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11 Unique, Useful Tools for Freelancers That Make You More Productive

11 Unique, Useful Tools for Freelancers That Make You More Productive

Freelancing is almost the perfect job.

I’m saying “almost” because it does have its own unique challenges, and isn’t exactly as joyful, stress-free of a career as many people believe it to be.

Freelancing can be tough. You need a lot of resilience, self-discipline, and an overall ability to work effectively on your own terms. In other words, you need to learn how to remain productive. If you’re not, your career will be short-lived.

That’s where various tools come into the picture!

But since you’re probably already familiar with the Evernotes and the Google Calendars of the productivity world, today let’s focus on some non-obvious tools. However, although they might be less known, this doesn’t make them any less valuable, which you’ll realize in just a minute.

1. E.gg Timer

eggtimer

    E.gg Timer is a very unique tool. Basically, it’s an easy to use and nicely configurable countdown timer. For example, to set the timer to 25 minutes, all you need to do is visit e.ggtimer.com/25minutes. Setting any other countdown is just as simple.

    Why use it?

    E.gg Timer is great as a Pomodoro clock (e.ggtimer.com/pomodoro) or for any other kind of task that requires you to take part in it for a specific period of time. Working with E.gg Timer is certainly a lot more efficient than constantly looking at your wristwatch.

    2. Toggl

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    toggl

      Another time tracking tool, but this one is meant to help you keep up with specific work / projects / client tasks. To use it, just install it locally, click Start and assign a name to whatever you’re doing.

      Why use it?

      With Toggl, you can assign projects to given time slots. This lets you track the exact amount of time you’re spending working on individual client projects. Toggl also notifies you when you come back after being away from the computer, and asks if the time should be discarded or kept (in case you forgot to turn the timer off).

      3. Bidsketch

      bidsketch

        Bidsketch is the best client proposal tool available on the web today. With it, you can create, edit, and then send client proposals. After that, Bidsketch also notifies you if and when the client viewed your proposal.

        Why use it?

        It helps you figure out one of the most time consuming parts of the freelance business. Proposals and pitching clients your services are incredibly important for your bottom line. So why not use an advanced tool that can remove a lot of the headache from the equation and simply let you work more effectively?

        4. Trello

        trello

          Trello provides you with a visual way to organize various projects going on in your life. Trello works through what’s called Trello boards, lists and cards. You can re-align cards on each board through drag-and-drop, edit each card individually, add images, text, and simply let the board work alongside your own process.

          Why use it?

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          Trello doesn’t force you to adapt to their way of organizing. The tool is flexible and can adjust to your own individual needs. You can use it to manage client projects, ideas, tasks for individual projects, and everything else you see fit.

          5. Grammarly

          grammarly

            Grammarly is an advanced grammar checker tool. Don’t mistake for standard spellcheckers you can find in Word though. Grammarly goes a lot further. It checks whatever you write against common grammar issues, style issues, and a lot more. There are actually 250+ types of errors that Grammarly can recognize.

            Why use it?

            This isn’t only a tool for freelance bloggers or writers. Grammarly works everywhere, which means that through a web browser plugin, it can also help you write emails, forum posts, blog comments, or whatever else. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how important it is to always send grammatically correct emails to your clients!

            6. Lightshot

            lightshot

              Lightshot is my secret screenshot tool. It works on Mac and Windows and it’s more than easy to use. It hooks up to your system’s native screenshot functionality (e.g. on Windows it’s the Print Screen key, on Mac it’s Command+Shift+9). So when I press Print Screen, Lightshot takes over and lets me select the area I want in the screenshot. Then, I can annotate things with arrows, borders, custom text. After that, I can save the image, share it on social media, or copy it to clipboard.

              Why use it?

              Taking screenshots is probably something you’re doing fairly often. Either you want to show something to your client, include an image in a proposal, or even post it on a blog, no matter what it might be, taking screenshots without a dedicated tool is a hassle. With Lightshot, it only takes a couple of clicks.

              7. Swipes

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              swipes

                Swipes is a simple, yet effective to-do list app that somehow manages to stand out in a crowded marketplace. There’s more than enough such apps out there, but what makes Swipes different is its ease of use, and its integration with Evernote. You can create new tasks in Evernote and then act on them in Swipes.

                Why use it?

                The problem with to-do list apps is that they are only somewhat integrated with other tools. On one hand, you can export your things from one tool to another, but you can never be sure that some single task won’t get lost in the shuffle every once in a while. Swipes was built specifically to talk with Evernote, so the integration works without any hiccups.

