Freelancers, these free tools can literally save your life

freelancer working on laptop

Overwork, the fact of literally killing one’s self over work is a challenge workaholic freelancers face. For the busy and (over)booked, this is often the case. Because we work from home, at our own place and pace, work is constantly in our face.

Whereas this means steady income, it can also mean stress, exhaustion, burnout, and can even result in death due to atrial fibrillation, stroke or heart attack. In Japanese, this is known as Karōshi or “overwork death”, similar to extermination through labor.

Not only will our health suffer if we constantly overwork, the quality of our work/output will also decline. For the perfectionist, this is added stress.

But this need not be so.

With careful planning, helpful tools, and occupational adjustments, we can reduce overwork, improve productivity and earn enough to enjoy the laptop lifestyle.

In this post, I’ll highlight proven steps and tools to help increase freelancer productivity and proficiency this year. Incorporating these into your daily work routine can result in an uplift in your work output.

Following are some free tools to increase freelancer productivity and reduce stress:

1. Alarm Clock Apps (Best Alarm Clock Apps for Android and iOS)

Time management is one of the several challenges many freelancers face. Done right, this can double productivity in half the time using tools like Clockify to track time, hourly rates and calculate earnings, as well as other essential Google Chrome extensions. However, because our schedules are flexible, most freelancers put off work until the deadlines approach, which can lead to stress.

One of the best ways to checkmate procrastination is by using time management prompts in the form of alarm clock apps. These remind us that time is running and help us keep pace. They can also remind us to pause or take breaks, including allowing us to log sleep hours.

Some Popular Alarm Clock Apps for Freelancers include:

  • Timely (Android, free)
  • Alarmy (Android, free; iOS, $1.99)
  • AMDroid (Android, free)
  • AlarmMon (Android; iOS, free)
  • FreakyAlarm (iOS, $1.99)
  • Early Bird Alarm Clock (Android, free)
  • Sleep Cycle (Android; iOS, free)
  • Sleep As Android (Android, $6)
  • Chronus: Home and Lock Widgets (Android, free)
  • Snap Me Up (Android, free)
  • Kiwake (iOS, $7.99)

Some Key Things to Consider When Setting Your Alarm

  • Bedtime
  • Wake-up time
  • Prayer/meditation time
  • Workout time
  • Bathtime
  • Grooming time
  • Breakfast (preparation, consumption)
  • Work time
  • Break time
  • Socialization time, etc

This list can vary depending on your status, whether you’re single, married, parents, living alone, sharing a room, etc.

2. To-Do Lists

To-do-lists are essential to freelance success because they help to organize your day. Whether on paper or digital/electronic, these lists let you know if you’re making progress or not. Deadlines drive most freelancers and drive others crazy. With to-do lists, you can conveniently meet and beat them.

This is achieved by breaking your work down into milestones or doable bits, so you can execute them one at a time. Ticking off items on your list makes you feel productive, accomplished, and increases your desire to finish the next task at hand. Science also sheds light on why our brains love ordered tasks. By adding a little more detail, we can transform our lists into tasks, increasing their chances of getting done.

Some Popular To-Do List Apps for Freelancers include:

  • Wunderlist (free. Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Kindle Fire, Web)
  • Microsoft To-Do (free. Android; iOS)
  • Todoist (free and premium. Android; iOS, $29/yr)
  • (free and premium. Android; $3.5/mo, iOS; $5/mo)
  • Habitica (Android; iOS, free)
  • Evernote (free and premium. Android; iOS, $8/mo for Premium)
  • Google Tasks (Android; iOS, free)
  • Bear (free and premium. iOS, $15/yr)
  • Ike (free and premium. Android, $2 one-off)

Some Key Things to Include in Your To-Do Lists

  • Clean workspace
  • Research
  • Marketing
  • Client calls/Follow-ups
  • Client meetings
  • Delegate tasks to other freelancers
  • Submit reports
  • Send invoices
  • Pay suppliers
  • Work

Some to-do list apps like Habitica are so cool, they allow you gamify your lists, so you can have fun while “it’s” getting done. This way you don’t have to choose between work and play.

3. Social Media Blocker Apps

Reports say there are now over 3.5 billion social media users and counting, with 2.4 billion using Facebook monthly. YouTube and Instagram both have users in excess of 1 billion each, among other popular social networks.

Not only is social media big, it has also become a growing source of concern. From suicide to self-harm, long screen time to multitasking, experts warn about the many dangers of social media overuse. For freelancers, social media can be a huge distraction and a time suck if overused, which can greatly impact your productivity and profits/income.

Some Popular Social Media Blocker Apps for Freelancers include:

  • Flipd (Android; iOS, free)
  • Antisocial (Android; iOS, free)
  • App Detox (Android; iOS, free)
  • Offtime (Android free; iOS $2.99)
  • Freedom (Android; iOS, free, $2.42/mo billed annually)
  • Moment (Android, iOS, free)
  • Space (Android; iOS, free and premium at $2.99)
  • AppBlock (Android, free)
  • Self Control (Mac OS)
  • AppLock (Android, free)

If you’re a freelance writer, tools like WriteRoom for Mac can help create the ideal writing environment on your PC for clutter-free writing.

Other Time Wasters to Watch Out For

There are also other activities that can hamper a freelancer’s productivity. These include aimless browsing / surfing, especially in areas with free wi-fi: binging on TV, Netflix, and Youtube.


Using tools such as those highlighted above, freelancers are able to plan, execute and manage their work in a timely manner to avoid burnout, deliver within deadlines, and grow their businesses.
About the author

Amos Onwukwe is an AWAI trained Business and Ecommerce Copywriter who also covers Tech and Social Media. When not writing, he’s thinking of writing or making music. He’s been featured in Huffington Post, Dumb Little Man, Ecommerce Nation, eCommerce Insights, Understanding Ecommerce, Result First, Floship, GrowMap, Self Growth, among others.

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