I’ve been self-employed for over four years now, first with the store and then with my brand marketing consulting business. While I had virtually always functioned as an independent department within the companies I worked for prior to that, being self-employed is a totally different ball game in terms of motivation, time management, and organization. Outside of being self-employed, I also have to make sure that Nez, Tommy and I are taken care of with food, keeping our house running, paying bills, etc., so there’s that too… All of this is to say that it’s helpful to find a few tools or apps that work for you to keep things organized and functioning. Here are my go-to’s!
When you work freelance, a big part of the process is on-boarding and time tracking. While I know quite a few people like Honeybook, I think And.Co is super easy and intuitive. There’s an app for your phone that you can use like a stopwatch to track time, there are contract & proposal templates that you can edit as needed, easy invoicing (as a note, I started invoicing recently through Quickbooks, which I’ll talk about later), income & expense tracking, and reports. I use And.Co primarily for the proposals and contracts, as well as time tracking, but it’s nice to have everything in one place. Clients sign contracts digitally, so it saves copies of all past contracts within the site. Here’s a link to get $20 off if you want to try it out!
Asana is a project management tool that I’ve used loosely in the past but am now using daily for one of the clients I work with. It’s an incredible way to plot out marketing or event pipelines and break down individuals tasks within that pipeline. You can communicate about the projects directly within the site so that you don’t have to hunt down emails later. Once you’ve completed a task, you can check it off the list (super gratifying, of course) and while I’d primarily suggest it for a team, I think it would also be beneficial to track different clients and work projects as well (thinking I might start doing that now!).
Spark Mail App
I’m a Mac user and had always either used Gmail or Mac’s Mail app for emails, but the game was changed when I downloaded Spark for my phone and laptop. While it might take a minute to get used to, I think it’s the most effective organizational mail system I’ve found. You can see all of your accounts together or separately (I have 5 emails!), and it breaks each inbox down by direct emails (‘Hey- did you pick up dog food?’), Notifications (‘Completed Task In Asana), Newsletters (‘Whole Foods 3 Day Sale!’) and Pins (emails that I want marked as read but I still need to follow up on). I also like that I can schedule emails to send later (probably available elsewhere, but hey). All in all, I won’t be going back to another mail server any time soon.
I know there are a lot of To-Do List tools out there, but Wunderlist is my go to. When we first had the baby, I used it to create grocery lists that my husband and I both had access to, so when I was still immobile, Tommy knew what to get. Beyond that, I’ve used it for work and life tasks for a while. I could be more organized and create new lists for different projects or clients, but really what I do is have one running list with my big to-dos on it, with important notes or details saved within each task. You can assign due dates that will ping you on your phone. I have the app on my phone and laptop so I can make adjustments wherever I am. The sound it makes when you complete a task is music to my ears!
This is definitely the least sexy app but the most important when it comes to tracking my consulting finances (I used it for the store when I had it as well). I connect Quickbooks with my credit card and bank account so I can quickly review and categorize expenses and income. I also send out my invoices since it automatically adds in a transaction fee for credit card processing. It’s a nice place to understand profit and loss, expenses, and tax info.
Squarespace is favorite for creating portfolio or service websites (I prefer Shopify for e-commerce). It’s relatively affordable, somewhat intuitive, and has nice templates available. It honestly took me a while to get used to making updates for my site since I was used to Shopify from when I built my store’s website, but once I got it, it was pretty straight forward. I would highly suggest that anyone looking to start a business turn here first.
Planoly is awesome if you’re juggling multiple social media accounts for yourself or for clients. You can plug in and schedule posts, with the option to have the post go up automatically vs pinging your phone to tell you it’s time to post. It also provides analytics to see what’s performing well and what’s not. When I join on with a new client, it’s the first thing I ask them if they’re using since it helps with time management and makes social media something you can plot in advance versus having to check in on daily.
This is my OG, non-digital love. Appointed notebooks are so pretty and sturdy. I have one that I use for all note taking for every clients, and it’s nice to be able to go back and review everything I’ve worked on in one place. Nothing feels quite as good as crossing something off a hand-written list, am I right?!
Well, that’s my list. Any other time saving or organizational tools that you love? Share them with me!