Making the decision to become a freelance worker can often be pretty stressful. Freelance work comes with a unique set of challenges, and making sure that you have all the tools you need to prepare is key.
Harnessing technology to make any part of your job easier—no matter how small—can have a large impact on your ability to get the job done. Whether you’re working from home, working with several clients or just one, try these technology tips to keep your workflow on track, and help you meet your freelancing goals.
1. Take full advantage of different apps
There are many different applications and programs that freelancers should be using. Some help you work more efficiently, others aim to make sure that everything behind the scenes is taken care of but they can all help keep everything organized.
The G-Suite of products is one of the most well-known groups of apps on the internet. Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar; all of these are very powerful when used correctly. Using them all in tandem can be incredibly valuable as they allow you to sync all of your documents and store them in one place, while also allowing you to access and edit documents regardless of where your freelance work might take you.
Trello is a web-based app that allows you to best organize your projects however you see fit. With a variety of ways to break up projects into smaller tasks, check off each aspect of a project, and leave comments for later review, it offers a variety of helpful tools. Trello lets you create a “board” for each idea or project, making it easy to organize and stay on top of your most active projects.
Mint might not help you with your work directly, but it will save you time and relieve stress by having all of your financial information in one place Considering how hectic freelancing can become, having one single place where you can keep track of all your finances, plan and monitor your budget, and track your spending in different categories can help your stay on track and focus on your work.
2. Utilize the power of the Cloud
Working in the cloud is essentially a must for freelancers. The flexibility to adapt on the fly that it offers is unbeatable. The cloud allows you to access all your work from home, on the road, in an airport, or wherever you are to ensure you never fall behind on deadlines.
Google Drive isn’t necessarily the clear front-runner in this category, but it’s still a very good candidate. Included in the aforementioned G-Suite of products, having a connection with all the other programs can streamline your work process. Its strength lies in its ability to allow for simultaneous collaboration with others, and to share data and information back and forth, regardless of location.
Dropbox, one of the main rivals of Google Drive, also allows freelancers to upload and download files directly from the cloud. Dropbox is perfect for files that aren’t native to any Google applications, such as Powerpoint presentations, images, video files, etc. Dropbox does have one clear advantage, which lies in its ability to sync files at a much faster rate than Google Drive.
The sweet spot lies in taking full advantage of both offerings. Both Google Drive and Dropbox have the option to create free accounts, which means you can use the strengths of both. As a freelancer, you might have a client that prefers one or the other, and making sure that you are knowledgeable on both can help you decide the best one to use for any given situation.
When using the cloud, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to know that your connection is secure. Leaving any work-related or private information vulnerable to hackers would be a big mistake, and one that people would absolutely take advantage of. Using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a great way to hide your IP address, but for something a little more secure look into some cloud-based SD-WAN options.
3. Use your online calendar the right way
Using an online calendar is a great way to keep your life in order but it’s important to know some of the right and wrong ways of using it.
Once you confirm a meeting, be in the habit of placing it on your calendar right away. Forgetting a meeting looks unprofessional and could lead to losing a client. Remember to be detailed when creating the calendar invite; include the person’s name, date, and relevant notes for the call.
Try to avoid cluttering up your calendar with any personal goals or “to-do” items for the day. This can become confusing and overwhelming. If you like to keep track of “to-do” items or goals for the day, try using a separate tool, like Todoist or pen and paper if you prefer an old school approach.
“Subscribe” to the calendars of other individuals that you work with frequently. As a freelancer, everyone’s schedule can get convoluted, and being able to see when your clients or your contractors are free can help you better plan out your own day. It also might help you see what projects others are currently working on which can provide you with a clear understanding of best times for communication and collaboration.
Life as a freelancer offers many advantages like being able to create your own schedule. However, if you aren’t organized it can become hectic and overwhelming. Using a variety of the apps at your disposal can help you become highly organized and efficient. This can lead to producing even more work with the extra time and professionalism that it will create when communicating with prospective clients.