Tools for Self-Employment Folks: So…What’s Really Essential?

As a self-described minimalist freelancer, I’m really reluctant to sign up for new apps and tools to run my freelance business. That’s because I feel like there are only so many things you need. It’s far too easy to get bombarded with the latest apps or tools claiming to save you time and money and the like.

So why get caught up in that madness when you can get by just fine with the bare necessities?

In the last year and a half I’ve been self-employed, I’ve only found I needed to pay for two services: data backup and cloud accounting.

Data Backup
If there’s anything I need to protect, it is all the documents on my computer. Now that I work for myself, there’s no IT person I can call when my computer is on the fritz, and if my documents get wiped out, it’s pretty much over.

Besides saving my documents on the regular on an external hard drive, I use Carbonite, which is pretty simple to install. I haven’t had a data crash thus far (knock on wood). From what I know it doesn’t scramble my data, so if I need to recover my files, they should remain in the same order.

Carbonite came in handy when I switched out my SSD drive last year. Carbonite costs $60 a year (well, $59.99 to be exact), and you can test it out with a free 15-day trial. On occasion I’ll come across a 30% off promotion, which is pretty sweet.

Cloud Accounting Software

Xero the Hero
I’ve been playing around with Xero and the first thing I noticed was their clean interface and easy navigation. If you’ve used Quickbooks in the past, you can convert your files from Quickbooks.

Plus, you’ll be able to integrate with more than 500 apps to help you further streamline your accounting stuffs. I took a gander and you can integrate Xero with apps for time tracking, billing and expenses, inventory, and financial services. And when you invoice through Xero, you can receive payments via Paypal and set up an automatic Paypal bank feed to keep track of transactions.
Xero has also has a separate section for Payroll and Inventory, which is pretty sweet if you have several employees and need to keep careful track of your products. You can also reconcile bank transactions to make sure your records are up to date and accurate.

Right now Xero is offering 30% off your first 6 months. And the pricing is as follows:

Starter: $6.30 for the first 6 months, $9 a month thereafter. You can send 5 invoices and quotes, enter 5 bills, and reconcile 20 bank transactions.

Standard: $21 a month for the first 6 months, $30 a month thereafter. You can enter unlimited invoices and quotes, enter unlimited bills, reconcile unlimited bank transactions, and process payroll for 5 people.

Premium: $49 a month for the first 6 months, $49 a month thereafter. You can enter unlimited invoices and quotes, enter unlimited bills, reconcile unlimited bank transactions, process payroll for 5 people, and handle different currencies.

 You can try Xero out for free for 30 days.

Creating Your Own System Using Free Tools
Now you can certainly create a makeshift system. I have some friends who don’t use many tools and they aren’t really missing out. Of course, it just takes more time and work. If you’re just starting out, you may need to use accounting software just yet.

Here are a few ways on how you can create your own system for invoicing and tracking expenses:

Time tracking: Because I do mainly writing and copyediting and I charge either either hourly or per article, I don’t really need to track my time per project. I still like to track my time, just so I can get a sense of how long things take and I can figure out my bandwidth when new opportunities arise. I am a big fan of Toggl, and use their free version.

Inventory: While I don’t have too much experience keeping track of inventory, there are a few free systems for keeping track of your inventory. You can check out Stockpile, which is 100% free and offers customer support. I think the catch is that the company that created Stockpile is building out other tools that they’ll be charging for. InFlow Inventory also has a free plan.

Tracking assignments: I still use good ‘ole Excel to keep track of my assignments. I include the outlet, assignment name, whether I’ve sent over an invoice, if payment is received, and how much I should sock away for taxes (I’ve heard you should save anywhere from 25-50% for your taxes as a solopreneur, and I save 40%).

Staying on top of deadlines: I use Trello to stay on top of my deadlines for assignments. I’ve also created little cards for each publication I write for with logins, links to editorial guidelines, “pitch banks” with story ideas for each outlet, and other details such as my main contacts, editors’ emails, how and when to invoice, method of payment, and the like.

Tracking expenses: Keeping tabs on your business expenses will save massive headaches come tax time. You can use Expensify, which has a free version, or keep track with an Excel Spreadsheet. I would probably create separate tabs for each month, and organize by date, the amount of the expense, how you paid for it (cash, credit card, debit) and which expense category it falls under.

To figure out which categories are eligible for tax deductions, you can check out a blog post I wrote about the most common tax deductions for freelancers, and Paco of The Hell Yeah Group also has a great post on business expenses that are tax deductible.

