Smart Time Management Apps and Tips for Freelance Business

Time management and productivity for freelancers.

Time management has to be organized for each individual based on who they are and what their business (and lives) require. I’ve always been organized, but it wasn’t until I started to juggle several businesses at once that I decided it was time to develop a system.

Be mindful not to “over-track”. You have enough to track in your business without tracking calories, steps, and your mother’s sister’s boyfriend’s nephew’s birthday…

The Types of Apps I Use on a Daily Basis for My Businesses

  • Calendar
  • Email
  • Digital Notepad (project planning)
  • Reminders (to do list)
  • Time Tracker (for billable hours only)
  • Contacts
  • Budget
  • Web Browser
  • Cloud Storage
  • Social Media

My Requirements

  • Must sync automatically between all my devices (via the cloud on my phone, laptop, desktop)
  • Be Mac/iPhone compatible (these are the devices I currently use)
  • Budget friendly (a small one-time fee fits my needs better then a monthly fee)

What I Use and My Workflow

iCalendar

For keeping track of my lessons, meetings, and schedule, I use iCalendar. It syncs automatically between all my devices and I can input feeds from other platforms (Canvas, Google, Facebook, etc). Pro Tip: utilize the “notes” sections, colors, and “invites” to get more out of your entries.

Apple Mail

I have three email accounts synced on the Apple Mail program on both my phone and computer. This app is unfortunately a little glichy with my Outlook account, but it is reliable enough that I can manage all my emails from my iPhone as often as I need to (so emails don’t pile up!). Pro tip: Quickly erase emails you don’t need to read by swiping right.

MailChimp

It is extremely important you have an email list (if you don’t already). I use MailChimp, but there are various email list programs available. Whichever you choose, make sure you start organizing your lists and setting up automation right away!

Trello

I now use Trello for everything from my full annual business plan to planning and brainstorming blog posts. I create specific boards for each project, goal, or deadline and use cards to organize sub-categories and attachments on the go from my phone.

Pro Tip: The only app that I’ve found that allows you to mark PDF’s on your iPhone is Notability. I use this if I need to sign or mark up web pages or PDFs.  Consider a high quality stylus. [affiliate link]

Reminders

An essential part of any time management routine! I’ve tried all sorts of different “to do list” apps. Once I started keeping projects ideas in Trello and OneNote, I found my Reminders app was best left for items that required immediate attention only. I like that you can bookmark just about anything and organize your list by due date. Pro Tip: Keep your list short. Long lists are hard to focus on.

Here’s how I organize my to-do list workflow ->

  • Online articles I want to read later are put into Pocket
  • Articles I want share I put in my Buffer cue
  • Project ideas go into Trello
  • Anything that needs to happen today (or this week) goes into Reminders

Hours Tracker (for Billable Hours)

I only track billable hours. It may be helpful to briefly track non-billable hours (for example, how much time are you really spending on Facebook?). I wouldn’t recommend this long term. Time spent tracking anything is time spent. Period.

If you are a freelancer, you have to track your billable hours. The app I chose is called Hours Tracker. I use this because it was a one-time fee of a few dollars for the pro version and I can input individual billable hours for each entry. It’s the only app I use that doesn’t sync on the cloud. However, it does have a CSV export that I use to archive data in client files. If you need the ability to generate automatic invoices and track a large amount of clients, look for something larger scale.

Contacts

The Apple Contacts app is fairly straight forward and my account syncs across all of my devices. Pro Tip: Use the “lists” feature to organize groups. You can also sync with Outlook and other programs. Go to System Preferences à Internet Accounts à Choose your account type

Quicken

I don’t know if Quicken is the best, but it is inexpensive and works for my simple billing system. Use some type of software to track your budget and your books, and then update it on a regular basisPro tip: Most programs and banks offer a mobile app.

Safari

Since I work primarily on Mac’s,  I use Safari for my daily browsing. If you aren’t using an automated service to track your bookmarks like Evernote, I find the bookmarks feature in Safari work great as long as you create sub-folders.

Dropbox

If it syncs across all your devices, it will save you time. There are a ton of great services to choose from. I primarily use Dropbox because it can be synced easily with programs I use like Adobe Spark, Creative Market, and WordPress.

Social Media

Social media is an incredible tool for business. I have apps for all the platforms I’m associated with on my phone. Pro Tip: Put aside a specific time each day to focus on social medial, or you’ll find yourself running the clock over. Consider automation tools to schedule posts in advance and save time during the week. 

Currently using…

  • Facebook (for my personal profile)
  • Pages (by Facebook to manage my business pages)
  • Messages (Facebook)
  • Instagram app (just a personal account for now)
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Behance
  • Medium
  • Pinterest

The most critical piece of time management and productivity is rest. Take time off to play.

*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Author

Khara

Khara Wolf is a freelance graphic designer, digital marketing strategist, and the owner of Khara Wolf Design. With a focus on marketing, Khara is passionate about providing educational resources as part of her business. She is a professional oboist, professor at Fort Lewis College, and just a little obsessed with chickens.