The best thing about freelancing is that you are your own boss. But that can also be the worst thing.
It means that you’re the one that’s in charge of scheduling projects, taking payments, advertising – everything falls on your shoulders.
And that can be tough to manage sometimes.
If you only have a handful of clients at the minute, then you might think you’re managing quite nicely with spreadsheets, sticky notes, and calendar apps.
But what happens when you blow up and have tons of clients?
That’s the dream, right?
A project management tool is the perfect way to manage all aspects of your freelance business in one place. It makes it easy to keep track of your projects, clients, and payments – and also allows you to scale up seamlessly as you grow!
In this article we’re going to evaluate 20 project management tools that are great for freelancers, so you can find the one that’s best for you.
What is a Project Management Tool?
Before we get into the list it’s probably best to clarify what we mean by “project management tool”.
Project management tools vary widely in the features that they offer, but the term typically refers to software that helps you manage your daily tasks. These tools can be useful for everything, from planning your annual vacation, to managing the construction and launch of a new rocket to Mars.
And, according to recent data, 71% of people who manage their daily tasks using an online project management tool feel it’s easy to get an exact overview of where their projects are up to.
There are some tools out there that would be best suited to large teams and enterprise businesses, but there’s also some great ones that are focused on improving productivity for freelancers.
Let’s take a look…
20 Project Management Tools For Freelancers In 2021
Project.co has been designed specifically to help creatives manage their workload, and those that use the platform save an average of 2 hours per day on unproductive work.
If you’re a creative then you probably reel at the sight of spreadsheets and clunky enterprise software.
With Project.co, you don’t have to worry about any of that. As you can see from the video, the platform looks great, with a focus on the visual. It’s also super easy to use!
Tasks can be viewed on a timeline so you can see what you’ve got to do and when.
You can also see your tasks on a kanban chart – allowing you to see your workflow in a visual format. You can drag and drop tasks onto the next stage when they are complete:
And it’s easy to generate payments in a couple of clicks. Clients can pay securely over the platform with their credit card, and when they do in an invoice is automatically generated.
Inviting clients to your projects is not only good for payments, it’s also great for keeping all of your communication in one central place. You can share files back and forth, collect feedback, and even track the time you spend on each project – to ensure maximum profitability.
The BEST thing about Project.co?
There’s a variety of different templates that can help you get started out of the box, covering everything from podcasting to event planning.
Asana is a tool that is primarily marketing towards teams, but don’t let that put you off. Freelancers can benefit from this project management tool, too.
Just like Project.co, there are many different ways you can view tasks – via Kanban boards, as a list, or a timeline – so you can choose the one that feels most natural to you.
As you can see from the video above, Asana is big on saving you time. The tool allows you to automate processes, such as automatically setting due dates when tasks are created.
Possibly one of the biggest qualms that most freelancers seem to have about Asana is that it can be a little bit overwhelming at first. This is mainly because of the sheer number of features and the fact that everything is customizable.
However, after you put the time and effort in to customize the tool and make it work for you, it should save you time on mundane tasks and increase your productivity.
If Asana is a little bit complicated and overwhelming, then Trello is its opposite. Trello is a kanban-style list-making application – which means it makes it easy for you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun and flexible way.
Trello is super easy to use. You can invite your clients to your projects (known as “boards”) if you need to – and everything is organized visually so that you can see what tasks need your attention on any given day.
You can click into your tasks to add more details, such as descriptions, due dates, attachments, and more!
Just like Asana, you can also use automation to instantly move completed tasks through your workflow.
Monday.com is a versatile project management tool that can be used by freelancers, all the way through to enterprise businesses.
There are many different use cases for the tool, varying from construction, to software development, to creative projects.
Monday.com is mainly marketed towards teams, but it can be effective for managing your own tasks as a freelancer. After adding your tasks, you can view your workload for the day, week, month – or even the year! – at a glance.
The reporting section also makes it easy to keep track of things like time spent on projects, profits, active projects, and more.
ClickUp refers to itself not as a project management tool, but as a productivity app. The goal for ClickUp is to be your one-stop-shop for everything – so you can forget about your email app, your to-do list app, and even your documents and notes apps.
ClickUp has an impressive 15 different ways to view tasks, from the popular kanban view to a more traditional mind map or table view. So you can choose the one that works best for you.
And you can not only track your projects, but your goals too. There is an OKR section that allows you to set goals and track them in real-time.
ClickUp makes it easy to switch from another project management tool, such as Monday.com or Asana. You can automatically transfer your data from those tools to ClickUp in minutes.
