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12 hot apps to help any freelancer

Author: Paddy Wells
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I love working with freelancers and often envy the flexible lives they create for themselves, however, after 7+ years of working with the best marketing freelancers in the market, I know it is anything but plain sailing!

You are your best friend and own worst enemy because it is just you, yourself and... thee? You have to do all of the work, you have to motivate yourself and you have to organise your own time, just to get through the day.

But never fear! Here is a list of the common problems that freelance can face and some amazing apps I know of that can help make things a little bit easier.

How can I improve my time management?

This has to be the number one problem when freelancing, as you manage your own time. Now some people are great at remembering every piece of information thrown at them… not me! So, if you are like me and could use a helping hand in this department then try…

Rescuetime

Rescuetime is a fantastic app that tracks how you spend time on your computer and lets you analyse what you have been doing and for how long. It may surprise you how much time you spend on Twitter or even that you do actually need to take a break, because you’ve been spending the last 10 hours looking at that same Word document!

Calendars by Readdle

This is one of the most highly rated apps for organisation with over 47,000 ratings, 8 million downloads and an average star rating on 4.7 on the App Store! Calendars allows you to manage events on and offline and it’s really easy to use - you can drag and drop a number of events and navigate quickly through dates, times and reminders.

Where is the best place to work?

2018 saw the rise of co-working spaces that took the freelancer world by storm, so the first thing you should do is check your local WeWork out! There are loads of places now that are offering their own take on co-working spaces, but if you’re a traditionalist and like to use coffee shops then try…

Best Coffee

If you love your coffee then this one’s definitely for you! This app helps you find cafés that are known for having the best coffee around - with lots of reviews, maps and a list that’s regularly updated. Or why not try…

Wifimap

Wifimap will show you all of the places with accessible WIFI nearby, so that you can take your pick of a Starbucks, the library or the pub… wherever you work best!

How do I stay focused?

This is a tough one and something I know every freelancer will lose at some point. Focus is something that affects permanent employees too but having colleagues who can give us a sharp elbow or go and get us a pre-emptive cup of coffee at 9am, does really help. When you’re managing your own time and you nod off, who’s going to wake you up?

Well, this trick doesn’t exactly involve sleeping but it does include an alarm! The Pomodoro Technique is known to be incredibly effective and suggests focusing on one task for 25 minutes then having a 5 minute break. Just set a timer on your phone to keep track.

Alternatively, you could try a brain-training app of which there are plenty. I use…

Lumosity

Lumosity is a great brain-training app for everyone and best of all, it’s free! It recommends a few minutes of use each day and will set a programme for you to improve memory or sharpen your logical thinking. There is also a premium version if you can buy, if you want to really give your brain a test. Lumosity have 10 years’ experience and 95 million member so they must be doing something right!

Headspace

If you’re looking for something to give you more of a relaxed focus, Headspace is a good choice. It’s a meditation tool used to help with stress, anxiety, focus, relationships, addictions and more. They say if you use this app 10 minutes a day then it will change your brain to boost focus, be more creative and generally happier! Sounds too good to be true? Download it and let me know what you think.

What’s the best way to organise myself?

Lists, lists and more lists is one way to deal with organisational issues. But, If you don’t want your desk to look like a graveyard for Post-it notes or poorly scribbled pieces of scrunched up paper - then these apps can help.

A great tool to store all your files, work, notes, pictures etc. is…

Dropbox

The freelancer life can be hectic - finding yourself with 4 deadlines due at the end of the week, all for different clients… stressful! Having everything in one place that can be accessed from anywhere, on any device is one less thing to worry about and Dropbox is a great solution.

TeuxDeux

If you like making to-do lists, and I do, then TeuxDeux is the app for you. It’s basically an app where you can input several lists and it will store them, remind you and help organise your day. Goodbye mountain of Post-it notes, hello clean desk and organised days.

Which project management tool is the best?

You have your to-do lists done, your work is all saved and in one place, ready to be sent to your grateful and soon to be impressed clients and all that’s left is to tell them. What easier way to keep in touch with all of your different clients and team members than…

Slack

Slack is an instant messaging app, revolutionising business communications by making it easy to keep in touch with your clients and team. Slack stands for ‘Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge’, basically you can search, save, share and pin messages whilst setting reminders for later. On top of that is also integrates into Dropbox and Google Docs.

Involved in multiple projects at once, try…

Trello

Very user-friendly and based on Kanban boards. Think of Trello as a giant board with Post-it notes on but all in one place and online! It will organise your to-do lists and ideas, plus is really easy to use from day one. On top of that, it’s free which is always a bonus.

What’s the best way to switch off?

Having a stressful career makes getting enough sleep and being able to switch off even more important. If there’s one things that relaxes me more than anything it’s switching off - and I mean really switching off, literally sleeping! I also use my FitBit to monitor my sleep, which gives me updates on how well I sleep, for how long and when. If you don’t have a FitBit try…

Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is an all in one app that monitors your sleep through your phone and make sure you’re getting a good night in. You set up your wake up phase (when you are at the highest part of the REM cycle) which can be 10-90 minutes and will wake you in the morning when it detects you’re at your lightest sleep. This makes sure you wake up feeling as refreshed as you can in those winter months. Find it hard to get to sleep in the first place? Try one of the Sleepcasts in Headspace - you’ll be off in no time!

Candy Crush

Now this isn’t your normal relaxing app but it will take your mind of anything as it is incredibly addictive, which is why it’s one of the most downloaded apps of all time! As it suggests, you crush candies to collect point and move along a path of different challenges. Sometimes you don’t need to meditate or sleep to relax, sometimes crushing candies will do.

I hope you have found some of the information above useful in your quest to help become a more productive freelancer. Now all that’s left is finding those projects! To find out more about Forward Role’s contract and interim positions give us a call on 0161 9148499.

Paddy Wells is Contract Recruitment Lead at Forward Role specialising in marketing and communication roles. He can be found tweeting @forwardrole_pw and on LinkedIn.

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