Do More, Work Less: The Best Time-Saving Apps for Home Workers
In 2017, more of us than ever work from home or remotely. The very concept of the office is changing beyond all recognition. Take a typical working day: I access my work from home, liaise with business partners 120 miles away, rarely meet my clients face-to-face, and store almost all of my business online.
All of this is thanks to new technologies and apps. But if you’re just starting out as a freelancer or small business, what tools do you need to manage your projects, workflow and invoices? As a small business owner, here are the apps I believe are essential:
These Free or Cheap Tools Will Help You Get More Done in Less Time
If you work remotely, you need to be able to access any file, at any time, from any device. Google Drive is the obvious choice -- it allows you to share documents with individuals, make it publicly available on the web, and is free for up to 15GB of storage (but you can pay for more).
For those who require greater security, or if you need to share information on the cloud -- SugarSync and SpiderOak are better options. Unlike Google Drive, SugarSync allows you to backup any folder on your computer, upload and sync documents via email, and link up with any folder on your computer. This makes linking up your work easier -- but also gives you confidence that your files are safe, even if your laptop gives up on you.
SpiderOak is a good option if you are concerned about privacy. It offers a “zero knowledge” policy, which means the company itself doesn’t know what’s in your files, and can’t access them. Google Drive and most other apps do encrypt your files, but with SpiderOak the encryption key is with you, rather than the company -- adding an extra layer of security. With free trials available and a small monthly fee thereafter, it’s the cost of around two cups of coffee. So it may be worth the investment.
Managing your work
No matter what time constraints you have, family, travel or an ever-changing work pattern, technology can help you manage your time. With project management tools accessed online, you can login, manage your tasks, collaborate with teams, colleagues and even clients.
Good time management apps include Basecamp and Trello, but my favorite is Asana. This free online tool allows you to create projects and tasks, and follow the progress of those tasks from various browsers and devices. You can then add team members to tasks, share files with one another, and communicate on each project. The reason it’s my favorite time management app is because it allows you to break down jobs into multiple subtasks -- as well as being extremely user friendly.
However, if you’re looking for a way to just organize and keep on top of tasks, then more simplistic apps such as Wunderlist and Any.do may be best. As with most apps I’ve mentioned, they are easy to use and sync across all your devices.
There are other online tools which can help you manage specific tasks. Xero is a great tool for managing invoicing, quotes and cashflow. While Pipedrive is something I have discovered as an alternative to your usual customer relationship system such as or Hubspot. The benefit of Pipedrive is that it makes easy work of managing your sales pipeline, and keeping track of potential deals.
As we are all expected to be more productive, these free or cheap tools will help you get more done.
The Government Business website states that approximately 6 million employed people are now remote workers. This is only possible because technology is keeping us all connected online.
Skype and Google hangouts are obvious choices for voice or video calls. There are also web meeting tools such as GoToMeeting, which makes it possible for you to communicate as if you were meeting face-to-face.
Join.me is particularly good as it offers free screen sharing. This means you can easily swap presenters mid-meeting. With so many communication tools, it’s almost difficult to see the benefit of a physical meeting.
Apps and new technologies allow you to increase the security of your files and data, boost productivity, and saves you time. Time is the most precious resource, and anything we can do to manage our work more effectively is a bonus.
I’m glad I started my home-based business in the 21st century, in fact -- without time-saving apps like Skype, Sugarsync and Asana -- I don’t think I could have done so in any other era.
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Posted: 2017-02-09 @ 12:35am PT
My favorite connection of time-saving apps is Asana + TimeCamp. I'm impressed with the results because an appropriate project management combined with time tracking helps me stay better organized.
Posted: 2017-02-07 @ 11:00am PT
I am glad I found this article, both for myself and for people I coach. I use drive and skype but did not know about the others, can they be loaded onto windows?
Posted: 2017-02-07 @ 6:12am PT
Really interesting article! I think the ability to work from home or from wherever you are is attached to cloud technology. There are situations in which your co-workers are miles away but you need to work together on the same project. This was happening in my company very often so when we decided to buy a BPM software we thought that we needed a collaboration tool too. To conclude, we ended up buying a multi-software called Comidor and now 3/5 of my co-workers choose to work from home! It is amazing how technology changes the way we work!!!