Saturday, April 19, 2014

Organize Your Daily Freelance Life With These 5 Practical Apps

A busy freelance career has no room for boredom routine. Most of the time, if not all the time, freelancers find something to get busy. During busy days, our hands are tied with one to couple or more projects. During lean season , we try to catch up with reading or learning about our industry, business trends and upgrading our skills.

A freelancer's schedule looks like he/she is busy all the time, which is actually the reason why most freelancers stick to their career--we simply love to get busy or productive. And, we are passionate in helping our clients, we love to earn (yeah, of course, we love to earn $$$), and we like build to our reputation in the business.

Here's a scenario:

8:00 am                 Wake up [yawning], start the day!
8:05 - 8:35 am       Stretching / 15 minute walking or exercise
8:35 - 9:00 am       Shower and little me-time
9:00 - 9:30 am       Breakfast while writing your to-do list
9:45 - 12:00 nn      Work on Client X's project (not taking phone calls)
12:00 - 12:30 pm   Lunch break/coffee break/eye rest
12:30 - 2:00 pm     Work on Client X's project (not taking phone calls)
2:00 - 3:15 pm       Check and answering emails (personal or business)
3:15 - 4:15 pm       Working with your own business (having coffee), answering phone calls
4:15 - 4:30 pm       House chores/errands (need to move some muscles)
4:30 - 7:00 pm       Work on Client Z's project
7:00 - 7:30 pm       Dinner
7:30 - 10:30 pm     Work on Client Y's project
10:30 - 12:30 pm   Little tired but need to do social media and update blogs


Familiar?

The schedule above looks organized to me. But in real life, here's what happens:


9:45 - 12:00 nn   Work on Client X's project (not taking phone calls)

             [phone rang! You pick up. A client ask for a quote, he wants it immediately]
             [call supplier, discuss pricing]
             [you have to email the client]
             [it took more an hour to finish everything]

1:00 - 1:30 pm  (You are hungry, no food, you need to buy)

1:30 - 2:00 pm  Work on Client X's project again (not taking phone calls! Seriously!) 

            [Client X wanted you to finish something and need 2 more hours of work]

2:00 - 4:00  Work on Client X's project (not taking phone calls)
           
           [re-arranged your schedule]
           [had dinner at 10:00 pm]
           [you end up sleeping at 3:30am]

      .................

Every day, we have to deal with distractions. It can be a little crazy. If we don't set a priority tasks for the day, we might lose track on what we need to do. We feel so busy and overwhelmed and yet we feel we didn't accomplished anything.

To avoid getting stressed and to give more room for your well-being, let me suggest these:

1.  Don't take projects that you can't handle very well. You could be losing your credibility if you don't work at your best. 
2.  Stick to your schedule. Set a time for phone calls, texting, conversations or checking emails because you could lose momentum while doing that during work.
3.  You don't have to do everything in one day! If you have a blog, you can schedule to do your drafts during weekend and publish it with week days. Identify the things that are not necessary and schedule them some other time.

5 Practical Apps You Can Use

We get bored with routines because we are used to doing it everyday. We repeatedly do the same thing over and over again that we can do it without really thinking about it anymore or even with our eyes close. That rarely happens to many freelancers. There are just so many stuff going on. So, to help us out on how to deal with our time, here are some apps we can use. 

1.   Google Calendar 

Set up meetings, appointments or events and invite people via email. This make sure they are available during the time you would be contacting them. Attach documents or files in the scheduled meeting to make sure that you will be looking at the right materials.

You can synchronize it with all of your Android devices. There is no reason for you not to miss an event when it is in your Google Calendar.

You can  publish your calendar publicly if you want or share it to your friends or your team.

Google Calendar

2.   Google Keep

It works like an electronic sticky posts except that you can also capture images or photos and use voice notes.

Throughout the day with many ideas flooding into your mind, you sometimes need to keep a simple note to remember you with it. This is a great way to do it.

Google Keep Android App

3.   Evernote

Evernote allows you to keep notes and save your ideas with text and images. You can also draw or sketch using the app and save it. It lets you share your notes in social media too.

Evernote Android App

4.   Remember The Milk

Do you come home from the grocery store only to find out that you forgot to buy the milk? This app is more than an application to remind you to buy the milk.

Remember The Milk is a simple app that let you organize your tasks by priorities, due dates, and tags. You can create a Smart Lists, which is pretty helpful when you have several projects. You can create a list of tasks per client or project with tasks spread or scheduled throughout the week.

This is app is close to using my pen and paper. Currently, it is my fave.

Remember The Milk Android app
5.    Tasks: Astrid To-Do List Clone

Tasks is actually a clone to the Astrid app, which was bought by Yahoo. Tasks is free and open source software. It is built on the same code as the Astrid app except that there is no sharing or assigning tasks and no iOS or web interface.

Tasks let you create your to-do list by writing text or saving your voice notes. Let you set your tasks with due dates and priorities. You can also create your own list, which is similar to RTM (Rememeber The Milk) Smart Lists.

Tasks Android App


Currently, I'm using all of these application. I used Google Calendar for my clients. I use Evernotes for my blogs and writing long notes, Google Keep to remind me of the little stuff, and Remember The Milk (RTM) to write my priorities for the day and for the entire week. Tasks is a new addition to my Android Apps. Though I am pretty happy with RTM, I want to trial it for the sake of personal review.

If you are using an application that could help us to stay productive, feel free to share through your comments below.


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