One of the hardest things about being a freelancer is being solely responsible for managing all projects, deadlines, meetings and calls, invoices and so on. Being disciplined enough to get on with work rather than sitting in your pyjamas doing a Netflix binge can be a challenge when you don’t have a boss managing you.
Of course, doing the actual work your clients pay you to do is just a small part of running your own business, you also have to wear several other ‘hats’ such as admin and finance.
Since becoming a full-time freelance social media manager last summer I’ve taken on a lot of new clients which is great but it brings with it a lot of admin work as well. Sometimes this admin work can take up as much of my time as creating and scheduling social media posts.
I have some go-to apps that I rely on to help keep me organised as a freelancer, here are my 5 most used apps for freelancers to help you stay focused and productive when you work from home…
This is number one on my must-have apps for freelancers. Trello is great for to-do lists and helping to stay organised as a freelancer. You can create boards for different projects or clients, add columns for each stage of the project or day of the week, and then add cards to the different columns for your tasks. In Trello you can set deadlines, colour code different types of tasks, and add notes and attachments. If you don’t finish a task you can alter the deadline and drag to another column. You can use Trello on desktop and mobile so it’s easy to keep track of what you need to do, and you can get reminders via email or notifications if when a deadline is looming. If you collaborate with other people you can also share boards.
Unless you have experience with finance admin it can be quite daunting having to issue invoices and keep track of what has been paid and what’s still outstanding. The free version of Wave has been more than enough to help me issue monthly invoices. It’s really easy to put customisable templates together and email invoices to clients. Once paid, you mark the invoice as paid and can issue a receipt. You can also send reminders for overdue invoices. The paid version lets you sync your bank account for incomings and outgoings and also receive payments via credit card.
If you’re sharing any kind of documents with your clients it’s much easier to use Dropbox rather than emailing back and forth. It’s also helped me to free up space on my laptop as all my files are stored in Dropbox. If you sync it with your laptop and phone you can always find files without having to log in online. I use the paid version to get 2TB of space for only costs £9.99 per month (which you can claim as a business expense on your tax return). You can invite people to share certain folders with you so they can view and edit files.
#4 Focus booster
This is a great app to help you stay focused. I’ve only recently discovered Focus Booster but it’s really useful if you find your attention wandering between tasks, which is very easy to do when you work from home. It helps you to learn how you use your time and how best to be productive going forward using the Pomodoro technique of working in 25 minute bursts. You start by adding your tasks and when you plan to work on them. When you’re ready to start a task, set the timer and work only on that until the alarm goes. It sounds simple but it works. The timer stays on your screen until it finishes and you can block other apps while you are working. You can also keep track of completed tasks and use the stats to work out how much time you are spending on each client. If you have personal taks to get done you can add those as well.
#5 Quality time
My final suggestion of essential apps for freelancers is the Quality Time app. This is great if you find yourself running out of time and wondering where the day has gone. It tracks what you do on your phone so you can see where most of your time is spent. You can view your phone usage in daily and weekly stats. If the app tells you that you’ve spent more time on Instagram than on your emails you know where the problem lies! It can definitely be a bit of an eye-opener.
If you freelance do you use any of these apps? If not, are there any here that you think could help you to be more productive?
Don’t forget to leave any recommendations for apps for freelancers in the comments below if you have them!