10 Tools for Freelance Journalists and Writers

Friends, students and writers have asked me for tips about what productivity tools work for me. I’m a freelance journalist covering South America and these are my top 10 recommendations. Please share your favorite tools in the comments section.

1- OneNote

I know you can make it look better than this


No more lost notes or stickies, OneNote is a program I use on my smartphone and where I type whatever crosses my mind during the day (you can also add photos and drawings). It syncs to my Outlook account automatically and I can just access it on my laptop. I’m a Mac person but this has worked for me better than any other note taking programs.

2- Scrivener

Dan always sighs


More love letters have been written to Scrivener than any other online program. To know it, is to love it. Here is a beautiful poem about the best organization tool for journalists and writers. I could not recommend this enough, I rely on it to organize most of my projects.

3- Tomatoid


Tomatoid is one of the websites where you can follow the Pomodoro productivity method. This is one of my favorite websites. You set up a timer and work during one Pomodoro (25 minutes or whatever time you select) and then have a break (5 minutes or how long you choose) and after working for four Pomodoros you get to have a longer break (25 minutes or how long you choose to). You can line up a beautiful To-do list on Tomatoid and the website will move from one task to the other. It’s my favorite timer.

4- Noisili

Pick what sound you need to help you focus. I love coffee noise mixed with beach and fire.


Wouldn’t it just be great to work at the beach? (if you live in Rio de Janeiro like I do you can). Or maybe you can be by a river side? Near a forest? In the woods? Birds chirping? Oh, please don’t chirp that loud. Wind noise? Train tracks? Leaves falling? Who needs silence?

5- Spotify

The obvious one


My playlists depend on what I’m working on. When I really have to focus, I find Dinah Washington and Lionel Hampton to be my best companions. I also love to associate a playlist with the kind of work I’m doing. There are all kinds of playlists and you can also create your own.

6- Excel on Google Drive or Numbers for Mac

I’m getting better at spreadsheets, I prefer Numbers to Excel though

To organize assignments, contacts, notes, outlets and ideas. This is one of the first documents I take a look at in the morning. I also made my own color code so I can see straight away what needs to be done everyday, do I need to follow up on a pitch, fill in an invoice, send out a new pitch? It is very important that you track your pitches, projects, payments.

7- Google Docs and Dropbox Paper

Yes, I’m getting ready for a Website Relaunch and my friends are extremely interested in it


A great and easy way not only to write, archive and share all your work, but also to backup your documents.

8- Google Calendar

I do not have a dog named Ella


Even if it’s just make believe sometimes, as freelance assignments can be last minute assignments, I like to plan my days as it feels like I’m in control of my time. I receive some notifications on Google Calendar but I don’t over do it, as I also keep a paper diary where I take notes of all my appointments.

9- Weebly

I do not know that friend


Make your own website. Weebly is an easy to learn platform where you can host and showcase some of your work. It is very easy to update it with your latest work.

Here is my website: www.sofiaperpetua.com. What’s your website?

10- Forest App

No idea what happens when there is no more space for my trees


It may sound silly but this is an app where you can grow a forest with your own work just by sitting at your desk. You set it up by selecting how many minutes you want to work and how long your breaks should be. Let’s say 25 minutes, 5 minute breaks. If somehow during that period of time you check Facebook or email, you’ll kill a beautiful tree growing on your screen. And you don’t want to kill trees right? If you stick to your work plan, you’ll be able to see your forest grow as you add more and more trees everyday. Yes, I know, gimmick, game, it works for me though, give it a try. The birds won’t come if you don’t grow those trees.


Before you go back to work, please let me know if these tools worked for you and please share your favorite ones in the comments section.

Yes, it’s true, I only wrote this so I can try out Medium’s new applaud system, so clap clap clap.

Ok, now follow me on Twitter @sofiaperpetua

Journalist | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | www.sofiaperpetua.com