Three online tools every freelancer should try

By: John McGarvey

Date: 17 May 2011

Working freelance has its own particular challenges. If you're busy with work, you're forever juggling projects, priorities and individual tasks, leaving scant time for other important jobs, like admin and marketing your own services.

I should know: when I'm not hard at work on the IT Donut, I'm usually helping other clients.

To keep in touch with my clients and on top of everything, I rely on three key tools. Fellow freelancers, if you haven't tried these yet, give them a go:

  • Remember the Milk is a super-slick to-do list system. You can plug in all your tasks, large and small, and then assign them to different categories. You can then set deadlines and any other information you need to keep yourself on track. There are plenty of advanced features: you can set a location for each task, show tasks in your calendar or email, and - as you'd expect - access everything through an app for your mobile phone. But the basic version of Remember the Milk is easy to use and free.
  • Dropbox is an online backup and file sharing tool that just works. Download the software, install it on your computer and choose where you want your 'Dropbox' to go. Then, anything you save in your Dropbox is automatically backed up across the internet. What's more, you can install Dropbox on to all your computers and it'll makes sure your files are mirrored on all of them. The entry-level Dropbox package is free.
  • Skype is an instant messaging and voice over IP service, which means you can place telephone calls through your computer. More and more I find myself reaching for Skype instead of picking up the phone. With a headset connected to my computer I chat to other Skype users for free. It costs to call other telephones, but is particularly useful for freelancers because you can choose a landline number to use with Skype, so people can call you on it - and if you're not at your computer, you can divert calls elsewhere.

Are you freelance? What online tool couldn't you operate without?

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