Freelancing often means juggling a variety of different projects at any given time. As a freelancer you’ll frequently find yourself working for many clients and on a huge variety of diverse tasks. If you don’t manage your time and projects effectively, things can quickly fall into chaos. This can result in lost clients, more working hours, reduced earnings, and emotional stress.
To help prevent disaster, there are a core selection of online project management tools every freelance professional should have in their arsenal. When used effectively and in coordination with one another, they can help you create a streamlined workflow, allowing you to finish projects faster and with more control.
The following are types of project management tools we believe are essential to a freelancer’s career.
As a freelancer, you’re in charge of everything you do. You don’t have a boss or a tried and tested company system to follow. Your work time is yours and you need to plan it well, right from the beginning of your career.
When it comes to project management, investing in a task planner can help you keep track of exactly what you need to do, when you need to do it, and also when that task or project has actually been completed.
Good task planners provide you with a flexible, logical, and visually attractive way to quickly add tasks to a list or Kanban board, from which you can clearly see what needs to be done. This allows you to accurately fill your daily, weekly, and even monthly schedule in advance. It also helps you to avoid any unpleasant work surprises such as a forgotten deadline, meeting, or task.
In order to better plan your freelancing schedule, you need to understand where you make the best or worst use of your work time. You earn more money when you work faster, while at the same time maintaining a high standard of output. Especially during the early stages of your freelancing career, it’s important to discover different ways to speed up your workflow and increase productivity.
This is best achieved using time tracking software. A time tracker can automatically monitor and record how much time you spend on different tasks and client projects. The data is saved and presented in the form of charts and tables, which you can then study and decipher where speed and productivity can be improved.
Time tracking is also an essential feature if you charge clients by the hour.
It’s often hard to visualize or judge just how far you’ve progressed in a project or task. When there are a lot of different variables and the work is unusual in type and scope, then it can be tricky trying to figure out how much time is needed to accomplish the job. That’s where progress reporting comes in handy.
When you carefully track and plan every aspect of your work, you can judge your progress a lot more easily. Progress reporting software allows you to see what projects are currently active, what tasks are nearing a deadline, and the various different milestones reached. With smart software, you can get an up-to-date bird’s eye view of your progress for every client project, and more.
This information then allows you to adjust planned tasks accordingly and even delegate where needed. You can also share the data with clients and collaboration partners.
As a freelancer you’ll often find yourself working as part of a team, whether that’s in the same office as other team members or on the other side of the world. Collaboration tools allow you to share and update project work quickly and seamlessly.
The best collaboration software gives every member of the project team the ability to communicate in real-time, which allows for instant feedback. Plans and reports can be analyzed together, and tasks rearranged and ordered with everyone seeing the changes immediately.
The collaboration tools can also apply to freelancer-client interaction as well. You can share the current progress of the project directly with the client in real-time. They’ll see what you see and will be able to add notes to Kanban boards, documents, and images.
This instant sharing, editing, and collaboration saves time for everyone and reduces the need for long email threads and phone calls.
Invoicing can be a time-intensive task especially when you have a lot of clients. It can feel like you’re always writing invoices and quotes, calculating payments, and following up on late paying clients. If you’re using simple Word documents then invoicing becomes an even more laborious and chaotic process.
Good quality invoicing tools can automate many of your invoicing tasks. With Invoice Ninja, for example, you can create reoccurring invoices, auto-bill clients, automatically send out late payment reminders, set automatic late fees, and a whole lot more. Automation can dramatically reduce admin tasks and thereby improve general project management and productivity.
Fast and secure invoicing ensures a project runs smoothly from beginning to end. It can also improve the image of your freelancing business in the eyes of your clients.
Combining them all into one
We’ve mentioned five different types of tools in this post. Many of these tools are used in isolation and require separate accounts on platforms of unrelated companies. But what if you could enjoy all of these tools on one platform?
With Invoice Ninja, you can. We’ve developed an all-in-one app that combines every project management feature a freelancer could possibly need, regardless of what services you provide. From task planning and time tracking to real-time collaboration and integrated invoicing, our software can do it all.
You won’t need to sign into multiple different accounts. Everything required to oversee your projects, track your time, manage your schedule, and accurately bill clients, is available all under one dashboard. This integration results in faster workflows, easier time management, better focus, and a more affordable project management tool solution.
Managing projects and time more effectively is an essential pillar of a successful freelance career. Investing wisely in the right tools can quickly improve your productivity and planning, which in turn will result in faster project completion, a healthier cash flow, happier clients, and reduced stress.