There are plenty of distractions freelancers succumb to every day—everything from coffee trips to Twitter feeds. And let’s not even talk about the biggest time suck of all, cat videos.
Even for those of us who are diligent about staying on task, a little increase in productivity can mean the difference between affording a vacation and barely getting by. The equation is simple: The more productive you are, the more money you’ll make, the more successful you’ll be. Below, we review eight tech solutions that can help you accomplish more throughout the day.
There are few phrases that strike fear into the hearts of freelancers more than the words “scope creep.” When starting a new job, you may do some quick math in your head and attempt to guess how long it will take, only to realize you spent more precious hours than you expected.
BrainLeaf is a program that predicts the scope of a project and how much you should charge, taking intuition out of the equation and replacing it with predictive data-driven templates. With a subscription, you can access templates for your writing and design projects that list time assessments for each step. You can even put in your fee structure and the program will create a price estimate.
Social media has been a game-changer for freelancers, helping us find jobs, support colleagues, and contact editors and clients. But it’s also a double-edged sword when it comes to productivity. There’s a fine line between staying active and wasting time reading BuzzFeed articles “in the name of research.” For freelancers who want to maximize their efficiency on the social network, Hootsuite can simplify the process. You can manage up to 35 social profiles in one handy dashboard. Schedule future posts, track how followers are engaging with your accounts, and monitor your analytics all in one spot.
Not every freelancer has the luxury of being able to type away on a beach. Writing can be stressful, and stress can hinder your productivity. That’s where Ommwriter comes in, an app-meets-word-processor-meets-meditation practice that lets you customize screen color, music, and keystroke sounds to create a tranquil writing environment.
For some freelancers who are juggling multiple projects, it can be difficult to focus on one task for a long period of time. Interruptions and breaks can help you recharge your batteries for a few minutes, but they can thwart productivity if you take too many breathers.
The people who created the free 30/30 app must have had us creative types in mind. It’s relatively simple—you set activities for certain amounts of time and your phone alerts you when it’s time to take a break and for how long. But sometimes that sort of straightforward time management scheduling is all you need to stay on task.
In addition to writing, designing, coding, and creating, freelancers must also act as a marketing department, social media manager, payroll employee, and administrative assistant. Setting up meetings and fielding emails can take a toll on your schedule, so if you have the means, hire a virtual assistant to free up some time. Zirtual specializes in assisting entrepreneurs and will match you with someone who works remotely to complete administrative tasks, make travel plans, and handle preliminary research.
For most people, scanning is on its way to being obsolete. But for those freelancers who deal with print and have to constantly fill out paperwork for new clients, scanning documents is still part of the routine. Unfortunately, most scanners out there are slow, bulky, or part of the printer. Doxie, on the other hand, is a lightweight and portable scanner that has a removable lid for those tough-to-scan items. According to the website, you can even scan while sitting on the couch. For anyone who fills out multiple W-9s every year, that’s progress.
In coffee shops and bookstores, it’s not that uncommon anymore to see people working on tablets. These people have their portable keyboards, which are useful but a bit clunky. But there are more convenient alternatives out there, like this foldable Bluetooth keyboard. Flyshark, which received funds through a Kickstarter campaign last year, has created the iLepo360, a keyboard that folds into a pocket-sized square. Now you can stay productive and type wherever you are—the DMV, the doctor’s office, the subway—and then put the keyboard into your jeans when you’re done.
Backing up a computer can be a daunting process. You pray that everything makes it over to your flash drive, which will inevitably get misplaced in a few months. Instead of putting all of your trust into a tiny gadget, you should also back up your files in the cloud. Carbonite will automatically back up your files and it doesn’t have any storage limits, which means more time and peace of mind for you. You can try it for free and then pay to continue for about $5 per month after that.
For those of us who feel like we need 25 hours in every day, hopefully these tech solutions can help you become more productive. If you know any other apps that can help freelancers work more efficiently, tweet us @TheFreelancer with suggestions.
Photos via Flickr