Getting and staying organized is what has taken me from a jumbled, procrastinating freelancer to a calm, composed small business owner. I used to make a paper and pencil to-do list only when I was feeling overwhelmed, track my hours in a sloppy Word doc, and have project info stored anywhere and everywhere—never readily available when I needed it. The result was a cranky, unproductive version of myself, and I knew I needed to make a sweeping change if I was going to make this business-running thing work.
I’ve found piece of mind in a few, inexpensive (and mostly free!) tools that help me run my business.
To solve my paper and pencil to-do list dilemma, I’ve adopted Insightly as a HUGE part of my workflow. All of my contacts, prospects, projects, and daily tasks are filtered through Insightly—nothing (and I mean nothing!) gets done unless it’s set up as a task in Insightly. This helps me track where my time is spent, it gives me the ultimate satisfaction of crossing items off of a to-do list, and it makes me feel accountable for these to-dos.
Freshbooks has taken my sloppy Google Docs/PayPal method of invoicing clients, and has made my bookkeeping WAY more streamlined. Not only do I invoice from Freshbooks, but I also track my hours in the software, too. Their handy timer helps me see where I’ve spend time throughout the day, and it also alerts me when I’m not working enough—if by 11:00 a.m. I’ve only tracked an hour of work, I know it’s time to lay off Twitter and Pinterest in the afternoon.
Google Calendar is my day-to-day savior. I have the memory of a goldfish, so I’d be lost without pop up and email reminders of client meetings, big deadlines, and personal affairs. And, it’s free (who doesn’t love free?!).
Evernote is another favorite—all of my notes go directly into Evernote now. Premium users reap the benefit of being able to share notebooks with others, so it’s handy for my husband and I to collaborate on personal business as well. Plus, the mobile Evernote app is wonderful!
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