When you’re a freelancer, your time is money — literally. You likely bill your clients based on how much time you spend working for them. Therefore, the more time you have to spend doing actual work, the more money you can make.
But, an eight-hour day can go quickly when you’re constantly putting effort into repetitive tasks that could be automated. But, wait? Isn’t automation only for companies that can afford to buy fancy software and AI tools?
No longer! Technology has advanced so much that it’s leveled the playing field when it comes to workflow automation. Many automation apps are available for very budget-friendly prices, or even for free.
Say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to more time in your day.
Here are six productivity tools to help you get more done during the day:
1. Set up an e-signature
As an independent contractor, you’re most likely doing a lot of communication without your clients via email or text message, depending on the relationship. However, there are still forms you need to send and sign.
WPESignature is a helpful and easy-to-use platform that lets you build a contract, input custom fields and save it as a PDF, if desired. You get signature from your clients and feel good knowing that the service is UETA/ESIGN complaint, so it adheres to strict US and European document-signing policies.
2. Get more from your apps
This tool is the mother of all productivity tools. Zapier allows all your apps, tools and gadgets to communicate with one another, so you don’t have to.
For example, you can tell Zapier to create a new Trello card when you star a message on Slack. It can update a spreadsheet when a SurveyMonkey response is submitted, make a note in Evernote when you add a task in Asana — the options are endless depending on which apps you typically use.
The best part about Zapier is that the free plan allows you to run up to 100 zaps per month. If you find yourself needing to use it more often, you can upload to a premium plan for more zaps, tasks and sophisticated automation.
3. Automate you invoicing
Whether you’re a freelance writer or a self-employed accountant, chances are you don’t want to be spending two hours a day writing invoices out to your clients. This tool will process your invoices, make payments and help you manage your projects.
If you’re someone who’s always losing track of your billing schedules, And Co can also help make sure you’re never late on sending an invoice or making a payment again. It can even help you prepare your taxes by automatically tacking, reconciling and categorizing your expenses.
4. Get your proposals drafted up for you
Another task that most freelancers dread is drafting proposals for their prospective clients. Half of the time, proposals won’t lead to business, so it can be difficult to justify taking the time to create them — yet another reason to automate your busywork and improve your productivity.
Fortunately, free tools like Google Docs allow you to create your own proposal templates to use again and again. You can also browse the template gallery and use one of several project proposal templates already available. Once your proposal is ready, you can simply text or email the shared link to your potential client.
5. Get reference links automatically redirected
If you’re a blogger or other type of online writer, you’re likely including links in most of your content. Inserting a hyperlink might seem like a quick task, but if you’re doing in frequently throughout the day, it can get tedious and time-consuming. If you use WordPress, whether it’s for your own freelance web site or another organization, the Linkify Text plugin could come in handy.
This plugin allows you to choose keywords or phrases that will be automatically linked to predetermined URLs whenever you use them in a post. You can even enable the plugin for comments, make them case-sensitive and limit it to form only one link per post.
6. Pause and schedule emails on command
Let’s admit it — we’re all guilty of wasting time sending and responding to emails when we should really be doing something productive. For scatterbrains and procrastinators, Email Scheduler for Gmail and Inbox Pause are two tools you won’t want to miss out on.
Right Inbox allows you to schedule all your important emails for the day in one sitting, rather than having to do it periodically throughout the day. This way, you can schedule what you need to, close your email and forget about it until it’s time to check for updates.
On the other hand, Inbox Pause lets you decide when you want to be notified about new messages in your inbox. It can be hard to focus all of your attention on a task with a deadline when you’re seeing the number of unread emails in the other tab continue to grow. By using Inbox Pause, you won’t see new messages until it’s a good time for you to read, respond and take action based on their contents.
By using these six tools, you’ll be able to increase your productivity by automating more of your day-to-day busywork without sacrificing time you could otherwise dedicate to your clients.