I don’t know about you, but when I started my freelance journey I felt bewildered by all the managerial tasks I had to do. That was before I’d even begun working on my client’s tasks.
Maybe you’re just starting your business and feel the same way.
I asked my networking contacts how they coped with it all and was promptly given a list of apps and tools they used to keep on top of things.
Problem is, I ended up with a list of hundreds of tools.
Now, this would have been great if I’d had the time to look at them all, but time was something I most definitely didn’t have!
I sat down and really thought about the tasks I had, ensured I had clear processes in place for dealing with them and considered why these jobs might take so long. Some of it was because I was new and still learning, others were always going to be time-consuming.
It was the ones that sapped my energy and time that I knew I had to find a better way of doing things.
Eventually, through trial and error, I came up with this list of seven essential tools that help me manage my business.
Teamwork is a task management app that’s quick and easy to use.
I’m able to create a new project for my client, assign the tasks required, milestones to meet and invite them onboard to send messages directly in the dashboard (no more lost emails to worry about!)
It also enables me to keep track of the hours I spend working on those projects, something that can be tricky when you’re working from home!
It’s free for a basic account so definitely worth trying if you’re still relying on paper or emails to organise things.
Trello is another task management tool but this one is great for the initial stages of a new project – creating ideas and planning.
It’s a very visual tool using a drag and drop card-based system – you create a new card for each idea or task, add a checklist of actions, due dates and any attachments necessary and move it to the ‘tried list’ when complete.
The great thing about Trello is the ability to add in third-party apps to make things even easier. Dropbox, Google Drive, MailChimp and OneDrive are just a few you can add to save time, and keep everything together in one place.
Social media management and marketing is one of the most time-consuming tasks for any business owner.
HootSuite is great because it enables you to manage all your social media profiles and pages in one place. But it gets even better. You can pull out particular aspects of your social media for even greater control – so on your twitter account, you can have your feed, your scheduled posts, recent posts, mentions by other people, your message inbox, etc.
Scheduling social media posts in advance is really what Hootsuite is all about.
You can schedule up to 30 social media posts in advance across 3 profiles with the free plan (there are paid options that offer more benefits).
This means you can spend just an hour planning and scheduling posts for the rest of the week, and monitor how well they’ve performed.
I use Microsoft’s OneDrive when I’m out and about to scan receipts on my phone, they’re then placed in cloud storage for when I’m ready to take care of the bookkeeping.
I use OneDrive because it’s free within my Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
As my business expands and I need to monitor my accounts more closely, I’ll probably opt for a premium accounting tool like QuickBooks.
QuickBooks is a phone and web-based app that looks after everything you need for your books – receipts, mileage, HMRC self-assessment and VAT and worth a look if you want to move beyond spreadsheets for your accounts.
You’ve probably heard of the ‘Pomodoro technique’. It’s great for focused work sessions and getting things done when you’re struggling with motivation or procrastination.
Pomodoro requires you to work in bursts of 25 minutes – on one task, and without interruption. You then take a 5-minute break to clear your head. This cycle continues until the fourth 25-minute session, at which point you take a 20-minute break.
Tomato Timer is simply a website that acts as a timer and logs these sessions for you, so you can keep track of where you are in the Pomodoro sequence.
Once you’ve done this a few times you’ll get a feel for how many 25-minute sessions are needed to finish a task, and can start planning your time more effectively.
When I take on a new client I want a quick and easy way for them to read and sign my contract, and DigiSigner does just that!
It’s as simple as uploading the document, adding your own signature and inviting your client to add theirs.
It is legally binding and fully encrypted so I highly recommend it.
Data collection can be a tricky task. When you need information to start or finish a task, and your client keeps meaning to email it across but it never seems to arrive…
Google forms enables you to create a quick and simple online based form that your client can simply copy and paste the info into, from anywhere they have web access.
No more waiting for unanswered emails lying at the bottom of their inbox!
I hope you’ve found this list of tools useful, and that by adding just one of them into your working process will enable you to save time, and become more productive. If you’re still struggling to get ahead, why not outsource your troublesome tasks to a trusty VA? Contact me today for a friendly chat.