Todoist helps you harness the power of your to-do list – just like it has done for over 150 million projects already.
Todoist has an interesting variety of use cases – of course it’s suitable for businesses and freelancers but, because of its ease of use, users also find themselves incorporating this task management app into their personal lives.
Todoist is a simple, one screen tool that freelancers can use to create tasks for their projects. All you need to do is add your task as though you’re writing it on a paper to-do list, then you can tag it to a project (for example, Client A or Client B) and set a priority level.
You can also set due dates, and even recurring due dates for tasks that are ongoing. It’s super simple to use and easy to get started!
Microsoft To-Do is a cloud-based task management tool that anyone can use. For freelancers, it’s a great way to break your projects down into smaller, more manageable tasks.
You can add due dates to your tasks, set reminders, and use a checklist to tick off your tasks as you go.
With Microsoft To-Do’s smart daily planner, you can take each day as it comes – and the tool even offers personalized suggestions to update your to-do list.
You can use Microsoft To-Do online or on any of your Microsoft devices. The tool is cross-platform, so you can manage your tasks on your laptop and then switch to your phone seamlessly.
If you’re a freelancer that works with others a lot, SquidHub could be the project management tool for you.
Squidhub has been noted by users as a combination of Slack, Asana, and Evernote all in one – a perfect place for freelancers to not only manage their tasks, but also chat with fellow freelancers. And that interaction can be really important for people who work alone.
It’s easy to get started with SquidHub. The tool works from one central dashboard, which includes a to-do list, file sharing app, and a team messenger.
This is great if you work on projects that involve more than one person – like videos, for example. Everyone involved – the copywriter, designer, animator, voiceover artist, and so on – can communicate via SquidHub.
MeisterTask can help you organize and manage your projects in a visual, customizable environment.
You can get started straight away, by making use of their predefined kanban-style project boards – or choose to customize them to fit your needs.
Like ClickUp, MeisterTask makes it easy to switch from other project management tools. They offer direct imports from Trello, Asana, and Wunderlist.
You can also attach files to your tasks and track your time, ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency.
We’ve mentioned kanban boards a couple of times already throughout this article – they’re great for visualizing tasks and can help increase productivity.
KanbanFlow is a project management tool that revolves around this concept. Freelancers can create and use personalized kanban boards to manage their daily tasks and projects.
You can prioritize certain tasks (by dragging them into the “Do Today” column) and also work on reducing your “In-Progress” tasks to get more projects completed and signed off.
KanbanFlow also has a Pomodoro timer that allows you to track the time spent on projects. The Pomodoro Technique is the process of working solidly, with no distractions, for 25 minutes, and then taking a short 2-3 minute break. Many people believe this technique increases focus and productivity!
Remember The Milk is a to-do app that anybody can use. You can use it for anything, from managing your work projects to making sure you remember to pick up the milk – hence the name!
With Remember The Milk, making to-do lists is quick and easy. And you can also set reminders so that you never forget to do the tasks on your list.
As with other tools on this list, you can add due dates to your tasks and tags – so that you never mix up your projects.
Plus, thanks to a partnership with Google, you can integrate the tool to your Gmail and Google Drive accounts – making it easy to attach files to your tasks.
You can also pair it with Google Assistant, so you can find out what task is next on your to-do list by saying: “Hey Google!”
With Paymo, you can manage your tasks, clients, projects, and timesheets all in one place.
This platform is primarily used by teams, which means it has a lot of features that aren’t relevant to freelancers – but you can customize your dashboard so that it only shows the features you want to see.
One of the biggest issues freelancers face (particularly those that are new to the game!) is giving accurate project estimates.
Paymo works to solve this by keeping your previous timesheet data within your platform, so that creating new estimates is a breeze.
Another benefit of Paymo is that after you set up your dashboard, there’s no need to keep checking your tasks lists and inbox. Paymo keeps you up to date with live notifications.
13. Task Pigeon
At first glance, Task Pigeon looks like a project management tool for teams. But upon closer inspection there are lots of ways that this tool could benefit freelancers.
Like most project management tools on the list, there is the option to view tasks in different ways. There is a list view, a tile view, and a kanban board.
Tasks can be marked as in-progress, due soon, or complete to help you prioritize, and you can also categorize your tasks with categories and sub-categories, for further organisation.
One of the biggest benefits of Task Pigeon for freelancers is that you can mark certain tasks as Private. This allows you to invite your clients to your central dashboard, so they can interact with certain tasks and view attachments, while keeping other tasks (such as “chase payment”) hidden.
