One of the first obstacles that you face as a freelancer is keeping yourself organized. It is not something that most people come by naturally. I failed miserably at this my first year. I never wrote anything down, didn’t have any separation between my business and personal expenses, and for the most part was clueless about budgeting.
However, I did collect receipts which I kept safe and sound in my handy dandy wallet. But over time this method proved to be pretty poor. I eventually ended up with a George Costanza wallet and very little handle on my business transactions.
As a freelancer I have many things to worry about on a daily basis, so it is imperative to my bottom line to be as efficient as I can be. The time I waste trying to figure out something I should have tracked all along. In order to aid me in correcting my poor organizational skills I sought out on a search for the best productivity software.
My three main considerations
- Project Management & Colaboration
- Invoicing/Time Tracking
- Tax Preparation
These are my recommendations for each area:
When working with clients and other contractors it is important to be as organized as possible. You need to be able to communicate what needs to be done and have a way to track progress. I had gone the route of google docs, sharing a spreadsheet. That worked for a while, but wasn’t robust enough. There were several free trials of popular project management services that I tried, but I didn’t want to dole out a bunch of money so I could keep my overhead low. Then I came across Asana. It is the perfect blend of features and simplicity, plus it’s completely free. Check out the features list here. I highly recommend it.
There are several accounting services that people use. Most of them are packed with features that I will never use. Freshbooks has been my favorite so far. I have used it for almost 2 years now and I really like it. It has simplified keeping track of my billable time for each project by using it’s iOS app and third-party desktop application called Chronomate. It also gives me the ability to have general reporting tools on my business income. You can also connect your bank or paypal account to keep track of all your expenses. Check it out.
This is one that I’m trying out this year to see if it helps ease my tax filing this year. So far I like it. It’s easy to use and it also helps you categorize all your expenses and it provides several reports that are very helpful when tax time comes around. One thing that drew me to it was its ability to calculate your estimated taxes and help you keep on top all that business. I’m not sure if it is something that is completely necessary at this point, but I’ll let you know more after I file my taxes. Visit their site.