So, you’re a freelancer? Or, are you thinking about going full-time freelancing? Then can I guess one of your most dreadful concerns? Maybe is it that you know you’re just about to become responsible for every single department of your whole business? Oh, yeah, plus you’ll have to execute the work itself, let’s not forget that. Did I just do a good job scaring the crap out of ya? Great!
Then, let me just tell you that in the U.S.A., 34% of the entire workforce is made of freelancers, while in Europe, the growth in freelancers since 2004 has increased by 45% from just under 6.2 million to 8.9 million in 2013, making them the fastest growing group in the EU labor market.
Are you with me? Good, because all those numbers only show what we already have been sensing: our society isn’t the same as it was a couple generations ago, and the 9-6 work model is long outdated. But this isn’t the reason why so many people are waving goodbye to their contracts and venturing to self-employment; technology is also helping a great deal.
Today, thousands of tools, resources, and services are here to help you manage, organize, automatize and find time to focus on what you do best: work.
Here are 10 indispensable productivity tools for freelancers, so you can happily run your business:
Proposify was made for creative firms. Its drag-and-drop interface lets you easily add different sections to your document. You can customize a proposal with an InDesign-like editor that lets you add text, images, and videos. In addition, it has robust analytics features, including the ability to see the top-viewed sections of your proposal, how many times it was viewed, and for how long. The tool also tracks the performance of your proposals over time, so your new biz team can better understanding close rates by month, quarter, and year.
Price: From $25/month to $3000/year.
Free templates, stock images and filters. For those who want to create design proposals quicky-quicky.
Now, if can, of course, design your own proposal template. And once you’ve done it, it’ll be easily adaptable to every new project or client you’ll have. You just need to make sure that your proposal template contains all the important topics and even better, in the best order for a successful pitch.
Time management and tracking
After all, your time is your most valuable commodity.
Have you ever heard about the productivity time tracking Pomodoro Technique? A guy called Francesco Cirillo discovered during his first year of university that by grabbing a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, setting it for 10 minutes, and trying to work solidly without doing anything else helped him get more done, even with the break time. He continued developing Pomodoro, and the final technique is just about as simple as his original idea: you use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks (usually 25 minutes) separated by a 5-minute break. After 4 consecutive working time blocks, take a longer break, around 15 or 20 minutes.
There are plenty of apps, free or paid pro versions, available for download. Be Focused is our favorite. It also lets you store the info so you can understand better your work patterns, and work on your weaknesses.
4. Tomato Timer
You can also use this online simple timer, that has shortcuts:
- Start or Stop the timer
- ALT + P Pomodoro
- ALT + S Short Break
- ALT + L Long Break
- ALT + R Reset Timer
Task and project management
Easily organize any project into visual boards and categorize with labels, add co-workers, set deadlines and more. Trello can also come in hand for task organization into weekly or monthly sprints.
Price: From Free to $21/monthly
Notes, Clipping, and Teamwork
Here at Elumina, we use Evernote daily. We keep a shared Notebook with inspiration for our posts, to-do checklists, Social Media and Apps keys… I also have Notebooks with clipped articles that I stumble on and save to read later. It is a very versatile and useful tool.
Price: Free to 60 Euros/Yearly.
Calendar and Scheduling
Nothing fancy here. But Google Calendar is dependable, cross-platform, and free. If you use Gmail, it’ll automatically pull in helpful information like upcoming flights. It’s not a flashy choice, but it offers clean, easily digestible views of your upcoming events. And it’s available for iOS and Android.
Streak is a CRM system for your inbox. Gmail users can track and manage leads, clients, potential partners, projects and more directly in your inbox.
Price: Free to $89/monthly
A natural-born procrastinator, are you? You’re not alone! Focus for iOS blocks distracting sites like Facebook and Reddit when it’s time to get work done. And when a distracting website is blocked, a motivational quote is shown to get you back on track and improve your productivity. An alternative for PC users is Freedom.
Price: From $19,99 for 1 Mac to $39,99 for 5 Macs.
If you’re anything like me, that light murmur of coffee shops gets you going and focused for a long time. Research says there are many more of us out there! With Coffitivity, you don’t need to leave the house so often anymore.
Price: Free to $9/yearly.