Keeping Projects on Track

Tracking projects with multiple deadlines is important, and particular tasks — invoicing clients, monitoring deposits and payments, and assembling everything for tax time — can be especially challenging. I find it's critical for both me and my clients to keep thorough, detailed records in an easy-to-use, accessible format.

That information includes notes about the project from our initial consultations and subsequent conversations, contact information (address, email, phone), contracts, outstanding project questions and issues, deadlines, background materials, and payment dates (balances due and received). It's not rocket science, but it's critical to staying on top of things.

Having accurate and up-to-date systems provides me with a way to make sure I am managing projects efficiently, maintaining a diverse roster,  and being paid on time. When I am able to get a bird’s eye view of my projects, it helps me decide which mix of assignments will be interesting and also pay the bills.

Several good options exist for freelancers, including:

• Toggl
• Timely
• Rescue Time
• Focus Booster
• Asana
• Trello
• Droptask
• Meister Task
• CoSchedule
• Invoice Genius
• Freshbooks
• FreeAgent

Among other Web sites, also is valuable for finding resources and tools (and it provides reviews of some of these programs).

My personal favorite tracking and invoicing tool to date is Harvest. It lets me keep a running list of clients, detailed invoices, and monthly/annual totals. It provides invoices for one-time and recurring clients (as well as retainers), weekly time sheets, start-and-stop daily timers, and it integrates with other tools including Quickbooks and Basecamp, among others. I can track expenses by taking a photo of receipts, and the fee for one person with unlimited projects is $12/month. Visually, I find it clean and appealing, and that makes it particularly easy to use.

What do you use?