As almost any professional designer can attest, freelancing comes with a lot of perks. You essentially set your own hours, establish a rate you’re willing to work for and can even turn down jobs from difficult clients. On the other hand, without rock solid discipline, it’s very easy to get distracted, which can lead to missed deadlines or diminished creativity. These five tools for working as a freelance designer will help you stay focused and streamline time-consuming tasks.
One study found that 60 percent of interruptions
at work involve the use of social media sites and other online disruptions. Stay focused on the job with Freedom, an app that will block access to the web for any amount of time. You can also block specific social media sites like Facebook, You Tube, Reddit and many others with Anti-Social
, a separate app by the creators of Freedom.
If you’ve ever worked on two or more design jobs at once, you know how difficult — and disruptive — it can be to keep track of time spent on each project. A time-tracking tool like Harvest allows you to track your hours at a push of a button. Harvest also works on your mobile devices, a benefit for when you’re discussing a project when you’re away from your desk. Time distribution reports will give you an idea how much time it takes you to complete certain tasks. And finally, you don’t have to switch apps to bill clients. Harvest will send invoices and can accept online payments.
You probably have more than one point-person per job to report to. Forgetting someone’s name could be catastrophic to your small business. View information about your email contacts with Rapportive. Using this email plug-in, you can easily see what your contact looks like, where they live, and your social media connections. There’s also a place for you to make notes about the contact. Best of all, Rapportive does not save any of your personal data. Rather, the app scans the net for info that’s already publicly available. If you need more helpful email hacks, check out this email productivity guide.
4. Adobe Kuler
Thinking of a unique color scheme can be tedious and time consuming. Adobe Kuler offers a unique way to create color palette’s based on images that inspire you. Import any image and Kuler will use it to create a color palette. A finger-controlled marker or a color wheel tool allows you to adjust any hue on the slide. You can save your original palettes, as well as themes created by other users, in your personal folder.
Have an idea you want to share with a client? You can probably sketch it easily enough on paper. But how do you share it and discuss unique features point by point? Balsamiq is a desktop wire-frame app that allows you to export your mockups, save as a PDF, print or feature as a full-screen presentation is a great tool for streamlining collaborative design jobs. With this tool, your clients can make changes that you will see when you open the file. New functions are added all the time by Balsamiq’s designers and an “Ask the Community” features lets you get ideas and solutions from other users.
TimeDoctor is a time management software with advanced time, activity and productivity monitoring features. The software is designed not only as a tracker for total time worked by every person on your team, it also provides a breakdown on how much time is spent on projects (clients), and specific tasks. TimeDoctor also monitors Internet use during work hours. Notifications will pop up if you spend excessive amounts of time on social media channels like Facebook, YouTube, and other personal web browsing activity.
TimeDoctor is currently available as a web app, desktop app, and a mobile app.