Tools for Organizing Your Work and Managing Your Time

Getting organized. Image found on Flickr by californiaAmy. One key to having a successful and enjoyable freelancing life is having a number of clients. If one large customer monopolizes your time, you might as well get a job. But with journalism in full meltdown, the future of publishing more uncertain than ever and the corresponding delays in decision making, payment, etc., I work with more clients now than I have in the past. Previously, I might work with between 3 and 5 clients; now I'm working with between 7 and 11. The key to managing all this? Disciplined time management and organization. 

The organizing tools help me keep up with what's happening and deliver my projects on time:

  • Bento, this Mac program is a consumer-friendly version of the database program Filemaker. It allows me to organize my work by project; save all of the emails, notes, files and To Do's for each project in the same place; and combine the tasks from all of my project To-Do's onto one master list. Bento's text editor is very basic, though, and doesn't allow you to underline, italicize or boldface. I find the Bento iPhone app a bit disappointing as well; the To Do list doesn't sync to the phone -- apparently an iCal issue. 
  • For that reason I use ReQall, a voice-enabled memory aid that has a great app for my iPhone. I just pull out my phone when I'm out and about or before bedtime and dictate or type reminders about what I want to do later. I have ReQall email me reminders at the specified date and time. The only problem that I have with the program is that the voice-recording feature doesn't always work. As a result some of my verbal To Do's get lost in the sauce because the program never converts them to text. 
  • I also use Evernote, a web-based program and iPhone app that allows me to take notes, record memos, take pictures of things that I want to remember, and search for everything I record. Evernote compensates for Bento's text editing limitations.  
  • MacJournal is a great program -- I really like its ability to send postings to my blog. But I wouldn't use Bento if I hadn't experienced snafus with attachments. Also, it's not web-based, nor does it have an iPhone app.   
  • Toggl is a web-based program and iPhone app that allows me to record billable hours.