How Can I Be More Productive as a New Freelancer?

While there are a plethora of tips and tools for new freelance writers to hone their skills and build their portfolio, it can be easy to neglect the back-end duties that will be required of you when managing your own business.

The non-billable tasks can turn into a massive time suck if you’re not intentional and focused in this area.

How Can I Be More Productive as a New Freelancer?

The non-billable tasks can turn into a massive time suck if you’re not intentional and focused in this area.

Non-billable tasks can include planning and goal-setting, time management, expense tracking, and invoicing.

The following tips and tools may help you manage your non-billable hours more effectively, which in turn will make you a more productive freelance writer.

Analogue vs. Digital: Is There a Right Choice?

Do you remain stubborn and traditional with your trusty paper planner and notebook, or do you convert to fully digital with the rest of the world?

The answer may be neither. Blending both analogue and digital tools can be extremely effective, but you must use the tools that will make you most efficient in your work.

This is going to depend a lot on personal preference and let that be a reminder to the perfectionists reading this; there is no “right way” to keep yourself organized and on task.

Daily Organizational Tools


It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a planner that helps you structure your time daily, weekly, and monthly to achieve your goals, both in the long term and short term.

Whether those are personal or professional goals, whether digital or analogue, it matters not.

However, it should be mentioned that studies have found individuals who write down their goals and dreams on paper are 42% more likely to actually achieve them.

For this reason, an analogue planner is recommended, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be paired with a digital calendar.

If you are anything like me (a planner junkie) you may have already tried a few different styles of planners. Let’s leave the planner reviews to someone else and go straight to the Holy Grail of all analogue planners: The Full Focus Planner.

The Full Focus Planner incorporates a tailored format to help you set actionable goals, long term and short term.

It’s layout incorporates detailed Daily pages which help you determine the top 3 priority tasks that must be completed on that day. There is also a section after each week to review what went right, what needs adjusting, and looking forward to the next week as well.

While so much more can be said about this planner and the tools that come with it, simply put, it is geared for the high-achiever and designed to bring more focus to whatever you are setting out to accomplish.

As mentioned earlier, your planner can be paired with Google Calendar, for example, to keep you on track with your appointments and reminders.

If you rely heavily on a digital planner, consider finding a way to write your goals on paper and improve your chances of success!


Another tool that should be in a freelance writer’s arsenal is a way to organize your notes and thoughts.

While a traditional paper notebook still serves its purpose, you may want a little more customization and a higher level of organization.

While there are many different apps and software programs you could choose from for digital note taking, let’s focus on the best; OneNote and Evernote.

These two applications are very similar and offer the user a place to create multiple “notebooks” and subcategories to keep your thoughts and ideas organized.

This review comparing the two apps is extremely thorough and helps you weigh the features, price (for upgraded features), and functionality so you can decide which one is the best fit for your needs.

Time Tracking and Management

When working as a freelance writer you are your own boss. This means you are in charge of your time and how you use it.

At some point, you may find the need for a tool that allows you to track your time.

While tools like Asana and Trello are marketed and have many team-oriented tools, this doesn’t mean that the solopreneur wouldn’t find it useful.

With features like the new Portfolio project manager in Asana you can keep track of all ongoing projects you have from your clients and also keep an eye on those deadlines. Trello is free and has similar functionalities, but it may not be as customizable.

Another application that has time tracking is FreshBooks. While it does have a team-oriented function it is much more tailored to the solopreneur. It even allows you to submit your billable hours in an invoice to your clients.

This leads us into our final topic of productivity tools.

Expenses, Invoices, and Taxes, Oh My!

For those who have no accounting background and even those who may have shortcomings in tracking personal finances, this category can be sweat-inducing.

This is why having a digital system in place is paramount to staying organized and on top of your business finances (Bonus: you can use these tools for you personal finances as well!).


This is probably the most well-known app for expense tracking and invoicing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best.

First off, it does require a monthly fee to use it so you’ll need to factor in that cost. It does have two different package bundles for self-employed individuals, but you will have to decide what is best for you and your business needs.


This app has many of the same features that Quickbooks has to offer, but with Wave it is free. Wave offers expense tracking, invoicing, receipt organization (think taxes), and so much more.

Definitely review this option if you are just starting out as a new freelancer and need to be careful about upfront costs.


Remember how this was in the time tracking category? Well, FreshBooks is a powerhouse of organization and efficiency.

Having your time tracking, invoicing, project management, payments, expense tracking, and more all in one functional and aesthetically pleasing tool is impressive.

While it is a service that requires a monthly subscription, you have the opportunity to try it free for 30 days and no payment information is collected up front.

If you wish to streamline your efficiency and organizational tools in the long run, you should consider using FreshBooks.

As you review these tips and tools, keep in mind that you may not need to integrate them all at once, especially if you are just beginning your freelance writing journey.

Perhaps, you can select one tool to start applying in your daily non-billable tasks (ahem, planner!) and you can leave the others (expense tracking and invoicing) until you have need for them.

While these tips are not all-inclusive, they are some of the best that are available to you. Do yourself a favor and add some productivity-charged tools into your freelance arsenal so you can crush your goals!

Lindsey is a Professional Freelance Writer for hire. She specializes in copywriting, B2B content, and Blogging services. She uses her skills, expertise, and personal experience to add valuable content to her clients' businesses. When she's not wielding her wordsmith abilities, Lindsey enjoys reading fiction and movie marathons with her husband and dog, Goose.

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