If you feel that you’re disorganized with the way you manage your tutoring business, let technology lend a helping hand. Being a tutor means having constant interruptions, unexpected cancellations, and other road bumps that keep order at bay. These things could be a challenge for the disorganized tutor, but the organized tutor will always come out on top. The trick is to bring order to the chaos by upgrading your schedule, calendar and book-keeping into the digital age.
I find it difficult to believe that some people still rely on a tradition hand-held calendar to organize and plot out there life. My Google Calendar is an essential part of my daily life. A traditional day planner is a hand held record of events and due dates in our life. A Google Calendar is a base of operations to launch activities, organize them and collaborate on activities with others. You can use it to schedule tutoring sessions, remind yourself of important tasks that need to be accomplished and also give important people in your life more visibility into your calendar.
Some ways to get the most out of your Google Calendar is to create different calendars for different aspects of your life. You can then view each calendar all once, or individually. For example, I have a social calendar that I’ve shared with my husband. This includes any social events we attend, important personal meetings (doctors appointments, social networking events, etc). He can view all the details of my life on his own Google calendar, but he also keeps a Google calendar that he can edit and I can see. Together they form what is collectively, our life together.
For tutors, I recommend also keeping a calendar with your tutoring schedule. Mark times that are reserved or unavailable in your calendar with all the details you need. Then, go into that calendar’s settings and click “Hide Details” – this will conceal any information you’ve added about your schedule except the time blocks you’ve reserved. Instead of “Tutoring with Jimmy on December 14 at 3pm-5pm” anyone who you share your calendar with will see “3pm to 5pm BUSY”. You can then share your calendar with your interested clients and ask them to refer to it when inquiring about when you can tutor their child.
Google Calendar also has a ‘tasks” feature that I’ve found to be quite helpful recently. Tasks can either be tied to a specific date or left floating off to the far hand size. The nifty thing is that each Google task comes with a very self-satisfying check box. It’s also a super helpful tool if you find yourself in need of a reliable task manager that is simple and easy to use and tied directly to your calendar.
Inbox Zero is not a web-tool, it’s a philosophy by Merlin Mann to help make sense of your online life.
Inbox Zero has changed my life. Gone are the days where I felt oppressed and submerged by email. Once I implemented the Inbox Zero system of archiving I was able to get back on top of my email and my life. The concept of Inbox Zero is to reduce your inbox to the coveted 0 emails in your inbox. I get close to 50-100 emails in 1 day, so to this is no easy measure. Problogger Darren Rowse talked about his own personal challenge in trying to turn 100,000 email inbox into a 0 email inbox. The trick I employ is using labeling and filtering to make it easy to find recent email from clients. Gmail makes this task incredibly easy, so I recommend moving your base of operations over to the Gmail system if you can.
The next tip I have for you is to treat every new-coming email that you don’t filter out as spam as an “actionable item”. When I receive a new email, I access it for its qualities. If it’s simply a friendly email where a friend is sending me a link or a website, I might book mark the link and send a friendly comment back. However if it is work-oriented I will write back with my timeline, then proceed to add my deadline and list of actionable tasks to my Google Calendar.
When I’m done stripping the email of all it’s necessary qualities, I click ARCHIVE. This removes it from my inbox, but don’t worry, I can always find it later on in my Gmail search or the appropriate labeled folder for reference.
Keeping track of all your files can be a pain. It’s especially difficult if you’re expected to have a work computer, an at home computer, and also share files with others. Dropbox is already making quite a storm in the start-up world, but I don’t see why it couldn’t also be valuable to tutors who need a place to put files they want to access from anywhere. It’s a secure system and in the event that your computer crashes, you’ll always have a back up file. Just download the software onto your various computers at school, at work, or your lap top. Then, you’ll just need to drag and drop your files into your dropbox folder. Simple enough, right? And it is!
As a freelancer myself, I know the importance of easy-to-do invoicing. That’s why I got myself a subscription to Freshbooks. I’ve found that the service has been incredibly useful in monitoring my time spent on projects and great for personal record-keeping.
Then I had a thought that it would be an exemplary tool for tutors to bill their clients more accurately for their time. You can create multiple client lists using the service. This makes it easy for reoccurring billing and creating new invoices. You can also link your Paypal or Google Checkout account to the service to facilitate easy payments on the client side. Once you’ve emailed the final invoice, clients can view their invoice online and print out their own copy for their records.
They also have time tracking for your iPhone or Desktop which makes it easy to bill your customers for extra and unexpected time, as a tutor I’m absolutely sure you know why that would be valuable to use!
featured photo by dunsire365
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