25 tools to become a more productive freelancer
Like most freelancers, you probably spend long hours at work and rarely refuse a job. There is no reason to refuse jobs as long as it’s well paid, so let’s take a look at how you could cut out some hours of work. Of course, tools are not the only thing that will increase your productivity, you should also have good working habits, but the following tools should help you to become more productive nonetheless.
The best way to kickstart your web projects, frameworks take care of a lot of dirty work for you and allow you to be much more productive.
Stop wasting time turning your PSD designs into HTML-CSS functional pages and take advantage of other designers’ work. HTML-CSS frameworks set a base for quicker development.
1. HTML5 boilerplate
The future proof HTML template, includes extensive documentation.
2. 960 Grid system
One of the most popular grid systems on the web, based on a width of 960 pixels. Also downloadable in many formats.
Yet another multicolumn layout, a standard focused framework that gives you a thin core easily extensible.
4. Eric Meyer’s CSS reset
Not exactly a framework, but a real time saver when starting a new website by reducing browser inconsistencies. If you use another framework you may not need it as it is often included in popular HTML-CSS frameworks.
One of the first CSS frameworks, created by top-notch web designers, it is used by many popular websites.
The newcomer CSS framework, has many innovative features like mobile & tablet support or advanced typography.
WordPress Theme frameworks
A Theme framework is a Theme designed to be a flexible foundation for quicker WordPress development, it is often used as a parent theme to create child-themes.
Built upon the 960 grid system, Thematic is a powerful and well-organized, full of options and SEO friendly.
In the service industry, you are selling your know-how and your time, that’s why managing your time is so important.
RescueTime is an awesome app that helps you focus, tracks your time and claim to help people recover an average of almost 4 hours of working time every week.
Track your time and make sure you hit your budget.
Track your time, easily switch between tasks and create reports of your time spent working.
To-do lists management
Using to-do lists and managing it well is crucial in becoming more productive, handling a list of things to do helps you to get it off your mind and set short-term goals.
Organize your actions and projects online, based on the famous GTD techniques.
The minimalist to-do list app, with recuring dates, sub-projects and much more.
Probably the to-do list app with the best design, take a look for yourself.
Browsers and plugins
Most freelancers spend a lot of time on their browser emailing, editing, looking for inspiration or simply networking. Here are a few tools to help you make your browsing time more productive.
18. Firefox extensions
Quickly share articles on social media sites.
Block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day.
- Copy plain text
Copy text on websites with formatting.
- URL fixer
Doesn’t let you make typos when you enter a URL.
- Read it later
You want to read an article but shouldn’t stop focusing on what you are doing? Just keep it to read it later.
19. Chrome extensions
- Image search
Improve your image search with this highly customizable plugin.
- Goo.gl URL shortener
One-click URL shortener that makes it quicker to share links on Facebook or Twitter.
- Slit screen
Split your browser’s screen to compare two webpages.
- Clickable links
Turn any text link or email into a clickable version of it.
- Pixlr Grabber
Take screenshots in Google Chrome and automatically upload it to imm.io, an image sharing service.
- Stay focused
Limit the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.
20. Safari plugins
Edit the CSS of any web page right in the browser.
- Drag & Drop file upload
Not a plugin, but a pretty cool feature that not everybody knows about. In Safari you can upload your file by just dragging it in your browser.
WebWatch extension helps you to track time you spend on any website.
The URL shortener you can use from your Safari toolbar, create either bit.ly or goo.gl links.
21. Internet Explorer
- Developer tools
Not a plugin but a built-in tool since IE8, with many great analysis tools for developers.
Oomph automatically finds contacts, addresses, and events and allows you to quickly import them into Outlook.
Synchronize and back up all your favorite websites and bookmarks as well as find other popular websites based on what the other millions of XMarks users are bookmarking.
Another way to be productive is to let your computer do the work for you everytime you can, here are some ways to do so.
22. Photoshop actions
Many things can be automated in Photoshop, I will not list them all here, but you can download many Photoshop Actions by taking a look at the following blog posts:
- The Ultimate Collection Of Useful Photoshop Actions – Smashing Magazine
- 10 Free Photoshop Actions for automating tasks – Best Design Options
- 40 Photoshop Actions for Designers and Photographers – Designm.ag
- 100+ Photography Enhancing Photoshop Actions – Web Design Ledger
23. Email automation
If you don’t handle it right, email can take a lot of time. Hopefuly you can use filters and tricks to spend less time in your inbox.
A more productive Gmail
To make Gmail more productive, here are a few tips:
- Use filters & labels
Filters are the best way to let Gmail sort your emails before you see them. First you need to create a new label by using Labels > Manage Labels, add your new label and then create a filter to apply this label to some emails. This allows you to sort newsletters, friends or clients emails and access the important ones quicker.
- Use keyboard shortcuts
Gmail has a bunch of time-saving keyboard shortcuts, see the list here.
- Automate replies
With Gmail, you can send automated replies so that your prospects don’t have to wait for your answers. Combined with filters, this can allow you to answer very very quickly to some recuring questions.
- Use search operators
My favorite part about Gmail? No need to organize things in folders, just search for it! To find what you want quicker, add some advanced operators like from:firstname.lastname@example.org, to:email@example.com, has:attachment or filetype:pdf. See the full list of Gmail search operators here.
Outlook productivity tools
I’m not an Outlook user, thus not in a good position to give advice, but you can take a look at this article to find productivity tools for Outlook.