Invoicing: You can send free invoices with Invoice Generator. It keeps a history of the invoices you’ve created, which is pretty helpful. I’ve used the free version and have no complaints.

So there you have it. If you want to go barebones with tools and software when you’re going self-employed, it’s definitely doable. You might want to go this route if you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of beans to spend on running your business.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links to FreshBooks, Carbonite, and Xero. I only endorse and write about products I know and love. 









How to Maintain Your Productivity Mojo While Traveling

“Hey, do you want to watch our dog?” For the last few years my Chicagoan friends Greg and Dave had talked about me staying with them in Chicago or possibly to do a house swap.  And when they needed someone to watch their dog while they were away in June, it seemed like an opportune time. But I had my reservations about going.

The thing was that I would be busy traveling in May. I’d be in San Jose for a conference, then to Hawaii for a family vacation.
I’d then spend over a month in the Midwest, in Chicago and then in the Midwest. I only had four days in between each trip to get my ish together, pack, do laundry, see friends, and what have you. It was fun, it was exciting—and it was also exhausting.
While it may seem like a dream to some, I dreaded it. I am a creature of habit, and actually *gasp* like my life in Los Angeles. You can say I was a reluctant digital nomad.

Ideally I would’ve had more space in between my travels. I was hoping to have more space in between my travels, but when I realized I may not the opportunity to get a taste of this digital nomadism most freelancers have been talking about.

Here’s what I learned about staying productive while hopping cities:

Have your productivity pack in tow

You know what you need. I personally try to pack as little as possible. On the trip I brought the following:

– My Samsung Chromebook
Chromebook case
Cell phone charger
– Backup! I was terrified of losing my files. A lot of my stuff is stored on the Cloud, but I do have some documents on my hard drive. I use Carbonite, which is about $60 a year.
– Headphones 

Come up with a new work schedule: and stick to it
I really wanted not to work while traveling in Hawaii, as it was a family vacation. But I had work deadlines, so after talking to my friend and mentor Alan, I figured out a schedule for me. I did the 2/6 schedule, where I work for 2-3 hours a day while on vacation. There was a Starbucks around the corner, so I made a pact with myself to work from 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. while on vacation. That way I’d be back at the hotel to grab breakfast with my family.

I felt bad because I was supposed to be on vacation, and not working. My family has been extremely supportive of me when I have a deadline. Creating more structure is something I’ve been struggling with.

When I was in Chicago I spent a week at Grind, a lovely coworking space downtown. I worked a lot at a local coffee shop, which worked out just fine. Since I was in Chicago for a solid month, I had time to squeeze in sightseeing and then figure out a routine that worked for me.

Allow for flexibility
There were plenty of times when things didn’t go as planned. I got lost, or the train was behind schedule, or my friends invited me on a bike ride or something fun that I simply could not pass up. So yea, you can’t remain rigid all the time. I did my best and got my stuff done.

Plan for periods where you can’t work
I was in three different places, hoping via train and plane And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. The Southwest Chief, which is the route I took on Amtrak from L.A. to Chicago, had no WiFi. I resorted to writing a blog post on my freakin’ smartphone, which I don’t recommend doing to anyone.

So check ahead of time if the plane or train you’ll be on offers WiFi. Amtrak offers WiFi on select routes, and you can check out availability there. You’ll also want to check if airport terminals offer WiFi, either for free or for a small cost. Airfare Watchdog has a pretty decent Airport WiFi access chart. And of course, check if the airline you’ll be traveling on offers WiFi, what it costs, and how reliable it is.

If you can’t work, use it as a time to relax, do nothing, read a book, or what have you. You’ll just need to plan around it, of course.

It was definitely challenging to stay productive while in transit, and as I prep for FinCon this week, I’ll be working 1-2 hours a day to stay on task. Wish me luck!

What kind of tricks have you learned to stay productive while traveling?

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.


Treat Your Creative Projects Like They’re Clients

Last month when I was in Chicago I attended a Creative Mornings talk with Charles Adler, one of the co-founders of KickStarter. He talked about this illustrator who created a crowdfunding campaign to fund an art project and asked for very little money.

The reason why he wanted to do this was not necessarily because he needed, say, three bucks from his friends to draw a couple of illos, but that it created a social obligation to sit his butt down and draw! From the mouth of Charles:

“Financing, or capital, provides social pressure to complete a project.”

