One of the most exciting things about working in the digital age is that there are loads of products and apps that can help streamline your workflow and generally make work – and life – a little bit easier. However there are SO many business and freelancing apps out there that sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming, and I often find it hard to know which ones to try or what will actually improve my workflow.
Today I thought I’d share with you 4 of the apps that I use every day in my business and that work for me. Best of all, they’re all free!
Although I keep a weekly to-do list in my physical planner, I use iCal to organise my time day-to-day. Whenever I receive a job or a client asks for some amends, I allocate time for the job on my calendar.
I’ve only been using my calendar like this for the past couple of months but already it’s been so helpful in tracking where the majority of my time is going, and also for forward planning and working out how much work I can take on. To help with organising, I’ve also got a number of colour-coded calendars set up for various things, so one for client work, one for personal work development, one for stuff like coffee with friends or playing sport, and one that is shared with Nathan.
Loads of designers use Trello, and for good reason! It’s extremely versatile and you can make it work in a way that suits you. I use it for a high level overview of all of the jobs that I’ve got open, so that I don’t let any slip through the cracks or get forgotten about.
If you haven’t used Trello before, it’s kind of like a virtual post-it note system where you can move your post-it notes around and also record information. I have 4 columns set up on mine – Pending (Quoted), Ready to start (Deposit paid), In Progress and Completed (Invoice sent) – and as a job progresses it will move through the columns. On the card for each job I will record information like the project price (or day rate if applicable), and also I’ll write down how much time I’ve spent on the project.
I’m sure there are loads of features of Trello that I’m not using to their full potential as it’s a very powerful tool, and I’m sure the way I use it will evolve as time goes on.
Bear is one of my new-ish discoveries and it’s basically a writing app. Unfortunately it’s only available on Apple products but it’s got a really clean, fresh design and is so easy to use. I use it to keep track of all my lists for various bits and pieces – forward planning for blog posts, long-term goals for my business and to-do lists for big projects, amongst other things.
Finally, Wave is definitely one app I could not do without! It’s a free accounting software service especially aimed at freelancers and small businesses, and makes it really easy to track your finances. You can send invoices, record expenses and transactions, and you can also link your Etsy shop and bank account if you wish to automate things even further. The best thing about Wave is that it makes filling in that pesky tax return a doddle at the end of the year (if you’re registered as a sole trader anyway!) as it does all of the calculations for you.
Obviously there are loads more out there that I haven’t had a chance to use yet, so do let me know what your favourites are and I’d love to try them out!