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Last week, I wrote about how busy we all are, and I had several people tell me that they really related to the post. I know I’m not alone in my wish that I had more time to spend doing the things I love, so today, I thought I’d share my favorite time-saving productivity tools. I’m a freelancer, and these tools help me stay on top of all the many things I have to do. I honestly couldn’t run my business without them. But even if you’re not a small business owner, these tools can help you manage your time and your to-do list, which means more time to do the fun stuff.
Note: Some of these have premium versions available, but even the free versions are fabulous. If you’re looking for a way to improve efficiency and make life or work a little easier, give one (or all!) of these a try today.
Todoist is my to-do list app of choice. There’s a mobile version (IOS and Android), as well as a browser extension, so I can keep my to do list managed regardless of what device I’m using. You can sort tasks into different projects, assign deadlines, create repeating tasks, get daily reminder notifications, and more. I have tried several different to do list apps, but I keep coming back to Todoist.
UPDATE: I’ve recently switched to Todoist Premium to take advantage of some of their other features, and I love it even more now! It’s only $4/mo ($3/mo if you pay annually), and it saves me so much time!
I love love love love love Airtable. I am a major spreadsheet nerd—I make complicated spreadsheets for fun—but I wanted something that had a few more features than Excel offers. I actually first discovered Airtable thanks to an ad on Facebook, and the next hour was a constant stream of me squealing to myself over how perfect it was.
But Airtable is way more than spreadsheets. It’s basically an online database builder that is very intuitive and user friendly. You can create “bases” for anything, and then use different views (Grid, Form, Gallery, Calendar, Kanban) to review your data however you need. It’s pretty much Excel/Access meets Trello meets Google Calendar. I use it to manage orders, plan and track content for websites, keep an inventory of my digital assets so they’re easy to find, plan our weekly meals, track my family history progress, etc. One of the first things I do when I land a new client is to set up an Airtable base for them because even if I don’t yet know what I’ll use it for, I know that something will pop up quickly that will be a perfect fit for the program. And it does, without fail. I love it.
Check out Airtable today and get a 14-day trial of their premium features.
There’s no question that Facebook is a major productivity killer for me. StayFocusd is a browser extension for Chrome that allows you to block access to the sites you choose. You can either set a timer to allow yourself a certain amount of time on the site each day, after which you won’t be able to access it again until your daily reset time, or you can go “nuclear” and just block access for a certain amount of time. I like to set StayFocusd to block Facebook and other time-sucking sites during business hours so that it’s not even a temptation.
When I started by business, I knew I needed to record income and expenditures. I also needed to write a contract/proposal template, and I needed a way to track my time for billing those clients. My plan was to build some spreadsheets (see? I told you…) and see if I could find a free proposal template online to give me a starting point. And then I discovered AndCo. It’s a free service from Fiverr, an online freelancer marketplace, and it does all of that. I can make proposals and get them approved by clients in about 5 minutes. I can send legal contracts tailored to my business. I can track my time and expenses, send invoices, and even get paid with direct deposit through their partnership with WePay. All of that for free! It has been an absolute lifesaver, and I love that it helps me present a professional front to my clients without adding more work to my plate. If you’re a freelancer or a small business owner, AndCo is an excellent tool to add to your toolbox.
UPDATE: AndCo has introduced a premium service, and consequently, their free version is a little more limited than it used to be. Because it no longer meets my needs, I have switched to a premium Airtable subscription and use it for managing all of my business records and invoicing. However, I left AndCo on this list because I still think it’s a valuable tool for small businesses who only have a few recurring clients/projects each month.
Y’all know that I’m a bona fide journal fanatic, and my journal is such an integral part of my daily routine that I wouldn’t know how to function without it. Seriously. If all the other tools on this list were to suddenly disappear, my journal would be enough to keep me on track.
I have recently switched over to journals with dotted pages (instead of lined) and I love the freedom it gives me to be creative and set things up however I want. I use mine as a mix between a diary and a planner. I start every day with the same template: my standard daily goals (thing like reading my scriptures and drinking enough water), my prioritized to-do list, and important events for today and tomorrow. I’m far too lazy (read: busy) to go all out crazy with layouts like some bullet journalers do, but it’s easy enough to customize any journal to make it feel like yours. Then I’ll write a little about the events of the day, either as they happen or at night before I go to bed. Not only does this help me leave a record for future generations, but it helps me stay on top of long term goals, work assignments, and housekeeping tasks. If there’s ever any question of when I did something—or if I even did it at all—I can look back in my journal and know for certain.
What are your favorite productivity tools?
I’d love to hear about them! Tell us about your favorites in the comments or tag your posts on social media with #jestkeptsecret!
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