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Five essential apps for freelancers and self-employed people

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
Designers reviewing and discussing plans in office

More people are ditching the nine-to-five to work for themselves, with almost 5 million self-employed people in the UK, according to the latest labour market statistics.

Yet while self-employment offers a number of benefits that a desk job might not – like avoiding the morning commute – it’s not always smooth sailing. You get the freedom and flexibility to set your own hours and decide your own workload, but it can be a challenge to keep on top of irregular payments and invoices, as well as multiple deadlines and clients.

Thankfully, though, there are some handy apps to help you organise your work, finances and more.

FreeAgent

If you’re planning to go freelance or if you just need a little more help organising your finances, FreeAgent is an excellent accounting app. You can find out what your clients owe you, what you owe your supplies and what your expense balance looks like, as well as create expenses on the go and store your receipts. You can create and send invoices while on the go and check your bank balance and statements. FreeAgent also allows you to set reminder notes so you don’t forget deadlines.

It’s available for free for 30 days and then prices start from £9.50 a month plus VAT (although the price goes up after six months). It’s available for iPhone and Android.

Toggl

Time-management is always important, but it’s even more crucial when you’re self-employed. Whether it’s knowing how long a project takes or how much time you need to update a spreadsheet, Toggl is a helpful app.

It’s a time tracker that logs the time it takes you to complete certain tasks, so you can always stay on top of your workload. Toggl then produces detailed but easy-to-read weekly reports that can be viewed from the dashboard, exported to a spreadsheet or sent to your email account. The app also allows you to break down your hours by projects, clients and tasks to see what’s making you money. You can also set up alerts so the app tells you when you’ve spent too long doing something. Prices start from £7 a month.

GoSimpleTax

Doing your annual tax return is every freelancer’s nightmare – especially if you aren’t the most organised when it comes to storing invoices. Although there is plenty of general advice about filling in your tax return, it can still be confusing. The GoSimpleTax app is available on iOS or Android and can save you hours of valuable time and prevent the stress of doing your taxes.

The app takes your specific account information and processes it according to the rules that apply to you. Once completed, it then sends this data directly to HMRC. It also calculates whether you should be paying less tax. You can try the software for free for 14 days, so you can test to see if it’s right for you. Pricing starts from £30 per tax year.

Focus booster

Everyone struggles with productivity, but it’s especially difficult to stay focused when you’re working from home – either surrounded by family, pets or even just the TV. Keeping on top of your workload and deadlines is essential, however, as falling behind can potentially cause you to lose business. The Focus Booster app helps you by splitting your time in 25-minute sections, with five minute breaks in between – known as the pomodoro technique.

It also gives you insight into how you are using your time - the sessions are automatically recorded so you can review how productive you have been. You can use focus booster on any computer, on the web or on iOS and Android. The most basic version is free.

Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app that allows you to keep track of everything you’re working on, from big projects and to-do lists, to meeting notes and more. If you’re someone who is constantly juggling multiple projects or pieces of work, this app will be invaluable in making sure nothing falls through the cracks.

The app allows you to plan, keep records and manage projects from any device – even offline. The basic version is free, but more advanced plans start from £4.99 a month. There’s also a version specifically for teams to use. You can download Evernote for Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android.