I know I’ve mentioned briefly a few of the programs that I use for project management, but I thought I’d go over my whole process with you guys. When freelancing, it’s important that you keep your ducks in a row and there are so many programs out there that aim to help you. Utilize them! I’ll be honest, I’m a design snob. I’ve had the hardest time finding an all inclusive program to use simply because I’m picky when it comes to user interface design and what I’m comfortable using not only for myself, but with my clients as well. With that said, I have yet to find a program that does everything I need to in one, so I’ve resorted to using several different methods. Although it works just fine for me, it is a little more to manage. Here’s the process :

CLIENT INTERACTION To communicate with inquiries, readers, and clients, I heavily utilize gmail and google drive on a daily basis. Because they’re linked, it’s very streamlined to switch off between the two and work consistently. I’ve developed organized folders + colorful labels within gmail to sort through the different types of emails I receive everyday. As soon as I receive an email, it’s either sorted into a folder or labeled in my inbox ( possible clients, clients, blog, personal, etc. ) so I know when I need to respond to things. Further, I utilize google drive when I take on a new client. Each one gets their own document so I can record names, dates, deadlines, contact information, and so much more. Like I said before, having these two applications connected by one google account makes my client management process so easy.

TO DO & TIMELINES I know I’ve heavily praised teux deux before, which is 100% related to the fact that I’m a design snob. It’s such a beautiful program. I’ve been pretty successful in only needing this as my daily to-do list. I record anything and everything I need to do on a given day and schedule ahead when need be. The thing I love about this program, besides how pretty it is, is the focus on one week at a time. I’m the type of person who can easily get stressed by seeing an overview of all that I have to do. If I’m able to stick to one week at a time, things feel a lot more manageable. However, I have found a flaw with my beloved to do list. Recently, I’ve been wanting to share to do lists and deadlines with clients in an easy way, which is something that you cannot do with teux deux. So, google calendar has been on my radar for awhile now. I’ve been testing it out with a few clients and so far so good! I really enjoy that you can link the calendar between your phone / desktop / and google account. Another one I’ve used in the past is wunderlist, which is also something to check out.

FINANCES A little over a year ago, I downloaded iWork’s numbers program, which literally changed my life. Prior to then, I had been pulling my hair trying to find a program that recorded finances in the way that I work. The nice thing about Numbers is that I was able to create my own chart that follows my own process to a tee. Each client has their own super long row that takes every detail into account. I record when they inquire about services, sign the contract, how much their downpayment is, when they pay their downpayment, how much their project is, when the project is finished, how much money has been paid, and a final tally box when the project is completed. Phew … there’s even more than that, but you get the idea. Using nerdy calculations, I know how much money I’ve received for the year, in total, at any given time. I love you numbers.

So those are the programs that make my freelance world go round and round every single day. Without them, I’d be a crazy mess! Like I said before, I still have my eye out for the perfect program, hoping that someday it will exist. Maybe I’ll just have to create it?? One great inclusive program to consider is Basecamp. The only reason I haven’t jumped on board yet is because I’m not the biggest fan of their interface. I know, I’m annoying. They do, however, do a great job of managing projects and clients all at the same time.

  1. Anni says:

    I’m going to go check out Numbers right away… I actually have it on my computer already, but never thought to utilize it. I’m a mess when it comes to my business organization (right now I’m just using calendar and relying on emails for everything else) and I love the idea of streamlining everything.

  2. anto says:

    The graphic for this post is so cute. And, you know what? I totally think you should create the perfect program yourself. I know I’d use it.
    I really like gmail’s interface for keeping track of conversations about a specific project all in one place. At first, I started using google drive without even realizing. It keeps all my files organized.

    • bre says:

      Aww, thank you so much about the little graphic. :) Totally want to make a program. Someday, maybe, since my brother is going into computer programming. We shall see what happens! xx.

  3. L. says:

    I am a huge fan of Google Drive + Calc, as well as the lovely Teux Deux app. Although I loathe the interface for Basecamp, I too use it for all my clients & I have to say it’s such a lifesaver — especially if you’re detailing w. more than one person from a company.


  4. Breanna! i just want to say how much i love this blog, and how much you inspire me in my every day basis. I have leaned so much with everything you and everyone writes! thank you an keep going!

  5. Jensen says:

    I’m just starting to dabble in the freelance world and so have been experimenting with different ways of staying organized as I go. It’s always so nice to see other people’s processes and what works for them. Thank you!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Great post and topic! I’ve recently been doing a lot in the area of time & project management, too. Have you looked at Podio? The interface is a little more modern and it is Extremely versatile. I use it for CRM and project management. Oh– and it’s free, too!

  7. Vanessa says:

    Great resources Bre. I’m gonna def have to check out iWork. I desperately need a program like that haha

  8. Sarah Grant says:

    Great post. I’m always curious what other management tools designers use. What do you use for invoicing? Or do you just manually create invoices and keep track of them in iWorks? I’ve been manually creating them and I’m tired of it, but I can’t quite find the right program. I’ve played with Billings and Pancake App.

  9. Noor says:

    I tried pro workflow and it made me feel more stressed out then before just SO much to add and so with it so I will check these out and see if it helps any, thank you.

  10. Jenn Staz says:

    I highly recommend checking out Evernote. It’s something you can access from anywhere (Mac desktop, iPhone, iPad, web) and the interface is great. It’s super customizable, too, with notebooks and tags, etc, and you can include media. It can be a little overwhelming at first because it’s so flexible, so if you think you’re interested, I would watch intro videos first. Oh yeah, and it’s free! :)

  11. OMG you’re a LIFE SAVER!!

    You don’t understand how bad I am at keeping track of my finances. I’ve been trying to find the perfect program to help me for aaaaages. :(

    I’ve just been checking out iWork Numbers on the app store and it looks like it could be the solution. I’ll probably have another look on the around before I purchase it but it looks like it could be the one! :)


  12. i need to check out teux deux, it sounds good!

  13. Shauna Nep says:

    Love this so much! I’m a big fan of Teux Deux, but for group projects I enjoy using do.com. It has a pretty interface, I think you’d approve!
    Happy thanksgiving!

  14. Marine says:

    Thank you for sharing all your tips!
    I just start freelancing and this is a great help!

  15. Hey! Thanks for the tips! I am considering using Basecamp myself, but I’m being a little snotty, too! Have you seen http://www.thrivesolo.com ?? I’m thinking about doing their trial. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

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