If you’re ready to join 53 million Americans working as a Freelancer, you should have the tools needed to manage your time and increase your productivity.
While making your own hours, determining your own pay and choosing what work to take on sounds good, the ups and downs and instability of a business can be overwhelming. On any given day, you’re wearing 20 different hats –Web Developer, Human Resource Manager, Marketer, Public Relations Pro—the list goes on. Without using tools focused on the day-to-day tactics needed to keep your business going, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
The bad news is there is no substitute for discipline and hard work. But the good news is, thanks to the Internet there are plenty of tools available to help you succeed. So, whether you’re just about to embark on your professional career, or have been working independently for many years here are some tools to add to your freelance toolbox:
If you’re like most of us, whether you’re working on your computer at home or at work you’re easily distracted. Besides turning off your notifications, such as email and chat, there are several applications such as Leechblock for Firefox and StayFocused for Chrome designed to help you avoid the most common timewasters and remind you to get back to work when you try to visit them.
Focus Booster -an online timer made just for freelancers. This method relies on having 25 minute periods of work followed by 5 minute periods of rest, which helps you segment tasks and get them done one at a time.
Manage Project Activities
Since you’re managing your own projects, organization is key.
Evernote – a popular online tool that allows you to capture ideas, audio clips, photos, receipts, and other miscellaneous files from your computer or phone. Then you can sync them all for easy retrieval and edits no matter where you are.
Asana – is a beautifully designed simple collaboration tool. Its’ free to use for up to 15 people. You can manage your tasks, projects, and communication in one place. And instead of sending email, you can create task for work you need to do or need a team member to do and set automatic updates about the task.
Track Spending & Expenses
As a freelancer, keeping track of your spending and expenses is critical, especially for your yearly tax visit to Uncle Sam.
FreeAgent – Bookkeeping and invoicing application specifically designed for small businesses and freelancers. From expenses and time tracking, to estimates and invoices, FreeAgent helps you take care of business day-to-day. You can also set up and configure tax rates for multiple states.
Shoeboxed – Turn receipts and business cards into expense reports, accounting entries and contact lists. And,Shoebox is also accepted by the IRS, so you can use it for your business without worry.
Track and Report Time
When you’re initially starting out as a Freelancer it can be hard to determine how long it takes to do a certain task or keep track of the time your spending on an activity. Tracking your time with the tools below will help you better forecast project work in the future.
Toggl – Manually keep track of how long it takes you to do a certain task with Toggl. An online version or a Windows-based download is also available that you can use on your desktop.
Tickspot.com – Allows you to keep track of your time spent on a project and even see how close you are to using up your client’s allotted budget.
Klok – Another time tracking tool developed with the Freelancer in mind. As you keep track of your time spent on multiple projects you can generate multiple reports based off of the information entered.