Life as a freelancer can be hard. Freelancers are responsible for all aspects of their business. They have to find clients, market their services, and handle all financial records and other paperwork in the business, as well as actually performing the service they are hired for. That is why many freelancers are always looking to make things just that little bit easier or more efficient. And this is precisely where life hacks come in.
Life hacks are productivity tricks. The term originated in the IT (information technology) industry where it was (and still is) used to describe a solution to an everyday computer-related problem. Later the term became popular with bloggers as a way of dealing with information overload and speeding up the workflow. Now there is a virtual plethora of applications available to freelancers to help solve their most common problems. Here is an overview of five productivity increasing applications.
Taskwarrior is a time and task management tool, inspired by the “Getting Things Done” philosophy of productivity consultant David Allen. The software is open-source and runs on many different platforms. It is downloadable for free from the Taskwarrior website.
The application allows users to record jobs that need to be done on a to-do list that can be easily manipulated as needed. You can personalize the look of the list by applying a theme of choice. The idea is that when you record jobs, you free your mind of the burden, so you can focus on the task at hand, hence increasing your productivity.
Path.To is a free online application for making professional online profiles. Users are asked to enter their name, title, location, and industry, or they can import their details from a Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn profile. The application was launched in August 2011 and is already popular with professionals from around the world who are looking to increase their visibility.
By adding your unique skill set, other users can help promote you by adding their endorsement. The more activity there is on your profile, the higher you will be placed on the leaderboard. This will distinguish you as a highly skilled professional. The analytical tools available on the website can help you to see who has been viewing your profile and which websites are linking to you. The look of the profile itself is fully customizable with many themes.
Path.to are preparing a new site version right now.
Delicious has been around since 2003 and has always been a popular online bookmarking service. But the application underwent a radical makeover after being sold to AVOS Systems, a new Internet company led by the founders of YouTube Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, and was consequently relaunched in September 2011 with a completely new interface and added functionality.
The main new feature called “stacks” allows you to organize the best content around a particular subject from across the web and store it all in one place in a visually interesting way. Stacks are basically like YouTube playlists. Only they are made up of weblinks pointing to articles, tutorials, or videos. Stacks can be published and shared, so other Delicious users can see them and subscribe to them. Similarly, browsing through stacks can help you find a collection of high quality links much faster. Freelancers can use Delicious stacks to network and share information with other professionals, building relationships that might prove fruitful in the future. Using Delicious is still free.
Not just another to-do list application, TwitDo integrates with Twitter, so you can make your lists on the go while using the Twitter application. There is no software to download. Just enter #todo followed by the note you want to make, and the item gets added to your list. You can retrieve the list from twitdo.com/yourusername. Similarly, #done will cross an item off your list, and #undo will delete an item.
TwitDo is a simple and easy to use organizational tool for noting down reminders or making a list of important tasks, and it is free! If as a freelancer you are already using Twitter, it is a quick way of getting more out of the existing service.
Sitesimon is a free web based recommendation site. The name is now pronounced site-simon; although it was originally conceived as sites-I’m-on. After having installed the Sitesimon add-on to a web browser, the application will privately monitor browsing habits and serve personalized high quality content.
The application protects you from information overload while looking for good quality up-to-date content on the Internet. Recommendations are tailored to your specific tastes, and the application can also aggregate content from all the social network sites that you subscribe to. Sitesimon could potentially be a one-stop shop for your all your online information needs. The social element of the site enables you to share your browsing history with other Sitesimon users.
All five applications described above adhere to the meaning of the term “life hack”, according to the entry in the Oxford Online Dictionary: a strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Thanks to the altruistic efforts of programmers these applications are available for free, so they won’t eat into the freelancer’s budget.
What is your favorite life hack? Let us know by placing a comment.