9 Apps to Help Creators Manage Their Time and Budget

When I was a freelance writer, I’d often find myself rolling out of bed at noon, working in my PJs and treating myself to expensive lunches. Without the structure of a 9-5 job, I found it difficult to set the proper time and budget constraints that would maximize my creative output and save me money.

As a professional creator, you may find yourself in a similar position. Being your own boss is tough and without the external accountability that a full-time job offers, it can be difficult to create a framework for getting stuff done in the most financially responsible ways possible.

The following apps have helped me in setting realistic time and budget constraints; I hope that they can provide you with the structure you need to be your own bad-ass boss.


Schedule your life with Asana

Honestly, I don’t know how I survived before Asana. Previously, my entire life felt as if it was splattered across an abstract canvas of responsibilities. Now that I have my work clearly laid out in a comprehensive to-do list, I can relax knowing that I’m focusing on my most important work.

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Gif from Asana’s Getting Started Guide

With Asana, you can construct your work into a series of projects. Projects are then broken up into tasks and subtasks, all with their own due dates. You can then assign tasks to yourself or delegate them to others. Without even realizing it, you’ll become a seasoned project manager, capable of setting realistic expectations with all of your work.



Clean up your inbox with Unroll.me

Many have tried but few of us have actually reached it. The magical email peak known as inbox zero can seem like an unattainable fantasy to those of us with inboxes that flood faster than the desert during Monsoon season. With a nifty app called Unroll.me, there is a light at the end of the inbox tunnel.

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With Unroll.me, you can easily view and unsubscribe from all of the email newsletters that are drowning your inbox. So instead of clicking “unsubscribe” in every individual email and being redirected to a page that pleas for your continued readership, you can simply have your subscriptions “rolled up” into one easy-to-read place or removed from your inbox entirely.


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Get your finances in order with Mint

Managing your finances as a creator can be tough. Not only do you have to track your income and expenses, you have to make sure that you are saving enough money so you’re not faced with an unmanageable amount of taxes to pay when Uncle Sam comes knocking.

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I’ve been using Mint for several years now and would probably be in a mountain of debt without it. With Mint, you can connect all of your credit cards/banking accounts to the site and track exactly where your money is going. By setting up budget alerts for any aspect of your finances, you’ll ensure that you aren’t spending too much on those expendable purchases, like shopping and going out to dinner. You’ll also receive a nifty credit report that tells you exactly what you can do to increase your credit score.


See where your time goes with RescueTime

When you’re juggling a million little things at once, you may often find yourself wondering “Where did the time go?” As a full-time creator, you probably spread your work across content creation, marketing, online learning, social media, and a number of other tasks that keep you busy.

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Snapshot of RescueTime weekly summary

With RescueTime, you can find our exactly where your time did go and figure out how to spend it more wisely. RescueTime will also keep you focused by blocking websites that you’ve considered distracting and allow you to set timers so that you can work on important work in chunks. Not only that, you’ll get a handy weekly snapshot into how productive you were and areas for improvement.


Keep track of billable hours with Harvest

If you need to track your time for a payable project — rather than just for yourself — Harvest might be a better option for you. Harvest allows you to track billable hours, so that you can easily charge for your work.

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With Harvest, you can track several projects with different rates and easily send invoices to customers. Harvest also lets you upload receipts for expenses so that you are always reimbursed for any materials you purchase. With a number of sweet integration capabilities (did somebody say Asana?), Harvest makes it super easy to bridge all of your apps into one big time-tracking task management powerhouse.


Automate your social media with Buffer

If you’re still manually sharing all of your content from your social media accounts, it’s probably time to introduce yourself to a little thing called social media automation.

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While there are tons of tools that will help you automate your social media content, Buffer is definitely one of the better ones. It allows you to easily connect all of your social media accounts into one place where you can then schedule and publish work to all of them in one go. Buffer will tell you exactly when the best times to post across different mediums are, and then do the sharing for you. They also have analytics that will help give you a good idea of how your posts are performing.


Save a little money with Digit

When you don’t have a ton of extra money lying around, it can be difficult to allocate any of your earnings into a savings account.

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Thankfully, Digit makes it easy by connecting to your bank account, analyzing your spending, and automatically sending small amounts of money into your savings account based on how much you can afford. It’ll then send you a text, so you always know how much is being taken out and never make you spend time logging into a website. If you aren’t comfortable with the amount being taken out, you can simply send a text back to Digit and have the funds sent right back into your account.


Allocate your work time with HourStack

Do you often find yourself trying to do way too much in one day, only to realize that you have nothing to do the next? This is where HourStack comes in.

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By linking HourStack to Asana or your calendar, you can allocate certain work to specific days and set how long you think each item will take. Once you begin a task, you simply click “start” and a timer will go off once you’ve reached the time you allocated for it. I personally love using HourStack in conjunction with Asana because it helps me set more realistic deadlines and really see where my time went.


Create recipes for life with IFTTT

Recipes aren’t just for the kitchen; they’re also pretty snazzy formulas you can put together to save you time.

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Photo courtesy of Macworld

IFTTT (If This, Then That) allows you to create customized recipes based on certain triggers that you set. For example, you can make a recipe that will automatically add emails containing photos into a specific folder; or send yourself a reminder when your smartphone detects you’re in a specified location; or even help you keep your social media photos the same across multiple accounts. The possibilities are (almost) endless and guaranteed to save you precious time.


Whether you’re a seasoned professional creator or just getting started, these apps should help you save time and money! Have an app to add? Feel free to comment below.

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