7 Ways To Stay Organised When Tutoring Online
To have a successful online tutoring business, you need to be organised. With these 7 simple hacks, you can save time, find everything when you need it and have a seamless online tutoring experience for both you and your students.
Organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. - A.A. Milne
1. Bookmark favourites
First up, bookmarks. There are a handful of websites I use everyday when tutoring online and the last thing I want to be doing is typing in the URL every 5 minutes, especially in the middle of a lesson. Here's a screenshot of part of my favourites bar at the top of my computer screen.
I've got a link to the prices page on my website for when I need to quickly share the link with a potential or existing student who wants to buy lessons. Next is my online dictionary, which I frequently use throughout the lesson. The clock and time links help me quickly navigate the time zones around the world. These are essential tools for staying organised when scheduling lessons for international students.
A link to my payment provider Selz helps me keep a tab on payments and create new payment links for custom courses. Next to that is a link to my Gmail inbox and my most frequently visited site of all, Google Drive. This is where I create, store and share my online lesson materials. I have about 20 bookmark favourites in total and they all save me time every day.
2. Calendar reminders
Next up is my calendar. I'd be in all sorts of trouble if I didn't stay on top of my lesson schedule with calendar reminders. Everything I add to my calendar from lessons to weekly and monthly tasks and even my lunch break has a visual reminder that pops up on my screen.
Running a successful online tutoring business requires a range of different activities so it can be easy to lose track of time and be late for a lesson. I use my Mac calendar to schedule everything but you can use a Google calendar or your pre-installed PC calendar. Whichever option you choose, stay organised by adding lots of reminders.
3. Google Drive folders
I create most of my lesson materials using Google Slides and have built up a large bank of lessons over the years. All of these materials are stored in one Google Drive, which comes free with your Google account. Like any online file, the key to staying organised and getting the most out of this amazing free application is to create some folders. I simply create a new folder for each of my students and keep all of their lessons in named folders. Do this from the beginning and you'll save hours searching for past lesson materials.
4. Lessons spreadsheet
At the end of every month, I transfer all of my lesson materials into each student folder on my Google drive and make a record of the number and content of each lesson in a Spreadsheet. This helps me keep track of how many lessons each student has had and what I've taught them. I regularly refer to this spreadsheet throughout the week and it helps me know when it's time to encourage existing students to buy more lessons. One or two lessons before the end of each booking, I'll add a reminder in my schedule to make another sale. That way I never teach more lessons than my students have paid for and I can keep my students updated about how many lessons they have left.
5. Skype favourites
Over time my Skype account has grown to the point where I now have 100s of contacts. It's imperative that I can quickly find the right student and initiate a Skype call within seconds, particularly if I've scheduled back to back lessons with different students. This is where creating a favourites list within your contacts is a massive time saver and helps me identify which students I'm currently teaching and which ones I want to stay in contact with for future lessons. To do this, just click the star next to your contact's name and this will automatically add them to your favourite bar on the left-hand side of your Skype account. I also like to edit the name to something that's easy to identify, particularity if it's written in Arabic or Chinese!
6. Folders for offline documents
Just like with my Google Drive, I like to keep everything organised on my computer by creating folders for all of my offline documents. There's nothing worse than not being able to find a document when you really need it. To keep things simple, I've created separate folders for each area of the business like my finances, website and students. Organised documents means less time wasted and more time earning money from tutoring online.
7. Contacts in Gmail
There are some bits of information that I need multiple times per day in order to tutor online. One of those is student emails when I'm sharing a lesson from Google Drive. Instead of typing their email address every single time or searching for it on a spreadsheet somewhere, I create a contact within my Gmail account, which is automatically linked to my Google Drive. This means that when I click 'share' on my Google Slides lesson and type my student's first name, their email address automatically pops up and I can send the lesson to them. I know the slides are guaranteed to go to the right email address and each lesson can start smoothly and promptly as soon as the student answers my call.
For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned. - Benjamin Franklin
My number 1 tip for staying organised
Some of these organisation hacks only take seconds to implement but can save you hours over the months and years. My number 1 tip for making them work for you and your online tutoring business is to make a habit of doing each one on a regular basis. Every time you schedule a lesson, add a reminder. Every time you get a new student, create a folder for them in your Google Drive and add them to your spreadsheet. Before their first lesson, add their Skype contact to your favourites list, create a contact for them in Gmail and make a folder for any offline documents with their name on.
Over to you
If you haven't already set up any bookmark favourites on your computer, do it now.
Go to each of the top 5 to 10 websites or applications that you use every day, click 'Bookmarks' and add the bookmark to your favourites.
Done it? Good. Now, every time you click on that link, instead of typing out the full website address, you'll go straight to the site and be happy you spent 5 minutes getting organised.
Got any tips or other ways of staying organised when tutoring online? Let me know in the comments box below.