I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a shiny object. I consume apps like candy. If there’s a gadget or software out there that promises to make me thinner and richer while I sleep, I’m likely to try it out — if the price is right.

All of which is a long way of saying I’ve tried a lot of cool tools to enhance my productivity over the years. It’s OK to experiment with new approaches, software, apps, or gadgets to find what works for you. Here’s a list of some tools you might try.

 

Xero.com

I use and recommend Xero.com. My accountant recommended it to me, and it does everything I need it to do without overwhelming me with features I don’t need or can’t understand. Xero automates my accounting so it only takes a fraction of the time it used to. (When I started out as a freelance writer, I did my accounting by hand in green ledger books!) The price is right, too: $30 per month.

RescueTime

This helpful software runs in the background and tracks everything you do on your computer (scary thought, right?). Then, each week it sends you a report detailing how much productive time you put in — and how much distractive time you wasted. When you can identify where you’re wasting time, it’s easier to recoup those hours. I use the free version of RescueTime, and there’s also a paid version that allows you to set up finer controls over what constitutes “productive” time versus “distractive.”

Dropbox

Dropbox revolutionized the way I work. In case you’re not familiar with it, Dropbox is a cloud storage solution. I save all my documents to Dropbox, where I can access them from any device (no more thumb drives!). Dropbox makes sharing with editors, clients, and your VA a breeze, too.

From a productivity perspective, my favorite feature of Dropbox is its auto-saves. Yes, I know Microsoft Word auto-saves, but have you noticed how Word never seems to have retained the most recent version of that story you just spent three hours working on before your power suddenly went off and poofed your draft? Yeah. Well, I’ve found Dropbox’s auto-save to be much more reliable. Twice in the past six months Dropbox has saved my bacon by allowing me to restore a previous version of a document lickety-split. Best part? The free version of Dropbox provides plenty of storage if you are only using it for documents.

Edgar

If you’re big into social media marketing, Edgar can save you a lot of time. At $50 a month, it’s not cheap. But it delivers a lot of bang for the buck. More than simply a scheduler (because you can use Hootsuite or something for that), Edgar allows you to create an ever-expanding library of social media content it then auto-publishes in perpetuity. In other words, if you add a blog post to your library, Edgar will not run that thing just once. Oh, no. Edgar will run that baby forever in rotation with all your other content. This helps you drive engagement over the long term — with very little effort on your part.

Brain.fm

OK, this one’s a little woo-woo, especially coming from a nurse like me. Brain.fm claims to reprogram your brain for focus, relaxation, or sleep — whichever you choose during a given session. I’ve been experimenting with the “focus” aspect of Brain.fm for a few weeks now. Does it work? You know, I have to say it seems like it does. Could this be a placebo effect? Yes, it definitely could. Does it matter? No, not really. I mean, if I find using Brain.fm indeed helps me focus better, then what difference does it make if it’s simply me believing it works or whether it’s actually doing something to my brainwaves?

ColdTurkey

If you find it’s a lot easier to sneak off to Facebook for half an hour instead of writing that draft you’ve been procrastinating on, then ColdTurkey is for you. This software allows you to block websites for a certain length of time, making it impossible for you to surf instead of type. Genius.

 

What are your favorite freelance productivity tools? Give them a shout-out in the comments!

Wishing you well,

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