I makes perfect sense. Why do we finish side gigs and cast our personal projects aside? Why is it so hard to keep commitments we make with ourselves to finish that book, or comic strip, or song? Because there’s very little social pressure to complete these things.

In a perfect world, we’d be passionate and wholly focused to our craft. But in real life, we’re pulled by a messy jumble of obligations and distractions, at at times, a lack of internal motivation. So what if we tried treating our creative projects as clients? Here are a few ways to go about it:

Create a Production Schedule
I’ve just recently started using Trello to keep track of my tasks for my fiction writing and my blog. Trello is an easy way is free project management software that helps you stay organized and on task. Similar sites are Asana. You can create different to-do lists and then move them over to different stages of the production. It’s pretty rad and best of all, it’s free!

While I haven’t been able to stick to it 100 percent, it’s a start. Creating deadlines for the little things, such as finishing a scene in a story, or drafting a list of literary journals to submit to. Start small and level up.

Set Firm Deadlines
If you don’t set firm deadlines for yourself, it’ll be harder to make progress. Linking these to events or contests helps a ton. Is there a reading you need to prepare for? Are you in a writer’s workshop and need to submit pages? Or is there a fiction contest coming up you’d like to be in the running for? Maybe you can post snippets of your work on Tumblr and commit to posting on the regular.

Pay Yourself

And in the most literal sense, the difference between a “professional” and an “amateur” is that a professional gets paid for their work. So why not pay yourself?  A few months ago I committed to spending 15 minutes every morning. I kept it up for a good three months; it was awesome! But then I soon fell off the bandwagon. So I recently started paying myself five bucks (yup) for every 15 minutes I work on my short stories. I use this app called Digit, and I just transfer money into my Digit account, which I’m a huge fan of.

I know I’m not the most generous boss on the planet, but hey it’s enough to get me working. And how much you pay yourself can be tricky. You want to pay yourself so little that you’d prefer to forgo the cash and take a nap instead, but you don’t want to pay yourself so much that you can’t afford it. I did the math and if I wrote for a minimum of 15 minutes 20 days a month, that would be $100. And if I wrote for an hour 20 days a month? That’s $400.

Give Yourself a Bonus
If that seems like more cash than you can afford, you can set up a reward system instead. Like treat yourself to a video game or some fun gadget once you put in X number of hours. You can also treat yourself to a bonus on top of any money you are paying yourself.  To be honest, the $100-$400 I pay myself to write fiction may be too hefty at the moment, so I may switch to a “bonus plan” instead.

Give Yourself a Performance Evaluation
I know, it’s starting to get super nerdy. But why not check in with yourself every few months to see what progress you’ve made, how you can improve, and what you can check? There’s really no need to beat yourself over the head what you have yet to accomplish, and the mountain of work that lies ahead of you. Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins, too!

While it may seem like a pain in the rear, treating your creative project like a client could help you make serious headway. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Making the Most of a Lull

So after working like crazy for a good long while, about a month ago I hit a bit of a lull. One of my clients was occupied with another project, my part-time onsite job with my old employer was tapering off, and another outlet stopped their paid content. You know, that is just the way of Freelance Lyfe, and a lot of the time you have zero control over that kind of thing.

While I had been working hard to keep my head well above water since last fall, it as my first lull and found myself with more free time than I had ever imagined.

And you know what? I started to get super anxious. All that spare time allowed my neurotic thoughts to creep up. What a waste of mental energy, amirite?

But whatever you do, DONT PANIC.

You could squander time quibbling over whether you did something wrong, or if your days as a if you should look into getting a part-time gig, or back into the 9-5. But you know what, unless you absolutely have to, all those negative thoughts are just wasted energy. Focus instead on what you can be doing with all that free time. You can even think of it as a gift.

Get Mo’ Work
If you need to get your hustle on, tap into your network to see what kinds of job opportunities are out there. I’ll go in greater detail about creating a CRM, or Customer Relations Management System, that will help you keep track current clients and potential leads, in a later post, but you’ll want to tap into connections you’ve already linked up with, which you’ll most likely have an easier time securing work.

Even if you have a lull, when it comes to consistent, ongoing work, if you can, you’ll want to keep your same pay scale as when you were busy. But what if you really need the money? I still say stick to your guns as much as possible, because when the work does ramp up again, you’ll be quick to drop the lower-paying clients. Plus you might not be as motivated to do your best work. That being said, you’re ultimately doing a disservice to both you and your clients.

