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.

HTML-CSS frameworks

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.

5. Blueprint

One of the first CSS frameworks, created by top-notch web designers, it is used by many popular websites.

6. Inuit

The newcomer CSS framework, has many innovative features like mobile & tablet support or advanced typography.

Javascript frameworks

For the past few years, javascript frameworks have grown very popular. Not only they allow you to create on-page effects and features faster, they also make javascript accessible to non-programmers.

7. jQuery

Probably the most popular javascript framework at the moment, incredibly light and fast. Included in WordPress, Drupal and Textpattern.

8. MooTools

Another powerful javascript framework, very modular and object-oriented. Included in Joomla.

9. Prototype

A javascript framework featuring a unique, easy-to-use toolkit for class-driven development. Included in Magento.

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.

10. Thematic

Built upon the 960 grid system, Thematic is a powerful and well-organized, full of options and SEO friendly.

11. Hybrid

Developed by WordPress guru Justin Tadlock, Hybrid allows theme developers to forget about all the complex functionality and dive straight into coding their theme’s HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Time-management tools

In the service industry, you are selling your know-how and your time, that’s why managing your time is so important.

12. RescueTime

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.

13. Tick

Track your time and make sure you hit your budget.

14. Toggl

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.

15. Vitalist

Organize your actions and projects online, based on the famous GTD techniques.

16. ToDoist

The minimalist to-do list app, with recuring dates, sub-projects and much more.

17. TeuxDeux

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

  • Shareaholic
    Quickly share articles on social media sites.
  • LeechBlock
    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.
  • 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, an image sharing service.
  • Stay focused
    Limit the amount of time that you can spend on time-wasting websites.

20. Safari plugins

  • LiveCSS
    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
    WebWatch extension helps you to track time you spend on any website.
  • Shortly
    The URL shortener you can use from your Safari toolbar, create either or links.

21. Internet Explorer

  • Developer tools
    Not a plugin but a built-in tool since IE8, with many great analysis tools for developers.
  • Oomph
    Oomph automatically finds contacts, addresses, and events and allows you to quickly import them into Outlook.
  • xMarks
    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.

Automating tools

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:

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,, 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.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.