Giveaway: Freshbooks Subscriptions

FreshBooks was kind enough to provide a one-year Shuttle Bus subscription worth $168 in this giveaway.

All you have to do to for a chance to win is leave a comment about one of the following topics:

  1. Share a humorous anecdote about working with clients.
  2. Share a time-management or time-tracking tip.
  3. Name one invaluable tool that you use daily to get your work done more efficiently.

This giveaway ends on November 3, 2008 after which the comments section on this post will be closed. We’ll use your email address to contact you if you win. The winners will be randomly selected and announced on a separate post. Please note that comments that don’t follow the instructions on how to participate (described above) may not be published.

This was published on Oct 27, 2008


Here’s a fairly funny anecdote about working w/ a recent client of mine: Ok, so this guy who’s a client of mine never likes to sound like he doesn’t know what he’s talking about – he’s so insecure about it. The other day he calls me and said the funniest thing. In trying to keep up with all the “cool” lingo of the web these days, he actually used a word that is meant entirely to be a joke. He says, “…yeah, so I’d really like to see more search engine penetration for our company on the interwebs.” INTERWEBS??? I almost fell out of my chair laughing. He was totally serious and thought he was using some “official” terms of the web. Oh man, I thought that was really funny…interwebs…haha!!

MikeWhoBikes Oct 27 2008

Buy an egg timer from the dollar store. Set it to 20-30 minutes and focus on work until it goes off. This encourages you to take frequent breaks and the constant tick-tick-tick serves as a reminder that yes, it’s work time.

Benjamin M. Strozykowski Oct 27 2008

I’ve had a lot of issues with keeping track of the time that I spend working for clients as a freelancer. Most of the time, I end up just estimating the amount of time I’ve worked, and probably get shortchanged constantly.

I’ve used gtimer in the past, and while this was nice, it didn’t have the portability that I needed, since I work on multiple different machines.

Lately I’ve been using to keep track of all of my clocking needs. That in combination with Alarm Clock 2 for OS X to keep track of breaks and such. These two free tools are invaluable time savers for freelancers.

Oscar Oct 27 2008

Working with clients is an adveture, everday there is a new anecdote but the best way to get your work done more efficiently in my point of view is applying a GTD process. ;)

nibbo Oct 27 2008

The most invaluable things i use in my design process are the too often forgotten paper, pencil and a pair of scissors. It’s really nice to be able to get rid of a bad design by tearing it apart instead of just deleting the file ;)

Paulo Oct 27 2008

A tool I use everyday:

Josh Crowder Oct 27 2008

OmniPlan its amazing, allows complete time management on a single app. An online version would be all the more better to be honest though.

Cole Christensen Oct 27 2008

The To-Dos iPhone application is my life saver.

Steve Oct 27 2008

The most invaluable tool I have is a simple stack of memo pads and a pen. I make a list every day of what I need to do the next day. While I don’t always complete the list it keeps me focused and making progress.

Danny Tatom Oct 27 2008

I’ve been wantin’ to try this out!

Max Nachamkin Oct 27 2008

A time tracking tip: Always carry around an index card to log your clients hours even if you aren’t at your own computer! So many people use web-based time tracking but I think it’s important to carry around that index card for those day-to-day meetings with your client and when you don’t have your computer handy.

Jones Oct 27 2008

One invaluable tool I use is coffee shops. As distracting as it may sound, I get more creative inspiration from a little background noise, random people and a good cup of coffee at a local coffee shop. When I’m at home freelancing I tend to get ‘too comfortable’ and find myself starting a load of laundry, picking up the kitchen or other distracting house duties. Also it’s a place to hide out from family or friends just “stopping by”.

Mattias Gunneras Oct 27 2008

My invaluable tool is so simple: pad and a pencil. The last thing I do In the afternoon is to scribble down what I need to do the next day, and the first thing I do In the morning is to review that list and turn it into a task list for the day. I love the simplicity of this process and it’s such a quick thing to do.

Grant Palin Oct 27 2008

A simple time tracking technique I use for one of my projects. I set up a grid in Excel for each month of a year. Enter time worked on the project each day on the grid. Add a column at the side of the grid to get weekly totals. A cell at the bottom of that column totals the hours for the month. Another cell to input the hourly rate, and Excel automatically calculates the amount I get to invoice the client for that month.

Megan Coleman Oct 27 2008

I use OmniOutliner every day to track my todo list. It’s easy, simple and lightweight.

I use an Adobe Air App called Klok

Deborah Oct 27 2008

I use Evernote daily for note taking, capturing website screenshots, and to make to do lists.

MLB Web Design Oct 28 2008

I use a great organizational tool called Tasks ( It has tons of great features, but my favorites have to be that it’s cheap, really easy to use and you can install it on your own server.

