The 4 Productivity Apps I Use to Run My Freelance Business
I seem to know fewer and fewer people my age who have just one standard 9-5 job.
Maybe my generation lacks an attention span, but we certainly don’t lack a work ethic. All my creative professional friends are hustling to maintain several different gigs, working in multiple fields and worlds simultaneously. It takes some serious discipline and self-management, as evidenced in The Art of Less Doing with Ari Meisel.
Personally, over the past few years, I’ve juggled jobs in marketing, social media, writing, editing, event planning, photography, popsicle making, and more.
As all-over-the-place as it all may seem, I try to avoid the scattered-brain feeling freelancers know far too well. To keep my life and mind in one piece (for the most part), I rely heavily on technology, of course. I turn to a bevy of apps to manage all my time, money, and sanity, and I’m here to share them with you.
I’ve been a lifelong devotee of writing to-do lists.
There are few things in this life quite as satisfying as crossing something off your list. But, as life grows more complicated and the freelance gigs roll in, I always seem to lose the pad of paper onto which I had been jotting my various responsibilities.
Enter: Wunderlist. It’s all the satisfaction of your to-do list, with the added convenience of your smartphone. With a super-simple, no frills user interface, Wunderlist makes it easy to track any and all lists in your life. I use the app to maintain several different to-do lists for each of my various gigs. It’s awesome for keeping an eye on looming deadlines and upcoming due dates.
It’s also a great app for any other lists you might want to keep on hand, like grocery lists, books you’ve been meaning to read, or funny names for that dog you hope to one day adopt. I much prefer it to the iPhone’s built in list app, Reminders.
Handling your finances as a self-employed professional can feel like its own part-time (or full-time) job.
I’m guilty of letting my expenses get out of hand and losing track of how much money I’ve spent. Expensify makes it super easy to keep track of everything. Through the app, or through a web browser, you can easily and quickly log purchases or any money spent.
Whether you’re grabbing coffee with a client, racking up mileage driving between meetings, or investing in new camera equipment, simply snap a photo of the receipt or just file the info on your phone and Expensify will keep it safe.
Expensify also makes it super easy to convert expenses into invoices, for any cost that can be easily turned over for reimbursement. This year, don’t lose a single penny because you lost a receipt or forgot. Keep track of everything and watch those dollars pile up.
Now I don’t know about you, but I tend to um… waste a whole lot of my time.
When you work for yourself, though, your time is your money and I HATE wasting money. I’ve often joked that I need to hire a personal assistant whose only job would be to yell at me when I zone out or get off task for too many minutes.
Luckily, I don’t need to get yelled at anytime soon because I found Pomodoro Timer. The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Franceso Cirillo in the 1980’s, breaks up your time into 25-minute increments. Cirillo believed that regular short breaks were conducive towards encouraging positive brain productivity. I agree!
The Pomodoro Timer will break up your workflow into easily conquerable 25-minute increments. You’d be amazed how much work you can get done if you sit down and say, “I am doing nothing but writing this story for the next 25 minutes.” No social media, no playing with your cat, no lackadaisically staring out the window.
It’s a very satisfying feeling when that timer goes off and you can see the work you’ve accomplished.
When you’re handling multiple jobs, responsibilities, and dozens of deadlines, it can be easy to forget about who you are actually supposed to be taking care of – yourself. In all the stress of a scattered workday, your head can become a messy place.
While it’s not necessarily a work or productivity-related app, Headspace, a guided meditation app, has done wonders to improve both my life and work performance.
When your mind is truly clear and focused, your work will show it. A distracted mind will never produce the best work.
Do yourself a favor and make an investment in your mental clarity. With just 10-15 minutes each day of guided quiet stillness, you’ll start to see positive benefits in no time at all.
Check out The Art of Less Doing with Ari Meisel to get his proven system to optimizing productivity in your life.
If you’re ready to start a freelance business, or get serious about growing your existing client base, download our free eBook, The Freelancer’s Roadmap.
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