Many admit they’ve become more productive after having shifted from office work to freelancing. That seems logical first: working from home is less stress and interruptions, more flexibility and comfort, and tons of saved time. Sounds a bit Pollyannaish, doesn’t it?

In reality, a freelancer is a sitting duck for all distractions possible. At home, there’s nobody but you to keep yourself in line, and it’s not only about raiding the fridge or watching fun videos every now and then. Juggling work and housekeeping/caregiving tasks looks like a good idea for many new freelancers, only to eventually turn into a (predictably) futile attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

The solution is to build effective time management habits. This means being mindful about how you’re using your time. It includes avoiding procrastination, automating routine activities, and having a big picture of your progress. Many freelancers prefer to use time management software tools as assistance in building up an efficient work routine. They automate repetitive tasks, add clarity to one’s work process, and help find the work-life balance.


Time-tracking is the core part of time management. It shows how efficient you are and where you are on your way to work goals. Using a time tracking tool not only helps you get accurate data for billing, but also gives you insights on what you could improve in your working process.

1. actiTIME

This solution combines time-tracking and work management features, providing its users with a high level project overview and an ability to drill down to visualize every single work process. actiTIME is convenient for freelancers, as it’s simple to set up and very intuitive, however, it includes robust features for data analysis. Its reports provide users with both summarized and detailed data on their performance, amounts billable to their clients, and the profitability of the work they are performing.

2. TopTracker

TopTracker offers a convenient way to keep record of work time. It has apps for various devices that help you track your work time in an easy and unobtrusive way. It can record time spent on certain tasks, take screen and webcam shots and allows you to set your own controls of the project, whether you’re working solo or in a team. It runs reports to show you your results and dynamics, and prepares exact data for invoicing and billing.

3. HourStack

A visual tool for time planning and tracking that helps freelancers stay organized and follow their plans. It’s sometimes hard to stick with the schedule you created for your workweek, but a tool like HourStack is a reliable way to follow the plan, stay updated on your current results, and get insights on how you can use your time better. In it, you can create schedules for the upcoming work periods, track time for your tasks, and reorganize work processes as needed. Run reports to see the breakdown of your work time by projects and assignments, and visualize the results with colorful charts.

4. Due

Due is a time-tracking tool that is focused on collecting data for billing and invoicing purposes. It also includes a payment solution that uses time-track data for calculating billable amounts and allows you to charge your clients for the performed work. This way, Due not only helps analyze your productivity and see where you can improve on your work processes, but also provides insights on the profitability of the projects that you’re running.

Billing & invoicing automation

Accounting tasks are the hardest ones for most freelancers – except for those who are professional accountants. That said, their importance cannot be overestimated: accuracy of the data used for billing directly influences your income, and clarity in communicating billable amounts to your clients defines your reputation and work perspectives. So, it’s worth automating this area of activity to save your time and achieve flawless accuracy of your billing data.

1. Bonsai

Bonsai accounting tool is designed to allow freelancers to get paid without any hassle. Its integrations and automation features reduce effort spent on manual data collection, calculation and processing. It also automates preparation of the necessary documents – not only invoices, but also proposals, contracts and reports, and covers your business from the bottom to the top. This tool allows you to focus on your actual work and spend less time on sorting out accounting activities.

2. Wave

Wave accounting, invoicing and expense tracking solutions are built specifically for freelancers, small businesses and solopreneurs. It eliminates the need for any manual work for your finance management, keeps all essential information in one place, and saves your time. This helps you stay informed on all the necessary financial details, manage cash flow, easily bill clients, and get a clear picture of your expenses and revenue.

3. Invoice2go

This invoicing solution is designed to streamline your billing process. It helps you create professional-looking invoices, accepts debit and credit card payments, keeps you updated on the invoice statuses, and tracks receipts. With this tool, it’s easier to stay informed on your business performance, manage revenue, and handle outstanding payments. It helps you get paid faster and significantly reduces time spent on preparing and sending invoices.

4. Momenteo

Momenteo is a free quote and invoicing software that helps small businesses and freelancers tackle the challenges of financial work. It helps create invoices and manage their status, prepare and send estimates of the upcoming tasks, schedule and track your activities in a calendar, keep and manage your client database, and track expenses. Bottom line: the tool is packed with everything you need to run a successful business.

Project management

Many freelancers are reluctant to the idea of adopting project management tools. At the first steps of your freelancing journey when you can keep every detail of the projects that you run in your head, it seems like an overkill. However, project-related data accumulates as the business expands, and the majority of freelancers eventually find it reasonable to start using a project management tool. In the light of this, it’s totally worth choosing a scalable solution and adopting it from the very beginning – just to take the stress out of your future work.

1. Hector

Hector project management app is designed specifically for freelancers and offers simple and convenient ways to manage several small projects. The tool keeps all information on a single dashboard: active and upcoming projects, to-dos, and details. It allows you to structure your projects by adding and tracking milestones, and to collaborate with others. Currently, Hector is free, and its creator emphasizes that the tool is meant to be affordable and solve all project management tasks with less time and effort.

2. ProProfs

Whether you’re working on a project alone or with a team, a simple project management tool speeds the collaboration up and helps avoid any miscommunication. ProProfs app is a simple and intuitive tool for managing projects of any size and automating the routine processes. A calendar view helps visualize milestones and stay informed on the upcoming deadlines. And team collaboration features ensure timely and clear communication on the project-related issues.

3. SquidHub

SquidHub suits both teams and individuals. It offers rich collaboration capabilities that can be used for communication within a team or with customers. The tool also has internal file-sharing – regardless of what file storage service you’re using: Office 365, Google Drive, or Dropbox. The basic plan is free and includes simple features for project management.

Work-life balance management

And last but definitely not least: work-life balance. Freelancer’s income isn’t always stable, so many decide to take on more work than they can handle without getting burnt out. The worst thing about burnout is that you notice it when it’s already hardly reversible – so staying mindful about your workloads is key here. Try using special apps as an external stimulus to maintain healthy work-life balance.

1. TimeTune

This app is designed to help people optimize their routines and get more of their time. Basically, it’s about keeping record of how you are using your time, seeing dynamics, and making decisions on what needs to be changed or improved. Consider using this app to discover how much time you spend working, and see if your wellbeing improves with changing the work/rest time proportion.

2. Space

Your phone is indispensable for getting work done, but it’s also one of your biggest distractions. Using it consciously is a challenge for many of us, and this app is built to help develop productive phone usage habits. Consider using it to disconnect from games and social media, stop checking your email every ten minutes, and take back control of your mobile device. The app visualizes your progress, unlocks achievements, and shows quotes for daily inspiration.

3. Pacifica

Even when you’re working on achieving a healthy balance in your daily work, sometimes overloads do happen. If stress is already there, find a way to relax and meditate. Pacifica app offers various ways of relaxation and finding your inner peace. You can also use it to track your mood and health, set and achieve short-term and long-term goals, and review your progress over time.

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Author's Bio: 

Arina is the CMO of actiTIME, an online platform helping thousands of companies track time and efficiently manage projects of any size. She is passionate about digital marketing and can give tips on productivity and time management.