The joys of freelancing are many. Setting your own hours, working from home, being your own boss, getting to do what you love (AND GET PAID FOR IT) – these are just a few of the undeniably fantastic things about living the freelance life. But with all of those perks come some significant challenges. For example, on my first day working from home, I found myself overcome by a terrifying realization: no one was there to tell me what to do. No bosses, no supervisors, no helpful coworkers. Besides my cat, I was all alone in figuring out how to spend my workday. Of course, that’s the sort of freedom I had been craving all along, but in actual practice, the prospect was pretty terrifying.
While being accountable for your own productivity is a daunting task, in this day and age, it’s totally manageable. For those of us with untraditional careers, there are plenty of resources available to keep us motivated and organized. After all, as the good people at Apple told us numerous times in the year 2010, “there’s an app for that.”
As a freelancer, I use all sorts of apps to keep myself organized and to stay on task. If you take a quick look at the Business section in the app store, you’ll see thousands of tools designed to help freelancers become even better at what they do. But how do you determine which ones are legit and which ones are duds? If you’re struggling to figure out which apps will help you most, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are my absolute favorite productivity apps, apart from which I would probably be useless:
You know how life is basically just one giant circus of events, invitations, and deadlines? You add important dates to your planner, but then someone invites you to an event on Facebook, and then someone else schedules a meeting to your Google calendar, and it all kind of becomes a mess. With so many digital calendars, sooner or later, you are bound to miss something important.
Cue Sunrise. Sunrise takes all of your calendars – everything from iCal to Facebook to Meetup – and it puts it all into one beautifully organized calendar. It’s also an easy way to send and receive invitations to clients, even if they aren’t Sunrise users. Basically, you’ll never have an excuse for missing an appointment ever again.
Having the freedom to work from anywhere is one of the best parts about being a freelancer, and Workfrom helps you enjoy that freedom even more. This is a newer app that I’ve got some high hopes for as it grows. It allows you to find unique places to work outside of your home (coffee shops, libraries, coworking spaces, hotel lobbies, etc.) by providing detailed information about the workability of the environment.
Think about it: when people typically review a location, they aren’t necessarily thinking about whether or not it would be a good place to get some work done. That being said, traditional review-based websites may not give you the clearest picture of whether a coffee shop should become your office for the day. But Workfrom has got your back, providing details about aspects such as noise level, number of tables, accessibility of outlets, and tons of other things that you won’t learn through a basic Yelp review. Plus, it helps you stumble upon some hidden gems in your area that you might not otherwise know about.
We can all agree that no matter what your hustle is, social media is an incredible tool for promoting the amazing work you do. But on the flip side, it can also be a huge distraction. When I get stuck in my writing, the biggest temptation that I fight is the desire to scroll through my Twitter feed. In a typical office setting, at least there’s someone looking over your shoulder to make you feel accountable for being on task, but when you work remotely, it’s all up to you.
Freedom helps minimize distractions by blocking websites for a specified period of time. Don’t get me wrong, disabling all of your favorite distracting corners of the Internet will definitely annoy you, but you’ll appreciate it when you realize all of the work you’re able to get done.
This is my go-to collaboration app. Evernote allows you to collect notes and ideas, create lists, and collaborate on projects in one easy, accessible platform. Instead of sending an email, a text, a Google Doc, and a Dropbox file to someone you are working with, you can instead work together in this easy-to-use digital workspace. Plus, it easily syncs across all platforms, so wherever you are, you’ll be able to stay on task with the people you’re working with.
If you’re someone who regularly gets frustrated by the redundant nature of having so many different communication platforms, Evernote is sure to be your new best friend.
Stuck on how the heck to use Evernote? Nora Conrad shares a great tutorial on her blog.
Similar to Evernote, Trello allows you to organize, collaborate on projects, and share ideas, but what makes it especially useful is its approach to task lists. Now, if you’re anything like me, you have a love-hate relationship with your To-Do list. On one hand, you feel so accomplished as you start to check items off, but on the other hand, to-do lists can get out of hand – fast.
Trello helps prevent your task-list-related panic attacks by not only enabling you to create To-Do lists, but also Doing lists and Done lists. You can set deadlines for yourself and truly stay on top of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be completed. Its beautiful interface is really easy to use, and let’s be honest, it feels downright awesome to move an item from “Doing” to “Done.”
Looking for even more software to help you manage your freelance life? We recently asked members of our Blog + Biz BFFs Facebook group to share their most-treasured creative tools, and we got a ton of feedback with lots of great apps that the TNC community swears by. Some of these are productivity tools, but others are helpful apps for building your social media presence, developing your SEO game, communicating with clients, and simply running a killer website. If you haven’t already, be sure to check some of these out:
What are your favorite productivity apps?
p.s. Struggling with productivity? We’ve got a few popular posts that might help: