Whether you’re starting up a new venture on the side or taking the plunge to go it alone full-time, managing your workload, time, and new information can feel like a daunting prospect. However, never fear - now there are websites, apps, and organisations designed to make the trickier elements of working for yourself a breeze.
If you’re anxious about leaving the support of full-time employment, it’s definitely worth checking out IPSE - The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, an organisation that prides itself on being the voice of independent workers in the UK. Membership will get you a whole host of benefits, including legal advice, access to community forums, and form templates. To stay up to date with everything happening in the world of self-employment, it’s also worth checking out dedicated websites such as Freelancer News, as well as the Guardian Small Business section.
Managing your time can be one of the key challenges of working for yourself. There are plenty of apps out there designed to get you working efficiently, but one of the most well-loved methods is also one of the simplest - the Pomodoro Technique, developed in the 1980s. In this technique, you work in 25-minute bursts with five-minute breaks at the end of every ‘pomodoro’ (named after the tomato-shaped timer that the founder used to keep focused). You’d be surprised at what you can achieve when you focus your whole attention on a task for twenty-five uninterrupted minutes. You can find an easy to use Pomodoro timer online here.
If you’re working for different clients and on different jobs, Toggl is a way to log the hours you’re spending and see where you can make improvements. You can create reports for yourself, or for your clients, to show the breakdown of your time, and to ensure you’re being compensated fairly for the effort you’re putting in. Knowing you’re on a timer can also be a great motivator to stay focused. If all else fails, there’s one app beloved of self-directed workers the world over, including author Zadie Smith. This app is SelfControl, which blocks certain websites from you for a specific amount of time. If you can’t drag yourself away from social media or the news, it’s a great solution - and also helps you become more aware of your procrastination behaviours.
Gone are the days of making hurried lists on post-it notes (in theory). Now there are many options for making digital to-do lists, and one of the most popular is Todoist. You can access your to-do-list on your browser or on mobile, collaborate, set recurring tasks, and colour-code to your heart’s content, if you like that sort of thing.
Tools such as Evernote can also help centralise your work by providing you with a way to store notes, images, receipts and more across one easily-organised platform. It syncs across devices so that you can work from browsers or mobiles, and everything is searchable too, so you can find important information when you need it.
Collaborating when working remotely can be a real challenge - without being able to pop over to someone’s desk, how can you ensure that collaborations happen swiftly and effectively? Google Docs is widely-used, free and invaluable tool for the self-employed and freelance. Not only can you share your own documents with other people, you can also collaborate on these with others too - think a team working on one blog post together, or a spreadsheet that a whole team has access to so there’s total transparency about a project’s progress.
One area that can be particularly frustrating when freelancing is sending emails, and then following up people. With the app Boomerang you can schedule emails in advance, and if you don’t hear back it can remind you to follow them up, as well as archiving important messages that you don’t have time to deal with at that second. By bringing it back unread when you have more time, it means important things don’t get lost.
And no collaboration section would be complete without Slack. When time is of the essence and lots of crucial things are being juggled, Slack’s messaging system can be a faster way to communicate when working remotely, saving on constant following up and lost emails.
The information contained in this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice on any matter. Use of this website is at users own risk and is not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship between Virgin StartUp and any user. Information displayed on this website is provided “as is” and Virgin StartUp does not provide any express or implied warranty or representation concerning the information, including but not limited to the accuracy or appropriateness of the information. Virgin StartUp recommend that users seek their own legal advice before taking (or refraining from) taking any action and do not accept any liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the information displayed on this website to the fullest extent permitted by law.