Microsoft isn’t the only tech giant to jump on the project management tool band wagon. Google also has a tasks app, called Google Tasks. The app can be downloaded to your device, or used as a Chrome extension.
This simple, no-frills task manager app is perfect for freelancers because it’s free and really easy to pick up and get started.
Tasks can be added to a simple, customizable kanban board:
And the app synchronizes across all of your devices and Google apps, such as Gmail and Google Calendar. There’s also a mobile version for managing tasks on the go.
Any.do is one of the few tools on this list that is aimed at individuals first, and teams second. This simple, yet smart, to-do list app can be accessed across almost any device – from your laptop, to your mobile, to your watch – and all tasks are automatically synced.
Any.do also connects with your calendar app, so you’ll be able to get a full overview of your schedule.
The feature that would be most beneficial for freelancers is the daily planner, called Any.do Moment.
Moment can be used to easily review your daily tasks at a glance, so you can decide which tasks to complete, which to reschedule, and which to delete or mark as done – helping you to stay focused and reach your goals.
TickTick is a great project management tool for freelancers – full of lots of useful, easy-to-use features.
You can add tasks in a variety of different ways, including voice input and the option to turn emails directly into tasks. You can also set reminders so that you never miss your deadlines – including an “annoying alert” that makes sure you really don’t miss them!
You can add durations to your tasks to help you better manage your time. Plus, gamification adds an element of fun. The more tasks you complete on time, the higher your achievement score will be:
And there’s also some useful productivity features, like a Pomodoro timer and a white noise player.
17. Toggl Plan
Toggl Plan is a tool that can help freelancers manage everything, from your client tasks and projects, to your own internal tasks – such as updating your website.
The first thing that stands out about Toggl is that it looks great. You can easily view your tasks on a visual timeline and color code them for organization – such as making client tasks green and internal tasks orange – or for prioritization, like making urgent tasks red.
You can further organize your tasks by adding checklists and comments to them. It’s also easy to attach files.
By making your task timelines shareable you can give your clients access so that they have peace of mind that everything is on track.
Speaking of tracking, there is another product called Toggl Track that is great for tracking time so you can find out how profitable your freelance projects are.
Similar to Any.do, Things is a task manager that is more aimed towards personal use – although it’s definitely useful for professionals too.
Things allows you to break your projects down into smaller, more manageable chunks. You can split your projects into separate headings, and then add checklists below each of these headings – so you know what small steps are required in order to achieve the bigger picture.
You can also search for your tasks using the “Quick Find” feature and set push notifications so that you can be reminded of tasks – ensuring you never miss deadlines.
At the moment, Things is only available on Apple devices and prices vary depending on the device you want to use.
Basecamp is primarily aimed at teams, so there are a lot of tools and features that won’t be relevant to you as a freelancer. But it’s still a great free project management tool that you should be able to get use out of.
Using the Basecamp dashboard you can split your work into separate projects – you could do this per client, or even per project (if you work on multiple projects for the same clients).
Within each project you can manage your tasks with a to-do list and a scheduler that links to most popular calendar apps.
With the freelancer plan, called Basecamp Personal, you can only manage up to 3 projects.
From there, you would need to either delete past projects or sign up for Basecamp Business (currently priced at $99 a month).
A large part of freelance life that we haven’t mentioned yet is gathering leads and generating sales. Podio brings this lead tracking together with a project management tool, so you can keep growing while focusing on your daily tasks and projects.
It’s not the prettiest platform on the list, but it’s definitely functional. And easy to use with a simple drag-and-drop format.
You can also invite your clients to your projects and they can view your work and leave their feedback directly within Podio.
1. For ease of use – Project.co
For ease of use, Project.co tops the list here. It’s easy to see all of your project details from one clean dashboard, and you can set up new projects (to keep your clients separate) in just a couple of clicks.
Plus, the templates feature makes it really easy to get started with pre-populated projects that you can customize at your leisure.
2. For simplicity – Todoist
If you just want a simple, no-frills to-do list then Todoist is the tool for you. Adding your tasks is as easy as writing out a paper to-do list, but the features provided by Todoist supercharge it for you.
You can set priority levels, due dates, and tags – and it’s all viewable from one screen.
3. For customization – Asana
Asana has an endless list of features. While this can make the platform seem overwhelming at first, if you’re looking for a feature that you can customize and make your own then look no further.
It takes a little bit more investment on your side – getting to know the tool and setting up all of your customizations – but after that it should be ready to help you boost productivity.
We all want to be more productive. But when your work is already getting on top of you it can be difficult to find the time to review and learn how to use a new project management tool.
Hopefully this list makes that choice a little bit easier for you!