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14 Productivity Tools for Freelancers to Optimise Workflow

14 Productivity Tools for Freelancers to Optimise Workflow
anoosh-kotak
Anoosh Kotak22 December 2023

Remote’s Global Freelancer Report 2023 revealed that 58% of the surveyed freelancers find time management a significant challenge in growing their business. 

While freelancing offers flexibility and autonomy, working independently can impact efficiency and productivity as freelancers are sole entrepreneurs. They face challenges in setting priorities and focusing on urgent tasks. 

Hence, productivity tools, project management tools, or collaboration tools are the best catalysts to improve freelance workflow.

This guide explains how to manage freelance workflow using productivity tools and strategies. It also suggests various tools for automating repetitive tasks.

Essential Productivity Tools for Freelancers

The list of the most popular productivity tools to streamline workflow and increase freelance efficiency is as follows.

1. Task and Project Management Tools

a. Trello

A popular cloud-based project management tool, Trello converts projects and tasks into a visual landscape by creating different cards. It allows you to create multiple boards for various projects using customisable templates.

You can add a checklist for each card and mention the start and due dates to track your projects.

b. Asana

Asana is similar to Trello, where you can create different boards and cards to manage your tasks. However, Trello is a Kanban board, more suited for freelancers and small teams. (Kanban is a Japanese workflow management method that works on four functions - visualise the work, limit the work in progress (WIP), focus on flow and continuous improvement.)

Asana, on the contrary, can work better for freelancers managing a large team as it streamlines collaboration and allows better customising.

c. Basecamp

This minimalistic tool allows freelancers to manage all their activities in one place. Basecamp provides a message board for important updates and a to-do list for each project that the entire team can access.

Moreover, Basecamp offers several features like group chat, call/event scheduling and automated check-ins. The most significant Basecamp feature is that it facilitates seamless integration with other collaboration tools like Slack and Google Workspace.

2. Communication and Collaboration Tools

a. Slack

Clear and effective client communication is one of the highest hassles for freelancers. Misaligned expectations lead to challenges in producing desired results. To avoid these hurdles, use Slack, one of the best collaboration tools that enables real-time client communication.

Slack also provides a customisable and comprehensive workflow builder for automating repetitive tasks.

b. Zoom

Client communication has never been easier for freelancers. Rather than communicating with clients over long email threads to understand their requirements, you can conveniently get on a Zoom call and record meetings for enhanced communication.

c. Google Workspace

With over 3 million users worldwide, Google Workspace is a popular collaboration platform for freelancers.

It offers various communication and collaboration tools like Gmail for quick communication, Google Meet for client and team meetings, Google Docs for work collaboration, and Google Sheets to prepare workflow, track activities and for automating repetitive tasks.

d. NotionNotion

Another great project management tool, it offers a comprehensive and customisable workspace and productivity pack to manage clients and improve efficiency. Its features include interactive templates and a drag-and-drop interface. 

You can add documents on Notion and share them with your clients for review, assign tasks and add client information to the Notion database. You can also use Notion as a client management software and content calendar.

3. Time Tracking and Invoicing Tools

a. Toggl Track

Toggl can be easily integrated with Google or Outlook calendars to view the number of hours you spend on various projects. It can auto-track app and browser activity even when you are offline.

Toggl helps freelancers manage their time and boost efficiency. Moreover, it tracks billable minutes, benefitting freelancers working on an hourly basis.

b. Clockify

Clockify is another popular time-tracking software that tracks real-time work hours, creates weekly timesheets, blocks calendars to manage time and automatically tracks the apps and websites in the background.

Its report feature creates work reports and offers valuable insights into time requirements for various tasks. Thus, it can help with automating repetitive tasks. 

c. FreshBooks

It is a payment solution which comprises features like automated invoicing, payment and time-tracking, bookkeeping, report generation and managing expenses and receipts. 

FreshBooks also helps with client communication by allowing freelancers to create estimates (based on project requirements) that you can convert into invoices.

d. Skydo

It is an all-in-one payment solution for freelancers and businesses that automates invoicing and eases payment processes. With Skydo, international payments are faster and streamlined. 

Once your international client remits the payment through the Skydo account, you will receive the payment in your account within 48 hours along with the FIRA document, which is paramount in tax compliance.

You can also easily send payment reminders and receive timely payments from international clients with Skydo.

4. File Management and Cloud Storage Tools

a. DropboxDropbox

Freelancing involves a lot of paperwork, documents, client files, reports, case studies, and project documents. These can be stored and managed with Dropbox.

Freelancers can use Dropbox to store client information and project documents. You can also send clients folder invitations to share onboarding material and work-related documents. 

b. Google Drive

Google Drive is one of the most secure and efficient cloud storage spaces for freelancers because it supports remote document access from any device. You can easily collaborate, share, manage, and download documents and sheets from Google Drive.

c. OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is also one of the most popular storage and collaboration tools. It works the same as Google Drive. Freelancers can create multiple folders and documents and manage remote access.

Automation for Efficiency

Freelancers are a one-man army, focusing simultaneously on several things ranging from finding and managing clients to offering services and invoicing. A significant part of the workflow includes administrative or repetitive tasks that can be automated to enhance efficiency.

Automating repetitive tasks such as email management, invoice sending and payment tracking, scheduling appointments, task management and data entry and reporting can reduce work pressure and streamline workflow.

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