistant with Mozy. Don’t want them to lose any critical data either.

    Re: Roboform…I agree. A lot of people talked about that last year. I guess I should included it at some point. (I LOVE it – I get all my team members using it right away).

    Thanks for your comments!

    Chris 🙂

  7. Chris , I enjoyed reading your blog. It was nice meeting you at UG5 . I will bring a speedo for you next year!!

  8. Dan M says:

    Hi Chris,

    Sounds like you were having a lot of fun at that dinner. Thanks for the great tips. I can see a lot of value in using tools like Mozy


  9. Hi Whitney – thanks for your kind words. It was great meeting you in person at UG5 also – definitely looking forward to next year. And are you serious about a custom speedo? That would rock! 🙂

    Dan – oh yeah, we always have a blast at events, especially Yanik Silver seminars – he just attracts awesome people to everything he does. And you’re welcome….hope you enjoy Mozy as much as I have. Love it!

    Chris 🙂

  10. Dorothy says:

    Hi, Chris.

    Great recommendations. I definitely will try the Box.net.

    Oh, looks like if was great fun for all at the Underground and the B-day celebration. Lucky you.

    Continued success,

  11. Hi Chris,

    You’re such a party animal!

    Thanks for the great tips. I just started using continuous online backup a couple weeks ago too, using a very similar service to Mozy, it’s called Carbonite. I LOVE it knowing that the growing pile of webinar videos are safe practically as soon as they’ve been recorded!

    You always have excellent time-saving tips. Keep ’em coming! THANKS! 🙂


  12. HI Dorothy – yes, it was a blast. You should definitely come out to the seminar next year! You learn a lot and have a LOT of fun (and no, you don’t have to drink to have fun their!) Let me know how Box works out for you!

    Hi Gabrielle…good to see your face here. Glad you’re using an offsite backup too…it makes a world of difference! I think it’s truly the only reliable way to go. Thanks for your kind words too…appreciate you being here!

    Thanks ladies!

    Chris 🙂

  13. paris hutchinson says:

    great useful info thanks

  14. Eric Su says:

    I think roboform can save a lot of time too! highly recommended.

  15. Robert says:

    Hello Chris,
    What is the difference between MOZY vs. CARBONITE?

    Thank you for the great time saving tips.

    Best regards,
    Robert McCoy

  16. Thanks Paris and Eric. Yes, Roboform is a must-have, too.

    Robert – Carbonite is a similar service but I haven’t personally used it. However, I can tell you I did a lot of online research into Carbonite vs. Mozy – that’s why i signed up with Mozy..that service was the winner for me. But either one would probably do the trick (again, I have no personal experience with Carb.)

    BTW – a tip for Mozy – when you set it up, don’t use their default key they offer – use Roboform or something similar to generate a crazy-long key. (I did a 1,000 character key I think with Roboform). Then save that key on a thumbdrive and put it in a safe deposit box or another location. Then your data is totally secure – and only YOU can access the backups.

    Hope that helps,

    Chris 🙂

  17. Jim says:

    Hi Chris,

    What a great site! I just spent the last hour viewing your site, so much valuable information, I can’t wait to come back and read more. With all the parties how do you find time to work?

    Thanks for all the info,


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