I also print a weekly calendar every Monday morning to get an overview of my meetings, deadlines, etc. I also use every Monday to contact leads and check in with existing projects to keep my momentum going.

Fridays are invoice days at MLB Web Design. I try not to schedule any meetings on Fridays because I know I won’t get my invoices done. No invoices… no money. No money… well, you get the idea.

Another tip for you non-morning-persons out there. I don’t schedule any meetings with clients before lunch. I know that my mind will not be running at 100% before lunch and I think it’s unfair for my clients to pay for my time if I’m not fully awake. If they ask for a morning meeting, I just tell them I have a conflict. I have quickly learned to know my strengths and weaknesses and to play to my strengths, which early mornings are not.

Finally, I just started using Freshbooks about 2 months ago and love it! I have already recommended it to several clients and other designers. I love the recurring invoices. I use them for all my web hosting customers, and they can all pay through Paypal, which gets me paid faster. FreshBooks rules!

Molly Oct 28 2008

There’s nothing like good old fashioned pencil and paper–both for brainstorming and keeping track of to-dos.

Justin Oct 28 2008

One invaluable tool I have just started using is Jobs for the iPhone. I am a computer consultant and was constantly struggling to find something that would satisfy my needs for tracking my jobs since I am always visiting clients onsite.

I tried a paper planner but I’d either leave it a home, in my car, or just forget to write things down, not to mention that the space allowed for notes was insignificant (I like to have detailed notes). I tried using Job Tracking software, but none of them worked exactly how I thought they should and it also meant that I had to open my laptop even on jobs that did not require me to use my laptop (not that big of a deal, but slightly irritating). I then created a simple spreadsheet with my needs and that was working better for a while, but it still relied on me making notes on my laptop even when I didn’t need to use my laptop otherwise.

So, I found Jobs for the iPhone and it is the best thing for me. I always have my phone with me so that is not a problem. I can take my phone out and start tracking a job while I am walking in the client’s door without (just press the start button). When I get done with a job I can stop the job and input my notes in the car without having to be cramped for space (working on my laptop in the car is not ideal). When I get ready to bill clients I can export either all jobs for the timeframe or all jobs for a specific client. It has saved my sanity!

Jacob Gube Oct 28 2008

Hi everyone,

Thank you for all the great responses! I’ve read all of them and I’ve picked up some advice that I’ll be trying out soon.

My tip for time-tracking (I’m not participating in the contest, just sharing) is the old paper and pen trick. I’ve tried using my iPhone and web applications like “Remember the Milk”, and desktop applications like Klok, but I find that a nice notebook does the job quite well. I’ve recently started using the FreshBooks Time Tracking feature, and I’m liking it so far. It’s a great way to streamline the way I track my time on project-based work.

I prefer google apps personally. It is all around a great tool. Calendar, sites, docs, and the search is fast.

Yuriy Oct 28 2008

Invaluable tool: Google apps!

I regularly use this to share documents and revisions with clients, and it works wonders!

I love freshbooks! I just started the trial and sent out my first invoice last week. Please pick me! I need it! One tool that I use every day is it is the best for inspiration or even finding up and coming photographers to work with!

Wow, I really love the suggestion by “MikeWhoBikes” I really need to try that! Nice one man!

i use Toggl ( every day to keep track of projects i’m working on for later entry into my time reporting tool. It also offers some collaboration and more advanced time-keeping features that I’ve not used before. The software is free and they have an Adobe AIR app that i can run locally, along side the web interface.

PaperQueen Oct 30 2008

I can’t live without MacJournal, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intended for the manner in which I use it. While FileMaker Pro is great for database info, my client notes often stretch far beyond what would work easily there. Instead, those go into MacJournal, where each client has their own folder, allowing endless notes and additions.

Bought it for my blog…turned it into a virtual file cabinet. It’s a Godsend.

Kudos on mentioning FreshBooks. That’s another one I can’t live without.

Joe Payton Oct 31 2008

jquery has completely improved my efficiency.

janogarcia Oct 31 2008

These are the tools and knowledge that have really helped me out to improve my productivity:


Getting things done (David Allen)
Zen to done (Leo Babauta)


Google Calendar
Google Docs

Joseph H Oct 31 2008

Tools I find helpful to my daily routine are:
Google homepage with:
news feeder
events manager

Rob Barrett Nov 01 2008

I’m currently using Gmail for my email (I’m more productive with all my emails directing to the same place); FreshBooks for billing; and playing around with both Basecamp and Project Pier for project management — they’re both very similar, but the To-Do list integration works well with the way I work.

I don’t have to discipline to keep proper To-Do lists on paper — I just end up with scrawled notes on various scraps of paper, when invariably get lost!

Ng Wai Mun Nov 03 2008

I hope I still make it… I use Backpack daily to help me organize my tasks, etc.

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