Freelancing is definitely on the rise, and if you’ve arrived on our website it means you either are a freelancer or you’re thinking to become one. To freelancing you need to have professional skills, but also organizational skills: in fact, you’re the sole responsibility of your business, you have to take care of existing clients, find new clients, stay updated on the industry, and also have a personal life.
To do everything, you need to have the right set of tools that will help you in being and becoming a better freelancer.
In this guide, we have gathered a collection of the best productivity apps and tools that will help your freelancing business in 2020.
We’ve limited our choice because the risk of getting overwhelmed and start using too many apps and tools is high and this can lead to a different problem: complete chaos in managing the tools that are supposed to help you be more productive.
Keep reading this guide from the top to the bottom or just jump to the section you prefer by using the following table of contents.
Table of Contents
What is a Productivity App?
A productivity app is a tool that makes your job easier and allows you to get more work done in less time. App doesn’t mean they reside on a smartphone or a tablet, but this is simply the common denomination for tools that allow people to do more in less time or to do more and better.
A productivity app helps to do more in less time or to do more and better.
Do I Really Need Productivity Apps?
Yes, especially if you juggling between gigs and clients. You need to have everything organized, and most of all you need to use tools that help you in simplifying your freelancing business, whether it is just sending an email or managing complex projects.
11 Productivity Apps Freelancers Need In 2020
You may be familiar with the Kanban method: it’s an approach that assigns a visual sign to an action. That’s what Trello is: a virtual shared space where teams or individuals can create their boards and cards within every board. The board represents the main project, while the cards represent the things to do to complete the project; every board can contain an indefinite number of Cards, each about an action to perform, and each card be broke into sub-cards for managing sub-projects. Every time a piece of the project is completed, the correspondent card is moved to the appropriate section so that it will be immediately visible that it has been completed. In this way, you can keep track of your project and always be aware of the different stages.
Trello is free to use for limited use and it can be integrated with Jira and Confluence.
Read our article about the Best Project Management Tools for Freelancers for more advice on the best organizational tools.
How much time do you waste looking for the passwords of the sites you consult most often? LastPass is the perfect app for this: it stores your passwords safely so that when you need one it autocompletes on the desired website. And if you need to create a new password for a new service you want to use, Lastpass suggests you the best and safest one, that you can use and then store on the app. It’s also possible to share passwords with other people, to allow everyone in a team to use the same set of tools.
LastPass is free to use, for desktop and mobile. You can upgrade to the Premium version as well.
If you are always struggling against time and get easily distracted, StayFocusd is the perfect app for you. It is in fact an extension of Chrome that blocks access to certain sites or services based on parameters that you can set directly in the configuration panel. Access can be blocked for the single service or site or for everything that has nothing to do with your work: for example, you could block access to the Web globally if you don’t need to consult it while you work or you can block access to social networks, throughout the day or for a defined period, in case you do not need to access it for work.
StayFocusd is free to use.
If you work on multiple projects, each with different deadlines, RescueTime is the perfect solution: a free management system that monitors how long it takes to complete a certain task or to perform a certain action. For example, you can monitor the time spent converting documents to another format or the time spent, even passively, on the Internet. The detailed report will allow you to understand what and where you can improve, if possible also helping you to delegate or automate operations that take too long and that can otherwise be completed in other ways. It is also a good tool to analyze if your rates match the time you spend on the tasks; if they don’t match, you may review your fee and change them accordingly.
Lists are a good way to remember the things to do and with Todoist you can create as many as you want: you could create the to-do-list dedicated to the job and inside it maybe create one another relating to a specific project to be completed, or even a to-do-list dedicated to shopping and connecting it to one linked to household things. Todoist can be considered as a mini-project management system to be used on the computer and mobile phone to better organize one’s tasks, deadlines, and objectives to be achieved.
You can start for free and then choose the plan you prefer, from $3.00 a month.
KanbanFlow is considered one of the best systems for managing and tracking projects and is perfect for those who are looking for a free app to improve their productivity. In fact, given a project and a deadline, with KanbanFlow you can create bulletin boards where you can enter all the activities to do with the deadlines attached: at that point just consult the bulletin boards and plan the activities based on the deadlines, without running the risk of losing deliveries or skipping basic steps to complete a project. Not only that, because with KanbanFlow you can use the Pomodoro Technique on each of your projects, giving each task a maximum time of 25 minutes to complete it: when it is time to take a break within 25 minutes, KanbanFlow will send you a notification.
KanbanFlow offers a free version and a Premium version at $5 per user per month.
7. GMail Canned Responses
Gmail offers many more functions than those that are generally used and one, in particular, deserves special attention: the smart replies. This function, which is located within the Advanced Settings, allows you to create and save response templates to be used in all those situations that always require the same answer. For example, if you need to send a report to your customers or partners every month, you could create a message to use to send the email monthly. If you then combine this feature with the Filter for e-mails function, you can catalog incoming e-mails by the recipient and address them in the correct box, organizing your inbox in a functional and easily manageable way.
Gmail is free with limited functionality; GSuite is the paid version.
8. Language Tool
If you have to write a document and don’t want to make mistakes, use Language Tool: just enter the text you wrote in the appropriate field and the app will report the mistakes made. Language Tool is designed to work on 20 different languages and can trace grammar and logic errors, but also related to the use of the text in case the written texts are complex. Mind you: Language Tool is not a translator so if there are words in a different language in your text, they could be reported as errors.
LanguageTool is free to use.
To increase the productivity of a team, Slack is certainly the best known and most used option: it is an instant messaging system that allows teams, even those who work remotely, to compare and stay in touch. The most useful thing about Slack is the possibility to connect the account to almost all the other apps that are used for work, so with a single click, you can access multiple services, all connected and interconnected. On Slack it is also possible to exchange files, to make the workflow more fluid.
Slack is available in the Free, Standard, and Plus version.
10. Google Drive
It’s easy to get lost when you have a lot of projects and documents to manage. And it is even easier to forget to properly store your documents in a way that is easily accessible, it’s safe and it allows you to keep a copy of what you do on your computer in case of emergency. Google Drive is the perfect solution in this regards: it allows you to store files, collaborate with clients, and access your work from anywhere. It is also great to backup automatically your computer so you don’t have to worry about loosing data.
Google Drive is free up to the first 15GB of storage remain free.
If you struggle with invoicing, you can use Bonsai to simplify your method: it allows you to send invoices to your client and, most of all, set up the recurring ones so you don’t have to worry because you will never miss a deadline. A big plus is that Bonsai reminds clients of any unpaid invoices and automatically adds a late fee to any invoices that aren’t paid by the due date.
The pricing starts at $19/month for the Workflow Plan, but you can try HelloBonsai for free using this link.
Read our article about The Best Invoicing Tools for Freelancers for more ideas.
How to Choose the Best Tools for Your Productivity
Every single person is different, with different needs, and a different workflow. The only good thing to do in this specific case is that you experiment, find what works, and stick with it: you may find that one of the apps we’ve suggested really works for you and you want to use it for everything, or maybe that none of these work and you need something else. Always remember to match the tools you use with your goal and business needs because it’s only with the right and customized tools that you’ll increase your level of productivity in no time.
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