                8. Ninja Outreach

                ninjaoutreach

                  Ninja Outreach is an advanced outreach tool. This means, it helps you discover people worth reaching out to (for various purposes), check their reputation, and then even contact them directly.

                  Why use it?

                  Outreach is an integral part of being a freelancer – no matter if we’re talking client outreach or blogger outreach. The downside of outreach is that it can take a lot of time. First you have to find a sufficient number of contacts, then evaluate their reputation, then find their contact data, and only then you can actually send them a message. With Ninja Outreach, each of these steps can be taken care of quicker and in a more efficient manner.

                  9. LastPass

                  lastpass

                    LastPass is the best free password manager on the market. As simple as that. In short, it lets you manage all your passwords (for apps, services, tools, etc.) and make them accessible to you through browser plugins and mobile apps.

                    Why use it?

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                    As a freelancer, you’re likely working on a couple of different devices and probably have your user accounts on tens if not hundreds of sites. Then, there are also profiles related to your client work, for instance, your profiles on their websites where you need to submit your work. You can’t have weak passwords set on those, yet remembering a complex one is impossible. This is where LastPass comes into play. It takes care of keeping your login credentials in a safe place and gives you access to everything through one master password.

                    10. CoSchedule

                    coschedule

                      CoSchedule is your top tool for creating and managing a publishing schedule and then setting social media updates for each publication you release. It offers a lot of advanced features that every editor will appreciate.

                      Why use it?

                      Granted, this one is more useful for freelance writers, bloggers, and businesses working with websites on WordPress. Where CoSchedule stands out is delivering you a smart scheduling feature that focuses on building a whole marketing strategy around the content you’re publishing. This is something your clients will surely be interested in.

                      11. Shopify

                      shopify

                        Let’s skip to the “why use it” part right away.

                        Shopify is perhaps a surprising entry, since it’s an e-commerce solution, but it can actually be very useful for a freelancer. Among its many features – just see the reviews – Shopify lets you sell not only products, but also services. This means that you can create a handful of standardized services that are the most popular with your clients.

                        During your proposal and negotiation process, you can send the client over to your Shopify store and let them choose the services they need. Keep in mind that you get to use all the standard e-commerce features here, which can help you improve your conversion rates. For instance, you can offer discounts, coupons, or anything else an online store owner would do.

                        What should find its place as the entry #12 on this list? Feel free to share your picks in the comments.

                        More by this author

                        Karol Krol

                        Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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                        Last Updated on February 17, 2021

                        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                        50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                        If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

                        No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

                        Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

                        1. Set a Timer

                        Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

                        In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

                        2. Eliminate All Distractions

                        Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

                        You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                        3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

                        Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

                        Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

                        Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

                        4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

                        Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

                        If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

                        5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

                        By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

                        Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

                        6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

                        Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

                        7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

                        Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

                        Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

                        Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

                        8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

                        To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

                        Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

                        Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

                        9. Don’t Multitask

                        Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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                        For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

                        10. Step Away from the Computer

                        The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

                        I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

                        11. Use Focus Tools

                        Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

                        Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

                        Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

                        12. Just Start

                        Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

                        Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

                        13. Find out Your Productive Hours

                        Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

                        Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

                        14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

                        This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

                        15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

                        The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

                        When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

                        And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

                        16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

                        I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

                        Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

                        17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

                        The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

                        Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

                        18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

                        As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

                        “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

                        This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

                        19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

                        I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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                        Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

                        20. Get Plenty of Sleep

                        When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

                        Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                        21. Exercise

                        Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

                        Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

                        Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

                        22. Outsource as Much as Possible

                        If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

                        Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                        23. Set Some Exciting Goals

                        Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

                        Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

                        24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                        When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                        25. Listen to Podcasts

                        Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                        Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                        Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                        26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                        This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                        Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                        27. Learn to Speed Read

                        When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                        You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                        28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                        When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

                        Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                        29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                        Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                        We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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                        30. Take a Break

                        You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                        31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                        What is polyphasic sleep?

                        Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                        While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                        32. Learn to Say “No”.

                        We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                        Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                        33. Go on an Information Diet

                        Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                        Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                        The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                        34. Organize Your Office

                        The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                        Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

                        35. Find a Mentor

                        By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                        A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                        36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                        With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                        When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                        Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                        Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                        37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                        Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                        You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                        38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                        If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                        Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

                        How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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                        39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                        Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                        Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                        40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                        Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                        Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                        41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                        When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                        Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                        42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                        The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                        Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                        43. Take Shorter Showers

                        This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                        44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                        Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                        45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                        How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                        Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                        46. Shop Online

                        Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                        47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

                        Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                        If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                        48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                        If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                        Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                        49. Turn off the TV

                        The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                        For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                        Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                        50. Use a Tivo or DVR

                        This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                        So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                        More Time Management Tips

                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                        Reference

                        [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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