How to setup Freelancer digital office

Here I’m going to share my tools recommendation after more then 1 year as freelancer, for free or best in class, tools and applications.

Intro

Well, most of my life I spent as IT staff working for all kind companies even big one like IBM or DHL. Currently, as freelancer for DXC Technology, doing whatever is needed but most of PM and Enterprise architecture and software development, I also started to make professional coaching/trainings for non-pure IT companies (banks, insurance) on themes like how to survive in agile oriented SW World or what technologies to use for building SW in 2018.

As I had to split my FTE to more clients, I had to find right tools for my digital office. Here is what I suggest covering following areas:

  1. Computer and OS tools
  2. Digital office storage
  3. Digital office CRM
  4. Day to day task and PM management
  5. Time tracking software
  6. Development editor

So, let read through and perhaps you'll also find something useful for you too.

The real stuff

It's always difficult to choose,

1. Computer and OS tools

After many years on Windows and Linux I moved in 2014 on OSX MacBook Pro (in my case mid-2014 13" Retina 1TB SSD) — you see, it’s 2018 and the machine is still working as a new one every day, many days 24x7 due to night builds. Side effects?

  • no viruses
  • no malware
  • never ever system failure (blue screen)
  • totally safe data storage
  • amazing CPU performance
  • new macOS = always improved performance
  • free office applications

Due to macOS operating system and clients using various OS, I had to go for VM tool. After trying all free big-VM vendors tools I ended up fot one of best ever SW I know — Paralles. Not free, but worth of it, currently managing 3x Win10, 1x Win7, 1x Debian Linux, 1x Ubuntu Linux — all available on single click.

2. Digital office storage

Dropbox — personal one (free) is really enough for my needs and it’s free.

3. Digital office CRM

Drobox Paper — free, perfectly integrated while CRM is created pretty easily (attaching a great video how to) and it’s free.

Of course, I need to mention office application like Word, Excel, etc. Well, having Pages, Numbers etc. provided by Apple with a great functionality I don't deserve to have extra MS Office on my laptop. Off course, not a problem to install it — even I suggest to use MS Office in Windows 10 in virtual machine or Office365.com.

I live in the Czech Republic (EU) and invoicing is so different than US one I contracted an accountant to handle legal and invoicing stuff for me.

Email and calendar

On the side of Email and Calendar I typically stay with macOS apps but last 4 months I’m using Spark, an amazing free email & calendar app.

4. Day to day task and PM management

There are plenty of them but most of my cliens are using JIRA and Asana so I went for Asana free edition.

As PM I need some time to use Gantt chart even I prefer Kanban cards or own methods. There is a great tool that draws tasks recorded in Asana — called Instagantt and it’s free.

5. Time tracking software

There are many of great apps like Toggl and Harvest. But at the end, I work mostly alone; and I don’t want to pay extra. So finally I stay with free Clockify — my suggestion is to open Toggl and Clocify side to side and you’ll notice not just almost identical UX.

6. Development editor

As ex-assembler and C++ developer I always needed a great tool for writing code. I do really like Xcode – but such memory beast – so using it only when writing in Swift iOS apps.

There is also VSCode and Atom — both great and free. But I’m happy to pay here and the winner is SublimeText.

Even pretty expensive, but as developer I do appreciate the quality, speed and variability (and not being alone). Check the attached survery from 2016. In actual numbers it's still on top.

Sumarry

I focused on most valuable and free tools to run a small freelancer office. It’s always a user preference at the end and I don’t push you to go my way.

I'm sharing just my own preferences. I typically tested different options, kept for a while and then decided. I hope that my selection will help you to make your life easier and if you like my work feel free to clap and share.