I’ve been working as a freelancer for over a year now, and I’ve experimented with a lot of productivity apps. Here are the ones that have stuck with me.
My bread and butter. This is an organizational web app that allows you to create multiple “boards” on which you create multiple “lists” and then add “cards” to those lists. I have a board for each of my editing gigs, using it to track projects and clients. The cards can get incredibly detailed: you can add descriptions, images, links, files, checklists, and comments. Trello is also collaborative, so you can share boards with other users. For example, I share my REUTS board with friend and boss-lady Kisa Whipkey, so she sees my status comments on those REUTS projects.
I also use Trello for writing. I have lists of each set of novels, and each card on those lists represents one novel. I use the cards for outlining and brainstorming. You can also label the card with custom, color-coded labels; mine include plotting, drafting, editing, querying, etc.
It’s basically the best.
Toggl is a super easy to use time-keeping app. You can set up clients and projects, and then give them detailed labels. As an example, I have a client, Curiosity Quills, and underneath that a project, Editing; and then every time I work on that project, I can label it the name of whatever manuscript I’m working on.
You can either run the timer, on the web page or on an iphone app, or you can add time later–I obviously prefer to use the timer. Toggl also has the ability to generate weekly, monthly, and yearly reports, which is really handy when you’re trying to explain how many freelance hours you work to your student loan holders.
StayFocused is a Chrome extension that allows you to block time-wasting websites, and it gives you a lot of flexibility with how and when and which sites. You can set it to block, say, Facebook after you’ve spent 30 minutes on the site. Or, you can block Tumblr completely between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday. You also have the “nuclear option” which allows you to block ALL the websites (or all except your list of approved sites) for a certain length of time.
I, shamefully, do not use StayFocused much anymore, but it’s really great for making you limit your time on distracting websites, and I will use it if I catch myself dawdling too much.
Wave is a site with several levels of financial apps for small businesses, including invoicing, accounting, and payroll. My husband (aka my bookkeeper <3) and I are still experimenting with this one, but so far I love the user interface and how easily it integrates with PayPal. Plus, it’s, you know. Free.
This is an app that I am DYING to use more, especially since they just made HipChat Basic free for unlimited users (before you were limited to five). This is a permanent chatroom app, basically, which I love, because I’m totally sick of absurd email threads. It’s web-based, which means you don’t have to download anything to your computer, though you do have the option of doing that.
I’d love to see more places using this app, especially small internet-based publishers, so that staff can talk in real time the way they would in an office. You form groups, add users, and then you can set up different chat rooms within those groups.
What are your favorite productivity apps? Drop names in the comments!