For instance, I have a price range I would ideally like to charge per article, which can vary according to the type of outlet (i.e., a corporate client versus a consumer blog), word count, and the amount of research and interviewing is involved. I’m been tracking the time it takes me to write an article since I began freelancing full-time last fall, and I have an idea of how many articles I can take on in a given week. Of course, this isn’t a perfect science.

It’s also a good opportunity to go for the clients and type of work you really want to do. Who are your dream clients? What was lacking in the work you had been doing?  Having a lull is kind of like clearing half of your slate, and having half a clean slate to work with. Kind of exciting, right?

Work on Yo’ Passion Projects
Okay, you know that project you’ve let fallen by the wayside, the one that you treat like an ugly stepchild? Well, don’t lollygag. Now’s your time to get crackin’ on what you really care about. Now when I sensed a lull coming on, I reached out to some outlets that were hiring to secure more work. But I soon stopped myself.

When I first started freelancing, I had thought about doing the minimal amount of work to get by so I could focus on finishing the first draft of my short story collection and working on this blog, but work ramped up quickly and I was reluctant to decline work, especially as I was used to having a day job.

Well guess what? I’m in a really situation to focus on my passion projects. And the best part is that I didn’t really have to let go of anything. I’ll be doing the whole digital nomad thing for the month of June, and am in Chicago. I’ve got a lot I want to explore while I’m here, including biking through the neighborhoods, eating delicious grub, and working on my collection of short stories.

If you want some time to focus on personal projects or to just enjoy yourself, I find it helpful to create a bit of structure. For instance, maybe you can spend a morning block of time to do your freelance work, and then spend the afternoon focusing on your personal stuff. And set a specific time. I have lied to myself by creating a loose structure. You just gotta stay accountable!

Enjoy Yo’ Self!
Give yourself permission to chill. You earned it. And even if you didn’t, so what? Do it anyway. Go check out a museum in the middle of a day, or go out for a leisurely lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s okay not to be focused on making the dollars 24/7. In fact, you’ll probably gain some perspective on the role work, having a career identity, and making money plays in your life.

Now for work-oriented people such as myself, this may be easier said than done. I tend to turn anything and everything into a project. I will eventually learn to chill out and have less on my plate, but to be honest not sure how to go about it. Does that sound strange? Oh well.

So yea, make the most of your lull. No need to fret or despair. I guess it’s important to remember that no one client is responsible for your financial well-being, professional development, or sanity. You are. 

Illustration by Viet Vu 

What It Means to Be a Minimalist Freelancer

As someone who practices Zen Buddhism and minimalism, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means exactly to be a minimalist as a freelancer. To be being minimalist has to do with your approach and mindset to how you work. It’s about getting rid of what’s not important to you.

And as I’ve nearing the end of my 4th month doing it full-time, I wonder what I could do differently in the future. How can I better align my values with the craziness that comes with being self-employed? I am definitely still figuring that out. Here are some things I am going to keep in mind going forward:

In Your Work
I touched about this briefly in a previous post about optimizing, not maximizing your life. It’s about not taking everything that comes your way—you can afford to do so, of course. Nix projects and clients that add unnecessary stress in your life, or aren’t building your portfolio. Instead, take on work that is either meaningful, pays enough so you can work less and focus on other projects, or could lead to more meaningful work.

Of course, this can feel like a pipe dream but it’s definitely something to aspire toward. Sometimes you have to take a job simply because you need the money or are a regular workhorse who has problems saying “no” to work.

In Your Tools
Do you really need five project management programs and three tablets? I’m all for implementing apps and tools to enhance your system and processes as a freelancer, but too many tools can make your workflow a bit cumbersome.

You might find that you can do more with less, or be smarter about streamlining your work with just a couple of programs. The main tools I use on a daily basis are Evernote for my to-do list, Toggl to track my time, and Freedom, which is an Internet blocker I use when I am writing fiction. All these apps are 100 percent free. And I am landing more clients and gaining more ways of earning money, I am also looking into streamlining how I do my billing and track expenses. It’s starting to get a little messy. Oof.

In Your Digital Communication
This is something I struggle with daily. If you’re like me you have a million articles on your Facebook Newsfeed saved, subscribe to the newsletter of every blogger and website you dig, and check your email compulsively. I’ve installed Periscope, Blab, and Meerkat on my phone and pretty much every single new social media platform out there. And do I use even a fraction of them? Nope.

