When you freelance, it can be difficult to cancel out distractions or avoid time-wasting activities. Especially if you work from home or base yourself in a busy co-working environment. When time is money, you'll want to stay focused and on track, so you can be as productive as possible.
To help you get the most out of each working day, Creative Boom has selected 25 of the best apps and tools on the market that will boost your productivity, including some we use ourselves:
Marketing & Social Media
A key priority for any freelancer is to focus on their marketing, even during busier periods. You'll want to ensure your name is still out there, even when you're chained to your desk. These tools will help you automate some of your own PR:
SproutSocial is a social media management tool, created to help businesses grow their social media presence, whilst offering collaboration between team members through its Helpdesk tool. Thus saving time on logging in and out of various social accounts.
Feedly is a neat, news aggregator application that saves oodles of time on social media management. Users can save all of their favourite news sources to one place, before integrating with a social scheduling app such as SproutSocial or Buffer.
Later (formerly Latergramme) allows you to schedule Instagram posts from any device, for sharing at future times. Once it reaches the scheduled time, you get a simple notification asking you to approve the post. It really is that simple.
If This Then That (IFTTT) allows its users to create virtual ‘recipes’, which cuts down on duplication across various channels, and as a result saves masses of time. Alongside social media sites, it also integrates with many popular Apple and Android apps.
Task Management & Collaboration
When you're bogged down by deadlines, the last thing you want is sloppy task management and communication. Get your ass in gear with these highly recommended tools to help you better manage your projects:
Teamwork is an online collaboration tool, which promises to maximise your team's productivity, communication and overall happiness. Although it’s not the cheapest option, we would argue it’s worth the extra investment.
Slack brings all communications together in one place. Its service is made up of real-time messaging and archiving, completely eradicating the need for internal email chains.
Samepage is designed for easy online team collaboration, offering simple messaging tools, which allow for quick and easy group discussions and file sharing.
For those who are fans of list making, Todoist is a task management app with an integrated to do list app. Available for desktop, phone and tablet, it’s a proven alternative to good old fashioned pen and paper.
Trello is a collaboration tool with the addition of a Pinterest-style collage function, which not only makes teamwork fun but is also an aesthetic delight too.
Wunderlist helps you to get the job done, whatever the job may be. Users are given the ability to manage multiple projects, set up reminders and generally keep track of lists from anywhere at any time.
Who has time for bank accounts and invoicing, eh? The following highly recommended solutions make accounting a breeze:
If you’re a freelancer or business owner, you’ll know how difficult it can be to keep track of invoices and receipts. FreeAgent takes the pain out of accounting, allowing for more of your time to be spent on the things you love.
Time tracking made simple, Toggl has been designed for ease and speed. Say goodbye to Excel timesheets once and for all.
Keep losing your passwords? Mucking about with documents and can't seem to find things on different devices? The following tools are absolute essentials for any time-efficient freelancer:
When it comes to Cloud storage, it doesn’t get much easier than Dropbox. Keep your files safe, shareable and synched across all your devices. And pay for the storage you need, increasing or decreasing as you go.
Keep all your passwords together securely in one place with 1Password. The Google Chrome extension allows users to enter codes at the touch of a key, saving time on constantly clicking 'forgot my password'.
Workflow is designed to connect apps and actions together to automate the things you do on your devices. Thanks to a drag and drop system, building a workflow is really simple.
Extra Time Savers
Running from meeting to meeting? Can't seem to find any time to get things done? The following solutions should help to make life a little easier and free up some precious hours:
Do you ever look at the clock and wonder where the time has gone? Thanks to RescueTime, a personal analytics service that allows you to view exactly how you’ve spent your time, you will never need wonder again.
Are you prone to losing your wallet/keys /phone? Imagine how much time could be shaved off your morning routine if you were more organised? TrackR allows for missing items to be located anywhere around the house.
If you’re forever discovering content that’s simply too good to miss, Pocket will help you save for reading at a later date to enable better productivity whilst you’re at work.
Created by the clever team at FiftyThree, Paper is exactly that – an alternative to paper in the traditional sense. It’s designed to be used with the Pencil, a nifty stylus, so users can handwrite directly onto the screen of their phone or tablet, and save for later. No more searching around for handwritten scraps of paper.
When you need to focus, you need to block out all distractions. But with so many things grabbing our attention in an ever increasing digital world, it's often hard to switch off. The following apps will help you fight back:
If you’re a serial procrastinator, this app is for you. Block apps on desktop, phone or tablet for a more productive working day. So no scrolling through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram until you’ve finished that report.
When it comes to stopping yourself from constantly checking email or social channels, is your will power weak? SelfControl is an OS X application which blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time. For example, you could block access to your email, Twitter or Facebook for 90 minutes.
Focus is a Mac menu-bar app that helps you find your inner zen. One click creates an optimal work environment where you can block out distracting websites to improve your productivity. It works with Safari, Chrome and Firefox and can block things like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Skype.
Get through your to-do list with FocusBooster, an app based on the principles of the Pomodoro technique – a time management system that challenges you to focus on a single task for 25 minutes and then allow yourself a five-minute break. Excellent for encouraging you to stay on track.
If you're going to stay productive, you need to take regular breaks. But when you freelance, it's easy to fall into bad habits and become chained to your desk for hours on end. This is where TimeOut will become your best friend. The Mac app reminds you to take regular breaks, so you stay healthy and productive.
25. Cold Turkey
Want to completely eradicate social distractions for a more productive working life? Cold Turkey can help. As well as allowing you to block apps and websites during the working day, it also offers a Frozen Turkey service, which locks your computer. Perfect for making sure you get to bed on time.