Work From Home? There’s an App for That!
The Silicon Valley is such a dynamic and connected place that it’s easy to take what we have for granted sometimes. I’ve been working in this area since the late 1990s, and I was faced with a relatively significant setback early last year that fundamentally changed the way I was able to work in a typical office environment. I managed to roll with the punches and architect my workplace atmosphere. To put it bluntly, I became a freelancer.
I went from being in the workplace for the past fifteen years to doing a complete 180 and starting my own business. I had to set my schedule, send my invoices, and meet all the deadlines or accept not getting paid. Suddenly, I had a whole lot more on my plate! I also found a new love and appreciation for my iPhone. Not just for fielding calls from new and existing clients, but also just for doing my work.
There’s a misunderstanding between individuals who are self-employed and those who aren’t; it’s the belief that we who freelance have a lot of extra time. We have the opposite of that. So, between shuttling the kids around, running errands, and getting groceries, I depend on my iPhone to send invoices, track my time, send emails, and write. I can’t emphasize enough how many deadlines I’ve met because of the wondrous iPhone. There’s a take-away from all this: if you work from home, there’s an App for that!
Here’s my shortlist of the Apps I use on a daily basis. If you’re a freelancer of any type, I think you’ll find most of these almost indispensable:
You can download MS Word for your iPad and iPhone both, and when you’re done writing your draft you can email yourself the .doc for editing on your desktop. You can also share it on whatever cloud server you choose or email it directly to someone else. This has been my most used App, hands down. I’ve written while waiting to pick the kids up at school, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, anywhere I’ve been stuck for any amount of time. Hey, when inspiration hits, you have to be ready!
Take a picture of a business card when its given to you, and the contact information is extracted with OCR technology and human-verified for accuracy. It has an additional bonus of letting you auto-share your contact information with your new business associates. I use this more than I thought I would because I lose business cards left and right.
This App is meant for creating expense reports for your workplace, but I use it to keep track of all my business expenses and mileage for the IRS. You take a photo of your receipt, and it creates a digital, IRS approved one that gets printed out on the report. I create expense reports monthly, and they’re emailed to me as a PDF. When tax time comes around, I’ll have a clean stack of reports with all the receipts and descriptions already done. Voila! It’s the closest thing I have to a magic want when it comes to tracking my expenditures!
Much like Expensify, this handy App creates invoices and time sheets on your phone and even lets you track hours worked, and payments received. This beats the heck out of all those old-school Excel sheets I used to fuss with!
I wouldn’t want to go back to working in an office, even if I could; and with these few Apps, I won’t have to. There is a downside to all this connectedness; you’re never off the clock! It looks like my new assignment is going to be learning to turn the phone off once in awhile.1