Freelancing. The appealing idea of staying home and typing away in your pajamas comes to every office worker every Monday (or Wednesday, if you’re a fan of the mid-week crisis). However, for 55 million Americans it’s not just an idea, it’s exactly what they can do, should they wish to do so.
Imagine that, 35% of the US workforce belongs to those of us who decided that freelancing (or moonlighting) is just more our style. There is a lot to that office vibe (ambient typing, mouse clicking, coffee grinding noises are irreplaceable), but there are 3 reasons why most freelancers choose to trade in their office access card:
- To be their own boss
- To have work schedule flexibility
- To have work location flexibility
So, how do you make it all work when you’re a freelancer? You tackle the work of apps! Keeping you away from procrastination all the way to tracking your budget, apps are the ultimate “coworkers.”
Without further ado, here’s a list of apps that every freelancer, moonlighter, and maybe even office dweller should be using:
1. Grammarly (free; premium starting at $29.95/month)
If you haven’t heard of this browser extension you must have been in the farthest corner of the galaxy enjoying Endor.
This great tool helps you keep track of any grammatical errors, incorrect use of prepositions, verbs, or what may come from under your typing hands. All of this happens as you type.
2. Lingofy (Free)
This is an app that helps you proofread for spelling, style, word usage, and proper names.
The difference between Lingofy and Grammarly is that you’re able to upload text and “proofread” to fit any style guide that you choose. This is an excellent tool for copywriters that work with various companies, as each company (dependent on personal preference, region, or even country) will have its own writing style guide. Lingofy helps you keep track what style you’re editing for and who the text needs to forwarded to.
3. Hourstack (free; packages start at $6.00/per user per month)
Not only can you assign, report, and integrate your project management apps just like with Everhour – you can also keep separate client/project lists with information like how much you are charging per hour/task/project.
This is a great tool for anyone who does hourly work. You can schedule your whole week using workspaces and “time devoted” to each task (it will keep track of the actual time you spend on a task). It’s an excellent tool that keeps you on track, but also aware of how much of your time each project takes up, allowing you to project time devoted overall.
4. Toggl (free; packages start at $10.00/per user per month)
My personal favorite. Toggl keeps you productive by tracking time spent on a task (it even has a built-in timer!) and creates excellent reports and aids in billing.
In its essence, this app is a lot like Hourstack. However, it’s more user-friendly with a super-easy to use dashboard, cleaner design, number of app options (from mobile to different desktops), and it offers more to work with.
5. Cushion (freelancer package $12.00/month)
Freelancing isn’t always going to be a stable source of income. Some freelancers make the mistake of not taking on other projects because they believe the one of two they’re working on will always be there.
Cushion is a great app that helps you track your income schedule, while also keeping you on point with budgeting. Set up goals, track your expenses, schedule projects, create invoices, add client rankings and insights. It’s just a smoother freelancer ride when you know what you’re standing on, right?
6. Taco (free)
It’s not just procrastination that stands in the way of a job great done, it’s also the inability to prioritize. Taco is an awesome app that integrates with pretty much anything! Keep your day organized by scheduling time for emails, tasks, research, YouTube videos, and that great article about Yoda’s words of wisdom.
All you have to do is integrate all your apps and accounts with Taco and you can begin moving, shifting and prioritizing your tasks for the day.
7. Instapaper (free – even the premium version!)
Speaking of research, what about all those statistics articles you found for your paper? Maybe a couple inspiration posts for a project you’re working on?
Instapaper is my go-to clipboard for articles I want to come back to. You can categorize, highlight, add personal notes, and share your saved articles. Very handy for technical copywriters!
8. Calmly Writer (free)
Unless you have the focus of the eye of Sauron, it’s almost impossible to ignore any notification that pop-ups on the screen or that very interesting menu bar while you’re writing.
Back in the day, we wrote on black DOS screens with green letters and a blinking green block. No distractions, just good ‘ol copywriting. Calmly Writer brings back those days in a very simple design that you can adjust to whatever helps you focus best. A little tip from me to you – make sure you turn on the word count tracker!
9. Dark Room for PC (free); Write Room for Mac ($9.99)
If you want an app that you can download directly onto your computer instead of working in a browser – download Dark Room or Write Room. Both have that very ‘80s feel and help keep your eyes from wandering around the screen.
10. Slack (free; plans from $8.00 per active user monthly)
Everyone knows and loves Slack. This is the ultimate communication tool that could be used not just by companies but also by freelancers. Bigger projects require calls, file exchanges, real-time updates, and brainstorming sessions between you and your client (or a team of people you’re collaborating with).
Slack gives you all of the above and more. Let’s give them a hand of applause because Slack is rocking modern communication!
11. 2048 (free)
So, this one is kind of a black sheep on this list of productivity apps. Why? Because it’s a game.
Working non-stop is a huge productivity killer, some would even argue that doing nothing makes you MORE productive! If you’re using pomodoro, or just common sense, take a break to look at something different than letters – numbers. 2048 is available for mobile and for desktop, it’s handy to have it open to swipe some numbers to give the brain a stretch between paragraphs.
12. Peak – Brain Training (free, plans from 3.99 USD/per month)
Stretching the mind is not enough, sometimes it needs to be challenged to be more. The more we train our focus, mental agility, memory, or even math skills – the more likely we are to think outside the box while keeping on track with our work.
Give your brain a treat so that it will work better and faster.
Whether it’s training your brain to help you stay focused, keeping track of time spent on a task, or figuring out your budget – you can be sure there is an app for that. Why not give these app “coworkers” a try and get your work-life balance in order thanks to a more organized and disciplined freelancer life?
Are there any apps that keep you motivated and focused while working? Comment below, I’d love to hear what awesome tips you have!