Project Management & Planning Articles

Home Working Heaven: 14 Sanity-Saving Apps for Freelancers

by Deeksha Malik
Published on 24 February 2017

The idea of working from home can be idyllic but for those who take the plunge the reality of going solo can quickly turn scary. There are plenty of challenges you face as a home worker, but thankfully there's a bunch of cloud-based software for freelancers hat can help you overcome them without fear.

In this post, we'll discuss what all apps can be useful while you're working from home. We'll highlight what features to look out for when buying them and give you some examples of some of the most popular apps for freelancers.

Challenge 1: Managing your projects

Remember Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's famous ban on remote-work, when she said "speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home"? But the reality doesn't have to be this way. Project management apps for freelancers such as Basecamp and Trello can help you manage your projects and collaborate with stakeholders so your work can run smoothly.

Basecamp

Basecamp lets you manage your internal team projects as well as client projects. Its dashboard gives you an overview of your project-related tasks through to-do lists, documents, and events. You can host events, meetings and discussions, send emails and messages, share files, and assign tasks with the tool. You can also set permissions for restricted access to your files and folders. Basecamp integrates with third-party apps like Geckoboard, Usersnap, SnapEngage, FreshBooks, and LiveChat. Basecamp's TimeCamp integration automatically syncs your Basecamp tasks with TimeCamp projects to let you track the time for each task easily.

Pricing: From $29 per month.

Basecamp screenshot

Trello

Trello is well-known for its system of cards and boards. You can use cards to manage projects and tasks, and to track their progress. The front side of the cards gives project overview while the flip side gives other details like due dates, attachments, checklists, and comments. The app maintains an activity log of all the cards you have subscribed to. The tool can be used for personal use as well as for collaboration with the team. It can also be used as an idea repository, lesson planner, or a community bulletin. Trello integrates with Dropbox, Slack, Evernote, MailChimp, and more.

Pricing: Base package is free with unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists, and attachments.

Trello screenshot

Challenge 2: Organizing your time

Another common problem people face while working from home is getting hours under control. You plan to manage a task easily but by the time you shoot the email, you realize you just spent 45 minutes extra on that task. When you're ingrained with the 9-5 mentality, you have to coach yourself to deal with such time crunches.

Time tracking apps like TSheets and TimeCamp give you a virtual kudos when you complete your tasks on time, or a nudge when you lag behind.

TSheets

TSheets' online web dashboard can turn any desktop, laptop or mobile device into a time tracker. TSheets for mobile includes GPS location tracking and allow you to log time from anywhere. You can also create and edit your timesheet with a text message and keep track of hours worked, project changes, and more, even when working from home. TSheets integrates with apps like Expensify, Xero, QuickBooks Online, Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, and more. The TSheets Xero integration helps during payroll by syncing employees, pay periods, and time.

TSheets allows you to invoice through the software, or take advantage of the integrations with Xero, QuickBooks, and Gusto, to create invoices outside of TSheets using timesheet data from the software.

Pricing: $20 monthly base fee, plus $5 per user. The freemium version is for one user and unlimited projects.

TSheets screenshot

TimeCamp

TimeCamp lets you manage billable and non-billable work hours, invoices and attendance, even when you are working from home. Its one-click visual time tracking feature, graphical timesheets and powerful reports let you track your time efficiently. You can also evaluate your productivity, review hours spent on tasks and obtain timesheet approvals.

TimeCamp offers seamless integration with apps like Xero, Slack, and Insightly. The TimeCamp Xero integration allows you to record the hours spent on a task and then automatically converts the data to an invoice.

Pricing: Basic plan costs $6per user per month, while Pro plan costs $9 per user per month.

Timecamp screenshot

Challenge 3: Managing your documents

It can be a nightmare to store and share all your documents and electronic files when working remotely. It generally builds slowly - an email here, incoming invoices there, electronic receipts and client correspondence. And before you realize, you've got a clutter of documents with no way to find the one you need. Two popular document management apps - GSuite and Dropbox - can help you out here.

G Suite

G Suite is an all-in-one suite that combines Google's popular productivity and collaboration tools. The tools include Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, Google+, Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets, Forms, and Slides. Google Admin Console and Google Vault control these apps. Google Admin Console allows you to manage devices, add users, and configure data security setting. Google Vault lets you search, archive, and export your emails and chats.

G Suite integrates with apps like FreshBooks, Pipedrive, Xero, Zoho CRM, Workable, Freshdesk, and lots more. The G Suite FreshBooks integration lets you invoice Google contacts, preview client emails from Gmail, as well as sign in to FreshBooks directly from the G Suite dashboard.

Pricing: From $5 per month.

GSuite screenshot

Dropbox

Dropbox is a free cloud storage solution that helps you ensure all of your files and folders are automatically synced to all your devices. You can also backup images and videos automatically from your mobile device or laptop. In addition, you can edit and work on the same file with your teammates through a shared folder. You can as well share videos with anyone, even if they don't have a Dropbox account.

Dropbox offers integration with Trello, HubSpot, Xero, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Slack, and lots more. Dropbox's Trello integration lets you attach files or photos from your Dropbox account directly to your Trello account.