Try checking and responding your emails just a few times a day. For instance, when you first start your work day, before lunch, and about an hour before you’re ready to wind down. Doing your tasks in batches can help a ton.

In Your Approach
This is probably the biggest thing I have been struggling with. Pay attention to the task at hand. Don’t take on too much in any given day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, to wish you could get all your work done in one fell swoop. Take your time, don’t rush. Take breaks if you need to. Go for a walk, or a short swim at a nearby pool.

If you’re curious to learn more about minimalism, here are a few resources to get you started:

The Minimalists: Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists have really started a culture on how we can live more fully with less. They have local meetups in different cities around the world where you can shoot the bull with like-minded folk. Joshua’s book, “Everything That Remains,” is a memoir that chronicles his path from living a crash-and-burn, materialist lifestyle to a deliberate, minimalist life.

Blonde on a Budget: Cait Flanders is currently going through her two-year spending fast. It’s inspired me to go on my own version of a spending fast. She’s pretty awesome and inspiring.

And Then We Saved: Anna Newell Jones is the queen of living a life free of material distractions. She shows you going on a spending fast can be done. Besides a bunch of articles on her site, you can also glean tips on how to go about on your own spending diet with her upcoming book “The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living.” She’s also just put out a book that includes wisdom on the minimalist lifestyle as well as interviews with some of the heavy hitters called “How to be a Fearless Minimalist in a Cluttered World.

Zen Habits: Leo Babauta is the man when it comes to creating habits to live a healthier, more meaningful and productive life. I have been following his site for years. He teaches you how you can create real change in your life by changing your habits, little by little. Check out his book “Essential Zen Habits, Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly,” which includes super short chapters on how you can change your bad habits and do all the things you’ve ever wanted to. I got through the book in a couple of sittings and it’s one that I come back to again and again.

Why You Should Always Track Your Time

When negotiating a rate for a particular project or assignment, it might make more sense to charge a flat fee or per word than by the hour. Even though it may not seem necessary to keep tabs on how much time was spent on a given assignment, here are a few reasons why it’s beneficial to always track your time:

You can learn your pace.
Figuring out the speed at which you get things done can help you determine if the rate for a job was reasonable. It also helps you determine how many projects you can handle in a given period. For instance, if you know it takes you four hours overall to complete a standard assignment for one of your clients, and you normally do a 40-hour workweek, then you’ll know not to take on more than eight similar assignments in a given week. And what might have taken two hours to do when you first started out may now take you half the time. Knowing that will help you learn more about your capabilities and how much work you can handle.

You can figure out your weaknesses and strengths.
If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you’re incredible at whipping up a great mockup in a short amount of time, but may find it a slog when prepping files for the printer. Knowing not only your strengths but your weaknesses will help you better manage your time. If you know it’s a struggle for you to prep files, you might want to schedule the more difficult, time-consuming tasks at a time of day when you are the most cogent and productive.

You can divide the work into separate categories.
Divvying the work into separate categories is helpful for several reasons: First, it’s much easier to invoice if you’re charging separate rates for different types of tasks for a project. For instance, if you are writer, you might charge different rates for research, proofreading, and writing. Or if you’re a building contractor, you might charge separately for researching the cost of equipment versus making on-site visits. Tracking your time will take a lot of the guesswork out and help you more accurately invoice the client.

It’s also helpful to know how long a specific task takes if you have too much on your plate and need to outsource certain tasks. For instance, by knowing how long it takes to proofread a 100-page survey report, you can use this as a starting point as to how much you can afford to pay someone else to do the proofreading portion. If it normally takes you 8 hours to proof a 100-page survey, you might want to just outsource half of the proofreading and do the other half yourself.

It’ll help you figure out how to charge in the future.
By tracking your time, you’ll have valuable info to help you figure out how much to charge for similar projects in the future. This is especially useful if you’re new to the world of freelancing or are taking on a new type of project. Some assignments may prove to take longer to complete than expected. You might have forgotten to consider other parts of the job, such as interviewing primary sources, writing proposals, or doing research. Even if you are charging a flat rate, having this information on hand will assist you in deciding if you want to charge more for similar assignments.

It’ll help you determine which payment method works best.
Finding out what payment method works best for both parties is something that can figured out after having some information under your belt. Think of the time you’ve tracked on assignments as part of your toolkit in helping you make decisions as a freelancer. You’ll be more knowledgeable to figure out how much you should charge for X, which mode of payment works best, and whether you currently have the bandwidth to take on an assignment.

