Productivity tools are very essential for freelancers. You don’t have to be chained to your desk or chained to your computer, and you don’t have to work all the time, either.
There are plenty of productivity tools for freelancers out there that can
- help you manage your time more effectively,
- keep you on task with your projects, and
- help you get paid faster by clients
So you can spend more time doing what you love (and earning more money).
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Pomodoro Technique, that fancy new way to boost your productivity that has everyone so excited lately.
The basic idea behind it is this: you set a timer to 25 minutes, work on one task with all your might for those 25 minutes, and then take a 5-minute break.
The article has 10 productivity tools that are particularly useful for freelancers and designers that want to improve their overall productivity at work and at home.
Why do you need productivity tools as a freelancer?
As a freelancer, it’s your job to be as productive as possible.
That doesn’t mean you have to work long hours – although some freelancers do – it does mean that you can’t waste time or fall into bad habits.
If you ever find yourself in a slump where nothing is getting done, try using productivity tools to help get back on track.
What are the best productivity tools for freelancers?
People who work for themselves and for companies alike can be challenged with keeping their work lives organized.
If you’re a freelancer or if you just spend a lot of time at your computer, there are certain tools that can help make your day-to-day life easier.
While these tools will differ depending on what type of software you need, there are several software programs out there designed to increase productivity.
Here are some of our favorite productivity tools
The Best Planning Tool – Youtrack
Planning is essential for success.
No matter your goals, Youtrack gives you a way to track your progress on a daily basis so that you can see what you’re accomplishing and where improvements can be made.
You’ll also have an overview of your tasks organized by the project in one place.
This allows you to quickly get a snapshot of what’s coming up next
So that you know if you need to reallocate time or if new projects should be added.
That way, no matter how many projects are going on at once, or how quickly things change in your business, Youtrack helps keep everything running smoothly.
The Best Email Management Tool – Uptask
If you’re looking for a tool that will make it easier to stay on top of your inbox, try Uptask.
It’s a time-tracking app, like Harvest or Toggl, but all it does is run in your browser and allows you to track projects and tasks directly from your email.
Just set up an email filter that sends everything related to a project into Uptask, assigns yourself to it, and then gets back to work.
This way there’s no Inbox Zero necessary – just close out emails when they need attention and keep them organized with Uptask tracking.
Your inbox can now act as nothing more than an easy-to-read dashboard of your day’s (or week’s) work.
The Best Project Management Software – Asana
Managing your projects is essential to being productive, especially if you have a bunch of stuff on your plate.
Luckily, there are hundreds of time management software options out there, so finding one that works for you is simple.
Many freelancers and designers prefer Asana, which enables them to collaborate with clients in real-time.
It’s also super simple to use and incredibly easy to learn—because it has a user-friendly interface and an intuitive navigation system.
Don’t let its ease of use fool you though
Once you get familiar with it, you can use Asana for almost any type of project planning or collaboration.
The Best Time Recording Tool – Toggl
There are plenty of tools that can help you be more productive, but one of my favorites is Toggl.
It’s a completely free and open-source time recording tool with great features.
Not only does it allow for tracking your productivity, but it also provides information about team productivity and time spent on projects.
The free version doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles
So if you want to pay for extra features like detailed project reporting and integrations, they charge $5 per month or $45 per year.
But as far as basic tracking goes, Toggl is hard to beat at no cost to you.
The Best Spreadsheet Management Tool – Google Sheets
The best way to manage your budget is to keep close tabs on how much you spend.
The spreadsheet management software Google Sheets helps you stay organized and on top of your finances.
To use it, just enter your expenses into one spreadsheet, and then create a separate tab for each expense category (like rent, food, gas, etc.)
So that you can see how much money goes into those different sections of your life.
Even better: It syncs across all devices so there’s no need to manually update spreadsheets on multiple computers.
Bonus: If you’re already using Google Drive (or other Google apps), there are no additional costs for using Google Sheets.
The Best Note-Taking Software – Evernote
Evernote is an excellent way to take and organize notes.
You can do all sorts of things with your notes, from recording voice memos to saving images.
The best part about Evernote is that you can access your notes from just about anywhere.
Some users even call it a second brain because they find it so indispensable.
It’s easy to use and will instantly improve your productivity as a freelancer or designer.
Even better, it’s completely free!
The Best Resource Generator – Trello
Trello is one of my favorite tools.
In addition to being an online project management application, Trello also integrates with Google Drive and Dropbox
Which makes it a great place to organize your assets as well.
Each card (task) has checklists for things like In Progress and Done, which can be used for time tracking purposes as well.
One of my favorite features is that you can make cards public;
Making them visible to people who might not have access to view them otherwise (like a client or editor).
I use Trello both personally and professionally;
If you need a task-management solution that can be shared across teams, Trello is a great choice.
The Best Personal Information Manager – MS OneNote
OneNote is by far my favorite productivity tools for freelancers.
It is an easy-to-use personal information manager that allows you to:
- take notes,
- create to-do lists, and
- save web clippings, pictures, and documents all in one place.
Instead of keeping a messy set of notes on your desktop or trying to keep up with a bunch of sticky notes
OneNote keeps everything organized.
Plus, it syncs across multiple devices making it easy to access no matter where you are
And let’s face it, we’re always on our phones these days so that’s handy.
Of course, there are other great PIMS out there but personally, I have never found anything as intuitive as OneNote.
The Best Time Logging Tool – RescueTime
Most people say they work 9 to 5—but who really sticks to that schedule?
The challenge is that it’s tough to get a handle on how much time you actually spend working versus frittering away your day on other distractions.
RescueTime tracks your activity and categorizes it, so you can see how much time you spent social networking, shopping, or generally just goofing off.
This approach isn’t right for everyone, but if you find yourself wondering why there’s never enough time in your day, RescueTime can help.
Note: This is a totally free service with some premium add-ons available.
There are a lot of tools available for freelancers and designers to help them become more productive, including free resources like RescueTime.
Every tool on our list has its own set of pros and cons (or is free vs paid)
So it’s up to you to choose what works best for your individual situation.
In order to increase productivity, however;
Freelancers and designers should make sure they take advantage of software that helps streamline their processes.
Whether you’re a designer looking for image editing tools or a freelancer looking for project management software
I hope you’ve found something on our list that will suit your needs—and your budget.
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