The global freelance market continues to expand at an increasing rate. That’s because professionals are growing to appreciate the freedom and wealth that comes with the gig economy.
Upwork estimates that freelance work will make up the majority of the US’ workforce by 2027.
If you’re a freelancer or want to join the profession, there are productivity tools you should consider adding to your arsenal to use while you work from home.
Time trackers provide you with data about how you spend time on tasks and other activities, including meetings. They also help you provide accurate timesheets for clients, track your billable hours, and automatically create invoices.
A time tracking app can double as a productivity tracker since it shows you how fast – or slow – you are when executing tasks. It also helps you identify time-wasting activities, showing what to avoid to increase work focus.
So what are the best time trackers you can use?
Traqq time tracker is a unique time tracking tool that allows you to use all its premium features for free. You’re only expected to go for the paid version if you want to use more than three accounts.
The app focuses on ethical time-tracking, automatic timesheet creation, invoicing, and productivity tracking.
If you manage a remote team, you can use Traqq to monitor work progress, edit time reports, and assign roles and permissions.
The app routinely records screen time and takes screenshots to discourage time theft. However, it blurs the shots to preserve the user’s privacy.
It provides a detailed analysis of how much time you spend on apps and websites, allowing you to track your productivity and identify activities that waste your time.
2. Toggl Track
Toggl Track is another time tracker that comes with many free features. These features make it ideal for freelancers who don’t want to blow their budgets on a time tracker.
You’ll have access to all its digital apps on Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and web. It also has a browser extension.
The browser extension allows you to automate your time tracking. You can configure it to automatically start tracking time once you open the browser and stop when you close it.
The app also allows you to correct your recorded time if it notices that your computer has been idle for a while. This way, you can significantly reduce incorrect time records.
It comes with other rich features such as the Pomodoro time management technique and allows you to integrate with other platforms such as Google Calendar and Slack.
Project management tools make you more efficient when handling complex projects. You can use them to streamline your workflow, collaborate with clients, and track task and project progress.
Many project management tools even help you with creating and tracking your budget for the project. They can also help with expense tracking, resource management, and team monitoring.
There are many great project management tools built for freelancers and small teams.
Asana uses a Kanban-style interface, and it’s dubbed one of the best project management tools because of its ease-of-use and user-friendly interface. You can onboard your team and set the tool up in a matter of minutes.
Its easy-to-use design doesn’t mean it lacks the features necessary to handle any type of project.
The powerful free tier supports features such as project management, messaging, unlimited teams, multiple project views, file storage, activity logs, and more.
Its timeline view also makes it a great tool for managing project dependencies.
As a freelancer, you’ll be able to enjoy the tool for free without the need to ever upgrade, unless you need to integrate more than 15 team members.
The main downside to Asana is that it doesn’t have features that come with full-scale project management tools. For example, you can’t use it for resource and expense tracking and budgeting.
Trello is another Kanban-style tool. However it lets you customize your Kanban boards, and its drag-and-drop feature makes using it a breeze.
Its mobile app is also sophisticated, as you can use it to perform virtually every task you can carry out on the desktop app.
The tool comes with an automation bot, known as Butler, to help you automate processes and make work easier. You can configure the bot to send notifications, remind you about due dates, and move cards from one column to the next.
That said, some useful features require you to purchase add-ons. They include time tracking and billing.
You need a file-sharing platform to effectively collaborate with your clients and even colleagues. Sometimes, you may need to share important files and even edit them on the go.
File-sharing platforms allow you to store, send, and synchronize files. Some even allow you to edit and work on documents in real-time, allowing you to collaborate remotely.
6. Google Drive
Google’s file-sharing platform is one of the most popular for freelancers. If you have a Google account, you’ll enjoy free 15 GB of storage. This storage space counts towards everything you do using your account, from Gmail to photos and file-sharing.
With Google’s collaboration apps, such as Docs and Sheets, you’re able to collaborate with others remotely and edit documents in real-time.
As time goes on, you may have to upgrade your Google account once your 15 GB storage is exhausted.
Google Drive also has other exciting features. You can create folders and assign access to those you want to. If you work with large files, even better. Instead of using emails, you can send and receive large files by sending links to recipients.
OneDrive’s tight integration with Windows 10 and 11 makes it an ideal cloud storage solution for the operating system’s users.
That said, OneDrive also has apps for other platforms, including Android, iOS, Mac, and even Xbox.
While you get only 5 GB, which is meager compared to Google’s 15 GB, you still have access to a rich suite of features.
With Microsoft’s Office365, you can use online Office tools such as Word, Excel, powerPoint, and Access to collaborate with others.
OneDrive also allows you to backup files and collaborate using multiple devices.
Communication is the backbone of remote work, and as a freelancer, you must communicate with clients to share updates and stay in touch.
As it turns out, there are different communication tools that you can rely on for effective collaboration.
Slack is one of the biggest names when it comes to remote communication and among the best for freelancers.
Slack channels are among its most powerful features. You can organize and track your ongoing communications effectively. It’s easier to categorize clients according to channels, keeping them separate and maintaining a clean communications workspace.
You can use the app on your desktop, browser, and mobile device, making sure you’re always available and in touch.
Another good thing is that Slack integrates with file-sharing platforms like Google Drive, project management tools like Asana, and scheduling apps like Google Calendar.
When it comes to video and audio conferencing, Zoom is among the big names in the remote working space.
You have access to advanced and secure video and audio calling features. You are able to hop on meetings with clients and stakeholders and share your screen to communicate with visual representations.
Zoom is available on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Web.
10. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool designed to foster communication between remote team members. As it turns out, it also offers great features for freelancers as well as companies that work with freelancers..
If you use a Windows 11 device, you’ll find the Teams icon couched in your taskbar by default. That said, you can also access the platform on other operating systems, including mobile.
Using Microsoft Teams means you’ll have a SharePoint site to organize files you share during conversations. You can also be added to your clients’ Teams as they can grant you restricted access when you communicate with employees.
Being a freelancer means you’ll have to wear different hats and juggle many different roles and responsibilities. As a result, you’ll have to keep track of appointments and engagements. That’s why you need an effective scheduling app to help you stay on top of things and never miss a critical meeting.
11. Google Calendar
Having a Google account means you can enjoy the features of Google Calendar alongside Google Drive and Gmail. The calendar integrates with project management and communication tools to ensure you never miss a notification.
The app has a machine learning feature that learns your routine and helps you schedule better, and you can easily share your calendar with others to simplify things.
Knowing the right tools to use not only makes your freelancing career easier but also boosts your productivity significantly. While you don’t have to use all the tools listed here, ensure you are able to identify those that suit your work process.