Stop by any local coffee shop and chances are you’ll see a dozen or so freelancers, heads down on their computers.
The contract workforce dubbed the “gig economy” is booming. Studies estimate that 53 million people in the United States are freelance workers to some degree.
While the gig economy shows no signs of slowing down in the years to come, the challenges that come with managing your own time remain. With distractions from social media, news, and chat, staying productive can be difficult.
Whether you’re a full-time freelancer, or growing your side hustle, it can be difficult to hold yourself accountable to stay productive.
The next time you find yourself distracted, check out these 5 tools to help stay focused, productive and efficient.
1. Tomato Timer – An Easy to use Pomodoro Technique Timer
The Pomodoro Technique was conveniently named after the inventor’s tomato-shaped timer. For those who are unfamiliar, it is a productivity hack that breaks up large tasks into shorter time intervals. The cyclical system trains the brain to work in productive 25-minute sprints, followed by a 5-minute break.
Tomato Timer is a website with a simple timer that allows you to keep track of your 25-minute sprints and breaks. It also offers features like desktop notifications and extended breaks.
Give this technique a try, and see how it helps to improve your productivity.
2. Stay Focused – Limit Time on Distracting Websites
You pour a coffee, sit down at your desk and tell yourself today is going to be a productive day. Next thing you know, you’ve scoured through 200 pages of Reddit and scrolled endlessly through Facebook with not an email sent.
We can all related to the black hole that the internet can become at times. Stay Focused is a Chrome Extension that helps you combat the daily distractions.
You can set time limits for your favorite sites, and once your time is up, you can’t extend it. They even offer a “Nuclear Option,” which blocks everything on your list and can’t be deactivated. If you’re feeling distracted, give Stay Focused a shot to get your productivity back on track.
3. Toggl – Time Tracking Made Simple
Love it or not, what gets measured gets managed.
There’s no arguing that time tracking helps you to better manage productivity. Understanding where your time is spent during your work day is crucial and oftentimes mandatory for companies.
There are a handful of free time tracking tools out there, however, the best one we’ve found is Toggl. They’ve kept the design and functionality simple, allowing you to track time to specific clients and projects.
Toggl offers paid plans, however, for the solo contractor, the free version is a great place to start. Start tracking your time per project in Toggl and see how it helps to improve your productivity.
4. LastPass – All of Your Passwords Secured in One Place
As a contract worker, you can relate to managing dozens, if not hundreds of passwords. Keeping these secure and in one place can be a nightmare without the right tool.
LastPass is a freemium vault that helps you to store, organize and generate passwords. Once set up, you can seamlessly log into your apps in a single click. Since all passwords are encrypted in the cloud, there’s no need to fret over security for you or your client’s passwords.
Head over to their website, and set up a free account; your password woes will be gone in no time.
5. Hemingway App – Artificial Intelligence for Better Writing
With over 205 billion emails sent per day, writing is an essential part of your everyday role. Whether we admit it or not, there’s always room for improvement in our communication.
Fortunately for us, there’s Hemingway. Hemingway is a web application that uses artificial intelligence to analyze your writing.
If you’re using too many adverbs, passive voice, or have sentences that are hard to read, the app will let you know. Next time you’re writing an email, head over to Hemingway, and see how you can improve it before you hit “send.”
The rise of contract work doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. While companies implement new tools to better track and manage their teams, it’s up to us to ensure we’re staying productive and efficient in our work day. If you find yourself unproductive or are looking to experiment with ways to better manage your time and workflow, give these tools a try.