• Five of the best organisational tools for freelancers

    Five of the best organisational tools for freelancers

    Running your own business as a freelancer can be a lot of hard work. You have to do your own PR, marketing, HR, finance, networking, admin and negotiating. It’s a tough old job, and you need to be organised (which, if you’re creative, doesn’t necessarily come naturally).

    Thankfully there are some apps to make getting and staying organised a little easier.


    I’ve see Asana mentioned quite a bit recently. I’ve only recently tried it out (with thanks to the lovely Jo Shock who introduced me and this video from Carrie at Female Entrepreneur Association).

    It’s a great way to brain dump and organise your business, and see in a clear way what you need to do in each area. Asana is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and online.

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    slackdesktopSlack is a brilliant community tool for having conversations with your team. I have my own Slack community for the team I work with, plus I’m a member of two others who use it to communicate quickly with others. You can ask quick questions, drop in files, gather thoughts on images and even import Asana updates. As someone who hates dealing with emails, being able to quickly keep track of a conversation and respond without delving into inbox saves me a lot of time and stress. You can have different sections for different parts (‘channels’) of your business – for example I currently have one for newsletter chat, one for blog chat and one for general discussions.

    Slack is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android devises and online. There’s also a MacBook desktop app.

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    IFTTT (If this then that) is a tool to create triggers to get life working automatically for you. One of my favourite vloggers, Savvy Sexy Social, has done a great video summarising how it works.

    Love the idea? Check out the post I recently did for Yell Business on Ten ways to use IFTTT to make your business more efficient

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    bufferappBuffer has, hands down, saved me the most amount of time this year as a freelancer. An hour a week spent scheduling social media content (and taking advantage of their suggested content and feeds section), has taken a lot of the stress out of my social media use. Also, they’ve just added Pablo which works like ShareAsImage to create very quick and easy images for your social media. PLUS they’re lovely people generally – after I recently joined in on their #BufferChat Twitter chat, they sent me some free stickers in the post with a handwritten note. Class act Buffer.

    Buffer is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and online. There are also some browser extensions to make it even easier.

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    Productivity Wizard

    productivitywizardappIf you’re getting into goal setting, the Productivity Wizard app is a must to use. I love the way I can create daily, weekly and monthly goals, break them down into smaller tasks which can then slot into my iPhone calendar, reflect on each day with a series of insightful questions and track your progress. You can even add in regular rituals, like meditation and exercise.

    The Productivity Wizard is an app available on the iPhone and iPad.

    Which organisational tools do you use as a freelancer?

  • The Weekly Freelancing Challenge: Eat That Frog (or how to get the tough stuff done)

    You’ve got a long list of things to do. Some of them are fun things (hello Pinterest!), some of them are dull things. And some of them are things you put off for days, weeks or months.

    We’ve all got tasks on our lists that we don’t want to do, that we HAVE to do. So, how do we get around the procrastination and avoidance?

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • The Eat That Frog method. Based on the book by Brian Tracey, the Eat That Frog method is all about doing the hardest part of your day first, so everything afterwards is easier. If you have to eat a frog during your day, isn’t it better to eat it first, so you don’t have to dread it all day.
    • Break it down. If it’s a big task, break it down into manageable parts (anyone getting flashbacks of GCSE tutorial adverts?), and concentrate on doing a part each morning. By the end of the week, it’ll be done!
    • Schedule it in your online calendar, so you get a pop up reminding you. Alternatively, block out a period of time to do the job (I find this works well with admin/finances.)
    • Really hate it? Can you outsource it? Sometimes it’s possible to outsource the stuff you don’t want to do.

    So, this week’s challenge is to do that thing you’ve been putting off. I’ll be doing the same (I’ve been putting off creating some business terms and conditions and a business plan).

    (Thanks to Rosie at One Man Band Accounting for the suggestion of this topic!)

    What task have you been putting off? Let me know in the comments below! 

  • Disorganised online? How to use Springpad to get digitally organised

    I’m an organisation junkie. That doesn’t mean I’m super-organised. Oh HELL no. But I love nothing more than indulging in a browse of organisation blogs, pinning organisation tips on Pinterest and reading books designed to overhaul my disorganised ways. I dream of a day when my kitchen shelves are organised with colour coding and tidy drawers, and my filing system is…well, basically having a filing system at all would be a joy.

    Staying organised offline is hard enough, but staying organised online is when it gets tricky. How many social media accounts do you have? Bookmarks saved here and there? Photos and snippets pinned to your Pinterest board? It’s hard to keep track of all the bits you’ve saved!

    This is why Springpad appeals to me. Springpad is a tool full of notebooks you can personalise and fill with all your favourite links, images, recipes (I particularly love this feature) checklists and reminders that you want. I’ve got a Chrome extension that means I can grab a link while on the page. You can use it on the go on your mobile through the app, which means you can clip an article while surfing, snap a photo, scan a product barcode, record a voice memo, or save a place nearby. It’s one of those tools that you constantly find uses for. They’re collaborative too, which means if you’re working on a project with someone you can just drop in ideas, links, images and suggestions.

    This is Skittles. She’ll probably pop up here quite often now. Well, she is ridiculously cute.

    For me, I’ve found it most useful for organising my wedding and house hunting last year. Last year, I could save the details in a notebook, add my thoughts afterwards in the notes section, add photos, a map and a checklist of things to check. All on the way home from a house viewing. Pretty amazing, huh?

    I have a bunch of different notebooks on there. Ones for my clients, so I can save potential topics or things to write about. Notebooks full of ideas for our home. All my Delicious bookmarks. Blogging and WordPress ‘how to’ posts. A notebook filled with recipes. I’ve even got one filled with info on cats and kittens (for those that don’t follow me on Twitter, I recently adopted this beautiful little girl on the left).

    I’m not saying I only use Springpad. I tend to still use Pinterest for images and ideas, and I use the Read It Later (now known as Pocket) app to save time and read content in one go. But when it comes to projects, I find Springpad an essential tool.

    How do you stay organised online?