GOGO JONES
Creative + Co-Pilot
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What I've Learned From Teaching as an Adjunct Professor This Year

A Preview Of Apps My Business Couldn't Run Without

 

If  you are debating on making the jump into the world of working for yourself, there are plenty of things that can be intimidating in that process. You're probably asking yourself how to manage your funds, how to invoice clients and implement a project management workflow. If you are not concerned with these aspects of the switch, you need to take a long look and make sure you have your shit together. Even before I left the agency world behind, I was using a program to invoice and track finances for the client work I had built up, and I can't imagine how big of a pain in the ass it would have become at tax time. So I have decided to write a bit about the tools I use to help the business side of things run smoothly. I'm not saying these are the only way to go, but these apps are the ones that work well for me.

Harvest

Harvest is the app I use to track hours, create/send invoices and estimates, record payments and document expenses. It's a very powerful web application that helps me keep all of bookkeeping duties in order with ease. It is a paid service but stands alone as the best $12 a month I spend keeping my shit tidy and together. I asked fellow designer/friend and Nashville Creative Mornings Host Alicia Waters from Monkey Ink Design if she had heard of any good bookkeeping/time-tracking apps about 3 years ago, and Harvest was her recommendation. I've been using it ever since. My favorite features? The mobile companion app allows you to take photos of receipts that you can then attach to an invoice as an expense. It's seamless and wonderful. Another nice feature is the ability to create beautiful invoices with your own logo attached and the ability for the client to pay directly online. It's a winner in my book, no doubt.
See for yourself  here.

Asana

No shit, this digital product has changed the way I operate. In retrospect, I was a complete mess before I found this product. If you want an application (both desktop and mobile versions) that will help prioritize your to-dos and give you a platform to manage multiple team-members all without emailing back-and-forth, you can't get any more powerful than Asana. With as many moving parts as I have going on at any given time, this keeps me on track.

I was having a beer with my good buddy Marcus Whitney, a tech leader in Nashville, about a year ago. I was looking to break out of working for myself into a more entrepreneurial role and was drilling him with questions. What are some tools or apps that help streamline the way he runs his businesses? Asana was at the top of his list. I jumped on board and have been continually surprised by how much stress it relieves when I can see all of my projects right in front of me. It helps me focus on the things that are important and allows me to easily plan and track my day. Asana gives you the ability to create projects, assign tasks and sub-tasks and even tags to easily categorize priorities. You can assign due dates and toggle between seeing everything in list view or visually as a calendar. Think if Darth Vader was Basecamp and Padme was Trello, their little badass Luke Skywalker (AKA Asana) would be the death of them both. I know, I know, they do slightly different things and that's a little extreme. It works for me, but I realize everyone has their own needs and preferences. I really just wanted to throw in a Star Wars reference.

Alicia from Creative Mornings took my Asana suggestion when we were initially setting up the chapter and has amazed me at how easily she learned learned and utilized its features. I'm not delegating too often to team-members, but it shows it's versatility even more within groups. She used it's strengths and was assigning us tasks, brainstorming ideas and coordinating events with the calendar feature in no time. 

There is a free single-user option, which I take advantage of, and a team subscription that many top companies in silicon valley tout as imperative to their workflow. If you want to get organized and need a little kick in the ass that'll help make you more productive, this is it. 

See for yourself here.

They are both worth a look.

Stephen Jones