As a freelancer, you are a one-man band.
It’s not only the client work you are responsible for but also marketing, admin, invoicing, taxes, and so much more!
Balancing all these tasks while staying productive (and sane!) can be challenging.
It often seems impossible.
The good news: many productivity tools can help 10x your productivity.
The bad news: there are so many tools out there that it's easy to feel overwhelmed and to get lost.
Fear not! We've tested and handpicked the best software tools to help you get things done.
In this article we will cover ✍️
- Time tracking software to help you stay on track
- App blockers that boost your focus and productivity
- Tools to market your freelance services
- Apps to streamline your notes and build a second brain
- Software to automate repetitive and mundane tasks
- Focus music to boost freelancers’ productivity
Let's dive in!
Time tracking software to keep you on track
As Peter Drucker says:
“What gets measured, gets managed.”
Knowing how you spend time can give you powerful insights.
Time tracking apps reveal the times of the day you’re most focused and productive.
They also help you identify areas where you waste too much time.
Time trackers help me avoid getting bogged down in details by prioritising the most crucial tasks.
Here are my three favourite time tracking apps.
Toggle is the most popular time tracking tool for freelancers out there.
It's simple, intuitive and allows you to switch easily between projects and tasks.
It has a generous free plan that allows you to track unlimited tasks and projects.
ToggleTrack is feature-rich and integrates well with most popular freelancer tools.
It has an easy-to-use interface and allows you to track time by project, task or client.
It's free plan includes unlimited projects, tasks, detailed reports and other productivity features.
Harvest is another user-friendly time tracker.
It's core feature is invoicing, and it works great for larger teams
Harvest doesn't offer a free plan.
So our top recommendations for a cost-effective, simple time tracker are Toggle and Clockify.
Social media and the never-ending stream of notifications can wreak havoc on any freelancer's productivity.
Here are a few tools that help me block the noise and stay focused.
Deepwrk: Virtual Coworking
A popular focus & productivity strategy is virtual coworking (aka body doubling): having someone else present while working on things.
Having an accountability buddy can make remote work less lonely and tasks less daunting and overwhelming.
Deepwrk is a virtual coworking app / accountability partner app that can help you boost focus and productivity.
RescueTime blocks distracting apps and websites and also tracks how you spend your time.
It combines the features of website blockers and time trackers.
RescueTime AI assistant helps you find your most productive and focused time of the day.
It also provides insights and reports to help you optimize your work habits.
A website and app blocker that can help you stay off social media, news websites, and other distractions while you work.
Block any website or platform that distracts you.
Limiting Instagram reel access is beyond helpful, if you are anything like us.
Market your freelance services efficiently
As a freelancer, you not only need to work on clients’ businesses but also your own.
You need to make sure you always have work coming in and people are aware of your services.
Here are a few tools to help you with that productively:
Canva is a popular, simple and easy to use graphic design tool.
It helps create professional marketing materials for your website or social media.
You can use an almost infinite pool of templates and elements to spice up your marketing.
A social media scheduling tool that allows you to time your posts.
They’ll publish automatically on the time and date you’ve chosen.
This allows you to have an active social media presence while also staying productive and getting other things done.
An A.I. text generator to help you write engaging social media posts that will capture the attention of your potential clients.
The ubiquitous A.I. chat bot.
Indispensable for almost anything.
And great for writing and enhancing long-form blog content.
You would still need to edit the text, but it can easily 10x your productivity.
An app and Chrome extension that automatically checks your spelling.
It makes sure that (most of the time) you don’t send emails or publish texts with embarrassing spelling mistakes.
It can save you hours of obsessively going through every piece of writing you want to put out into the world.
Grammerly can also improve what you right by suggesting better phrasing or wording.
Another writing tool.
This one helps you edit longer pieces of writing into easy-to-read and digestible sentences.
It's simple to use and is great for editing.
Hemingway shows the readability of your writing and helps you improve it.
Streamline your notes and build a second brain
Keeping track of ideas, notes, and information is always a challenge for freelancers.
By organising all your ideas, notes and research into a centralised database you can streamline your workflow.
You can also access information when you need it, without wasting time.
Here are our favourite note taking apps.
Notion is a powerful and highly customisable app.
It is versatile and combines note taking and planning.
You can use it for nearly everything: from writing blogs to project planning.
Some users manage their entire lives and businesses with Notion.
While it has a bit of a learning curve at first, it is worth the patience and time commitment.
Notion has a great free plan and could be the perfect second brain system for any freelancer.
An AI assistant that automatically transcribes your voice recordings into text.
It makes it easy and quick to note down ideas and transcribe voice notes on the go.
Otter is also great for transcribing meetings, interviews or generating summaries for you.
A rapid-fire note-taking app.
It allows you to quickly jot down notes and ideas and then send them to other apps or services.
Automate repetitive tasks to unlock the next level of productivity
Automating repetitive and tedious tasks can help you save time.
They can give you more leverage and allow you to replicate yourself (so to speak).
Here are the tools we recommend trying:
A powerful but simple automation tool that can connect different apps and software.
It allows you to automate tasks like sending emails, creating calendar events, and more.
It's simple and extremely easy to use.
A great option for freelancers that we couldn't recommend enough!
A visual no-code automation tool that allows you to automate tasks.
It’s a bit more complex than Zappier but comes at a better price and offers more customisation.
Make has steeper learning curve but could be a great option if you find Zapier expensive.
Reduce email traffic with project management software
As a freelancer, you're likely juggling multiple projects and tasks at once.
Here are some tools that can help you stay on top of your workload.
They will help you work asynchronously with clients.
By reducing email flow these apps will give you much-needed time and space to focus on your work.
An easy to use, flexible and simple task management tool.
It uses Kanban boards and cards to help you track progress and stay organised.
Great drag and drop features, lot's of integrations and rich free version.
One of the first and most popular project management tools.
It has a feature-rich free version, with clear interface and excellent integrations.
Suitable for freelancers and small teams alike.
An easy-to-use and very visual project management tool.
It has a beautiful board and list view, but it doesn't have a great free plan.
Of the three project management software, our favourite is Asana. The generous free plan, the rich features, simplicity of use and loads of integrations make it a safe bet.
A simplified, visual and powerful version of Excel that lives in the cloud.
It's easy to use and highly flexible platform to organise data and information.
It can be used for everything - from tracking tasks to building databases.
A scheduling tool that allows clients to book appointments straight into your calendar.
Calendly is like having a personal assistant.
It will save you all the hassle of coordinating schedules and finding suitable times.
Focus music to improve productivity
Some people need silence to focus, while others prefer background noises.
The right focus music can improve productivity and make it easier to stay on task.
Here is some inspiration when searching for the right tunes.
An absolute favourite of our team!
This app uses science and AI to create music that's optimized for focus, deep work, relaxation, or sleep.
A focus music app that creates personalized soundscapes based on your mood and needs.
A background noise generator that can create white noise, nature sounds, and other background sounds to help you focus and relax.
ADHD & Freelancing
Every freelancer is an entrepreneur that needs to juggle various responsibilities.
And being an ADHD entrepreneur makes things even more...spicy and exciting.
They can 10x our productivity and help us achieve a better work-life balance. However, finding the right tools for you and your business requires some experimentation.
Keep in mind that if you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, or an employee living in the UK, you can take advantage of the government’s Access to Work ADHD scheme. It can cover some of your expenses in managing ADHD at work.