Tracking your time provides valuable information to help you get paid a rate that works for you. It also helps you track your progress on any given job. As a freelancer you’re ultimately running your own business. The more data you have at your disposal, the easier it will be to optimize your time and resources.

If you’re just starting out with tracking your time, I highly recommend using Toggl which I have been using for a while and absolutely love. It’s free (at the least the version I use is) and super easy to figure out.

How to Build a Creation Cave

For those who are participating in the 40 Days of Dating Your Passion Project, building a creation cave is essential to fostering creativity and doing your best work. Plus, it’s waaay better than a Man Cave.

 Here are some quick tips on building your very own creation cave:

Choose a space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a space dedicated solely to working on your passion project, but I find it really helps to create a set up. It’s like setting up your bedroom in a way that’s conducive to sleep. By setting up your space that’s conducive to creativity, you’ll find it much easier to get into the flow.

Figure out what you need. Whether it’s your laptop, your favorite coffee mug, and a few inspiration quotes on the wall, or a large table to work
4052953450_847d771581on your Etsy crafts, figure out the best sort of setup that’s conducive to productivity. My main setup is a small coffee table. I sit on some cushions for extra comfort. If I find myself needing a change of scenery, I’ll head over to a local coffee shop to get my writing done.

Turn off distractions. Let your roomies or family members know that you’ll be working from such and such time, and close the door or use the passive “headphones method” (I have my headphones on, therefore I cannot hear you, so don’t talk to me) so that people know you’ll be unavailable during this time period. And beware of Internet distractions: you can use Internet blocking productivity software such SelfControl (free) or Freedom ($10). It’s very easy to get distracted when you’re working on something that requires a lot of mental energy, and using a productivity timer such as Focus Booster (free) or running Coffitivity (free) in the background.

Implement rituals. By ritual I don’t necessarily mean chanting or a set of gestures (although as a Zen Buddhist practitioner I do chant a creativity gatha and ring a bell), but something specific you do every time you go on a date, no matter how short. It can be as simple as with some music to get pumped up or wind down to, or maybe bookending your session with some journaling. The book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work indicates that there’s no one ideal routine, and everyone has a different style. These rituals will serve as triggers to help you get into your flow, and trust me it will get easier time.

Spend time with your project at the same time. I’ve been trying to write in the mornings from 5 am – 6 am for shorter sessions, and on Monday evening, Wednesday evening, and Saturday afternoon for the longer dates. Of course, there will be exceptions, but this really helps you develop the habit of working on your project.

Set up visual cues. Whether it’s placing your journal at your dining table, or a little note on a reminder If your creation cave is a place away from home, I recommend packing what you need to get your work done the night before and setting it by your door, similar to packing your gym bag. It’ll make it easier to get to your date place with minimal groveling and last-minute hassle.

Just a friendly reminder: The more you treat this as a legit date, where you have agreed to meet someone at a particular place and time, with a specific activity in mind, the easier it will be to stay accountable. You don’t want to flake out, right?

Hope these tips are helpful. Have fun!


Desk: Courtesy of pottery studio workspace via photopin (license)
Typewriter: Courtesy of photo credit: mugfaker via photopin cc

Freebie Roundup: Task Management Software 

There’s a bunch of free software out there for managing your projects that you’re working on by yourself or with a team. Whether it’s a freelance design gig for a website or recording your next album, these apps will help you stay organized and minimize confusion and extra work. There’s paid subscriptions but the free versions are pretty robust and powerful. I highly recommend just choosing one, that way you won’t get too confused and remember a bunch of passwords and whatnot. Enjoy!

Asana’s selling point is to streamline workflow without using e-mail. I used it a bit on a YouTube stop-motion film series last year and the free version is as good as any.

Producteev is a pretty popular task management software and used by a lot of major companies. It’s the go-to task software for the Marketing Productivity-HacksDepartment at my day job, and as far as I know they experience no problems. The free version should do the trick for smaller teams.

I’m currently using Teamwork for a freelance web design project I’m writing copy for, and so far it’s pretty simple and intuitive to use.

Droptask is getting a lot of buzz and is geared for the more visually oriented types. The lazy Susan-esque circular layouts remind me a bit like a Prezi presentation.

I like using Trello for personal projects. It’s fairly simple to use and operates more along the lines of a sophisticated to-do list.