Being a freelancer is hard work– despite what most people would think. The idea of working from home in your pajamas would seem like an ideal working scenario for some, but having no bosses around to keep tabs on you can result into your productivity going into a nosedive. Before you know it, you’re browsing through celebrity gossip sites or looking up random facts on Wikipedia instead of working on that report. Hours pass by, the day ends, and you find yourself with absolutely nothing to show for the lost time.
Thankfully, there are a lot of FREE productivity tools on the Web that can help you get back on track and keep up with your work commitments. Here are some of the best ones:
1. Evernote and The Secret Weapon
Evernote is mostly known as a journaling and note-taking tool. It is pretty similar to Microsoft One Note in some respects, but Evernote has web-based functions (e.g. synchronization across multiple devices, online clipping, shared notebooks, etcetera) that the former lacks.
Now, Evernote is very useful on its own- you can use it as a plain old notebook, album, and clippings repository. But to get the most out it, you need an organization system that will teach how to organize tasks and to-do lists according to importance, date due, and other such categories.
This is where The Secret Weapon comes in. If you’re familiar with the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity method, then you’ll understand what Secret Weapon is all about. This system integrates useful GTD tenets with Evernote functionalities, allowing you to become a productivity powerhouse in no time.
2. Pomodairo and the Pomodoro Technique
We mentioned GTD, but that productivity system might be a bit complicated for first-timers. As a simpler alternative, you can try out the Pomodoro Technique. Developed br Francesco Cirrillo in the 1980s to help him focus in his university exams, this time management method involves having your worktime for the day sequestered into indivisible “pomodoros”- or blocks of 25-minutes. At the end of each pomodoro, you get to have a five minute break. Four completed pomodoros nets you a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes.
It is important to note that once you get started on a pomodoro, there’s no turning back. A pomodoro is indivisible- you have to work on something for 25 minutes straight. For more in-depth information on how to organize pomodoros and how to deal with distractions, just take a look at the About page on the www.pomodorotechnique.com website.
Now, there are a lot of Pomodoro timers available on the Web. But Pomodairo seems to be one of the best ones among the lot. Most timers are just plain timers. Pomodairo has extensive functionality that you can’t find anywhere- it has a tasklist, a system for marking distractions, customization options and many more.
What if your freelancing career involves having to work with other people? Working on projects with a team, and getting everyone on board and updated all the time can be quite a task especially if you’re relying on plain old emails.
But Trello is here to save the day. A dedicated online collaboration tool, Trello allows people to congregate on a virtual “board” and fill it with cards. The cards can be then customized according to your needs (for example, you can group under specific deadlines). After filling the board with cards and tasks, you can then add people to it. These members are allowed to move the cards along lists, add notes and documents, and even communicate with one another on the board. It’s like a virtual workplace.
Coffitivity is not actually a productivity app per se, but it is something that can help you keep focused.
There’s a reason why people go to cafes to work- and sometimes its not just about the coffee. The noise provides enough stimulation to keep them going without being distracting. Coffitivity here will recreate the sounds of a busy coffee shop for you, so that you’ll get to experience that work-conducive cafe environment right in the safety of your own homes. The best thing of all? You wouldn’t even have to spend a dime on overpriced coffee, or have to listen to customers nagging on poor baristas.