Pricing: Free for basic package.

Dropbox screenshot

Challenge 4: Staying connected

Don't go invisible. Stay connected with your team and make your presence felt even when working from home with instant messaging (IM) and chat tools like HipChat and Glip.

HipChat

HipChat is a messaging app with unlimited chatrooms that allows you to share files and chat in real-time with your team or clients. You can set restricted access to the chats through administrator controls. The app offers group chat, video calling, and screen sharing options.

HipChat offers integration with JIRA, Bitbucket, GitHub, Zendesk, and more. HipChat's Basecamp integration allows exchange of instant messages via HipChat whenever there is a new document or attachment in Basecamp.

Pricing: Basic plan is free for unlimited users, while HipChat Plus plan costs $2 per user per month.

HipChat

Glip

Glip is another instant messaging app that lets you connect and collaborate with your team in real-time even when working from home. It offers features like group chats, video calling, file sharing, task management, and event scheduling.

Glip offers integration with MailChimp, Zendesk, JIRA, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, and more. Glip's Trello integration posts messages on Glip conversation of your choice about key activities occurring on a specific Trello board.

Pricing: Free plan, Basic plan ($5/user/month), and Pro plan ($10/user/month).

Glip screenshot

Challenge 5: Online meetings

Figuring out how to set up and attend online meetings with your team members and clients from home can be a challenge. Online meeting tools like Zoho Meeting and RingCentral can be helpful. Let's see how:

Zoho Meeting

Zoho Meeting is a web conference and remote assistance app that lets you host and create web meetings. You can share your desktop with the audiences during the meeting, demonstrate products and services to potential clients, and even announce new product launch. The app also lets you conduct online trainings through desktop sharing.

Zoho Meeting's G Suite integration lets you host web meetings with team members, clients, and customers. You can as well share presentations and conduct webinars.

Pricing: From $12 per month.

Zoho Meeting screenshot

RingCentral

RingCentral is a cloud business communications app offering video conferencing, audio calls, text chats, and eFax. It lets you share your screen, documents, and websites with the audiences during the meeting. You can as well record the discussion for future reference. RingCentral works well with Microsoft Outlook, allowing you to setup or start a meeting directly from your Outlook.

RingCentral integrates with ServiceNow, Zendesk, Desk.com, Dropbox, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Microsoft Office 365, G Suite, among others. RingCentral's Dropbox integration lets you archive RingCentral data in your Dropbox account. You can as well fax or share any Dropbox file while using RingCentral.

Pricing: From $19.99 per month.

RingCentral screenshot

Challenge 6: Invoicing and tracking expenses

Are you still using Microsoft Word or Excel to bill your clients? Especially if you are a freelancer, not getting paid by clients timely, or at all, is a challenge. You can overcome such issues with the help of invoicing and expense tracking apps for freelancers like FreshBooks and Xero. From preparing a professional-looking invoice to tracking your entire expenses, these tools do everything for you.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks helps you with sending and managing invoices, tracking your billable time, and collecting online payments. Its easy-to-use payment options enable your clients to make instant payments upon receiving the invoice. Your clients can make online payments so you don't have to deal with hassle of handling checks or cash.

FreshBooks integrates with Xpenditure, Dropbox, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, MailChimp, and lots more apps.

Pricing: From $15 per user per month.

FreshBooks screenshot

Xero

Using Xero, you can immediately send an invoice once the job is done. You can choose among the professional invoice templates or customize and design your own. It lets you accept payments online via debit or credit cards, or with PayPal. The app also sends automatic invoice payment reminders to your clients.

Xero integrates with TSheets, Quotient, WorkflowMax, and dozens more. Xero's TSheets integration lets you create detailed and accurate invoices using your billable time.

Pricing: From $20 per month.

Xero screenshot

Challenge 7: Staying secure

For remote workers and the organization itself, security can be a big issue. Be it data security or losing the laptop, the impact can be catastrophic especially if your business deals with sensitive data. Thankfully, online password managers like LastPass or Dashlane Business can ensure that you don't have to worry about security issues and concentrate on other productive tasks.

LastPass

LastPass provides you with a single username and master password to access all the sites saved to your LastPass account. You can secure your LastPass account by enabling two-factor authentication even if your master password was captured. The app can be downloaded as an add-on to any browser. It also lets you share file folders, logins, and notes among teams and departments.

Pricing: $48 per user per year for 1-100 users.

LastPass screenshot

ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus

Imagine if someday you forgot your password and your account gets locked. You have a meeting in next 10 minutes and you don't have the time to call the IT guy to fix the issue for you. Thankfully password reset apps like ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus can assist you with password reset or recovery instantly. With this web-based app, you can reset your system password yourself, unlock your account, and update your personal details in Microsoft Windows Active Directory. You also get an advance notification about password expiry. Other key features of the app include password synchronizer, multi-factor authentication, and mobile password management.

Pricing: Details available on request

ManageEngine screenshot

Working from home can't always be about sunshine and rainbows. You can have it work wonders or it can be a complete mess as well. But, when it goes wrong, a right software can be a savior.

If you are using or have used any of the above apps or similar others, sound off a review here.


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