Top 7 Productivity Apps for the Self-Employed
While many people’s favorite apps involve matching sets of candies, launching birds at unstable structures, or chasing around lovable pocket monsters, as an independent contractor you don’t always have the luxury of whittling away time with a game during the day. Luckily, there’s another category of apps that are equally engaging—and can help you maximize productivity.
We’ve assembled a list of 7 apps to assist with some of the most important parts of your daily work life. These apps can help with the collaboration, organization, and dedication it takes it takes to be an independent professional.
Task management app Todoist is an organization master for independent professionals on the go. Create projects along with task to-do lists, sub-tasks, and color-coded priorities. Todoist is a cloud-based service, so it will integrate wherever you have it enabled, whether that’s your tablet, smartwatch, or Gmail or Outlook inbox.
Expert tip: Todoist uses natural language inputs. If you want a task to reoccur every Monday at 9 a.m., simply type “every Monday at 9 a.m.” into the title of your task, and Todoist will automatically schedule the reoccurrence.
Monitor Social Media
Maintaining an active social media presence can be an essential part of your marketing strategy, but monitoring your accounts can also cut into valuable time. Use Buffer to create a queue of posts for all your social networks for the day, week, or beyond. Customize messages for each account, pick the time and date you want your posts to go live, or let Buffer decide when to post.
Expert tip: Receive a weekly analytics report via email to see how your posts have been performing for each of your social profiles.
Simplify Daily Tasks
Imagine if after a big networking event you automatically received an email reminder to follow up with your new contacts, or if your work hours were seamlessly logged in a spreadsheet each day. IFTTT—short for If This, Then That—automates daily tasks by acting as a messenger between services and apps you use every day like Dropbox, Google Drive, social media accounts, and Todoist. IFTTT uses ‘Applets,’ combinations of triggers and actions, to complete tasks you set up. Choose from existing Applets or create your own to start optimizing your workflow.
Expert tip: Try these simple IFTTT Applets to give you back some time during the day:
- Stay in touch with fans by listing all new Twitter followers in a spreadsheet
- Keep finances organized by saving receipts you receive via email to your Dropbox
- Remember to send a response with automatic reminders for any email you flag
Mind mapping is a visual way to present a big concept along with ideas, plans, words, or images that relate to the main topic. If you’re stuck in a creative rut, graphically planning out hierarchies and establishing relationships between pieces of a whole can help you more easily visualize a new idea or plan out how to tackle an upcoming project. With MindMeister, create a mind map right on your smartphone and customize each idea branch with different icons, colors, and text styles.
Expert tip: Invite collaborators to simultaneously edit a map by using MindMeister’s “brainstorming mode.”
For independent professionals who charge their clients by the hour, HoursTracker is an invaluable tool. It allows users to list their various clients, as well as how much they are charging each one per hour. Clock in and clock out when you begin and finish work for a specific client. The app tracks time spent on each project as well as a running total of how much money has been made that day.
Expert tip: If you work at a client site, HoursTracker allows you to set job locations and uses geolocation data to automatically record your time entries when you come and go.
As an independent contractor, you are likely juggling multiple projects at any given time. Freedcamp is a completely free project management tool that can help you manage your business on a budget. Get projects up and running quickly, track costs, and upload corresponding documents. If you’re collaborating with others, set project due dates, create personalized task lists, and participate in discussion boards.
Expert tip: Give your clients real-time updates on the status of their project with “client mode,” so your clients only see what’s relevant to them.
One of the benefits of being independent is that you to work from where you want, but that can make it tricky to handle spur-of-the-moment client meetings or calls. Be prepared to meet with clients anywhere and anytime with GoToMeeting. The app version of GoToMeeting allows you to attend or host meetings on a smartphone or tablet and easily send invites via email or text.
Expert tip: The GoToMeeting app also features video conferencing and allows you to participate in screen-shares.