Juggling time is an issue that myself and many other freelancers face. How do you prioritize, and get stuff done efficiently? I’ve tested out a number of tools along the way. Here are some that I find the most useful.
1. Google Apps for Work
I use Google Apps for Work and find it invaluable. It comes with a suite of tools, including:
Gmail for business – I can access it from any device and it is always available.
Google Drive cloud storage, which lets me share documents easily between devices and with other people. Here are some tips on improving productivity with Google Drive.
Google Calendar, where I plan out my appointments and can get email reminders and pop-ups on my mobile.
Google Apps for Work has a 30 day free trial and thereafter costs £3.30 per month or £33/year plus tax per user.
I wrote about Sortd in a previous blog post – it’s a Chrome extension that creates a to-do list from your emails. It’s really helpful for organizing your Inbox and letting you see what the priority tasks are each day.
Sortd is free, but you need an invite if you want to use it right away. Read my post for how to get one.
I use Freckle for time tracking. It’s a huge improvement on the Excel spreadsheet I had before where I noted down start and end times, and had to calculate the time spent myself.
Freckle lets you track time by project. You start the timer and it will keep track of the time spent. The timer can be paused at any time. When you finish a task, you log the time with hashtags e.g. #email.
You can also enter time increments manually. You can choose whether the time spent is billable or unbillable time. Freckle will also generate reports and invoices for you.
Freckle is available on a 14 day free trial, after which you pay monthly or annually to use it. You can use it for teams as well.
I’m interested in looking at 17hats, too, which lets you do time tracking and many other freelance tasks.
IFTTT stands for, “If this, then do that”. It’s a free service that allows you to integrate apps and set various rules for automation of tasks. This is done through “recipes”.
“Do” recipes which run automatically e.g. “Save receipts to Evernote.”
“If” recipes run if some condition is met, then something else will happen e.g. “Mute my Android device when I get to the office & turn on vibrate.”
There are hundreds of recipes to search through and use, or you can create your own. I have some Twitter recipes enabled which also use Google Drive.
Buffer is a really user-friendly app for social media automation. You can connect it to a number of social media accounts and send out your updates at predetermined times. It’s free to use.
Buffer works with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, but not Instagram or Pinterest.
The free plan is great, but you can upgrade to their Awesome Plan if you want more features.
Buffer also has a built-in social media image creation tool, Pablo. I created this image very quickly using it.
6. Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a way of organising time into blocks, each known as a “pomodoro” from the Italian for tomato. The idea is to block out the working day into these manageable chunks, before your brain gets tired! After the completion of each pomodoro, you take a 5 minute break. After 4, you take a longer break.
The website features a blog and courses, and you can buy a book and a tomato-shaped timer to keep your timing right!
7. Eisenhower Method
The Eisenhower Method is named after President Dwight Eisenhower, who was a hugely productive man. Eisenhower said:
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
He organised his daily activities into various boxes:
- Important and Urgent – emergencies, fire fighting.
- Important and Not Urgent – valuable things with no imminent deadline.
- Not Important and Urgent – usually tasks someone else thinks you should do right away.
- Not Important and Not Urgent – time-wasting, procrastination.
The idea is to spend as much time as you can in quadrant 2 – important and not urgent – as this is where the really fulfilling work gets done.
Read more about the Eisenhower Box in James Clear’s article.
What effective time management tools do you use? Please let me know.