Being a freelancer comes with its perks and issues. I have been a full time freelance WordPress developer for the past 3.5 years and I have been through the ups and downs of it. As a freelancer, I need to wear a lot of hats in order get my business going. Sometimes, I find it easy and at other times, I just want to crawl into bed and not think about stuff.
Since, things don’t vanish when I crawl into bed, I had to decide how to deal with them. After reading many articles about freelancing, I decided that I just need the right tools to get things done. There are so many different tools to choose from – each offering different ways of achieving the same thing. Choosing the right one for your business is very important.
After finding the ones that I liked, I had to make the choice of deciding if that tool was right for me. Not every time management or project/task management tool clicked with me. Some of them have fancy features and integrate with a bunch of other apps. But, do I really need all that functionality? Deciding on this was very difficult.
After spending many number of hours searching for the right tools, I finally have a bunch of them that I can rely on. Here are the tools that I use on a regular basis to keep my work manageable and my mind sane.
Toggl is a time tracking app. I have tried a lot of different apps but, this was it for me. It is very easy to use and simple enough to set up. When I started using this, I started to see how I was wasting time. I got much more productive after I started using Toggl.
It is very simple and easy to use. I tried the free version for a year before deciding to pay for it. For $9.00/month, it is totally worth it. I can keep track of my projects, my clients and the hours I spend on each task. I also keep track of time spent on volunteering and social media which helps me a lot during my weekly review.
I use Wave for keeping track of my invoices and accounts. The reason I chose this was that it is free. It lets me connect to my bank account and keep track of my invoices and payments. I can send out estimates too. I wouldn’t say this is the best out there. There are some minor stuff that can be improved and I whine about those every year during tax time (mostly). But, I still use it because it is simple enough and works for me.
OneNote is something I have come to depend on a lot lately. I tried many other methods of keeping my projects and my notes all in one place where I can go to for reference. Evernote is good, but somehow OneNote is better. It helps me keep track of all my notes. As I am working on projects, I write myself notes that tell me the status of the project, or the plugin documentation that needs to go on the website once the plugin updates are live etc.. I used to write them down all in a notebook, but it became very difficult to keep track of that notebook. So, I forced myself to use something that can either live on my computer or I can access it online.
My blogging buddy, Nichole showed me a very interesting way of project and task management using OneNote. That was the moment I got hooked. I have tried many other apps, but keep coming back to OneNote. The more I use it, the more I learn and make things easier for myself.
I use Asana as part of the Chamber Dashboard team where we all need access to the tasks and the comments on a particular task. I have never managed to make Asana work for my personal projects, but for teams, Asana is amazing. Before we started with Asana, we had ideas and upcoming tasks in all sorts of places – distributed between all of us. We communicated mainly through email and finding the email thread regarding a particular task is not easy sometimes.
Asana helped us reduce all this clutter. Now, we have a centralized place where we can note down ideas, upload files for testing and most importantly add comments back and forth. After we release the plugin updates, in case we ever want to check, it is very easy to find the archived tasks.
Gmail and Outlook
I use Gmail for my business email, and I use Outlook as my email client. Outlook integrates very nicely with OneNote. So, any emails that come in that have articles or items that need to be read, can be pushed into OneNote with a single click from Outlook. That feature is very handy.
Any tools that have helped you with your business?