Technology is everywhere, and it can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to searching for the perfect app or gadget to boost your productivity at work.
As a contractor, you have much more control over the apps and devices that you can use. Not all employers offer a bring-your-own-device policy to their staff, and many have outdated computers due to budget issues. But by working for yourself and setting your own rules, you have the freedom to choose the smartphone, computer and add-on apps that are best for you.
Here, we take a look at just how much contractors rely on technology, before suggesting some of the best apps designed to help boost your productivity so that you can grow and develop your limited company into a resounding success.
How much do contractors rely on technology?
Recent research carried out by IT solutions firm Kensington led to the discovery that people who work from home, including limited company contractors, freelancers and other self-employed individuals, rely heavily on mobile technology to complete daily tasks.
For example, it was found that 42 per cent of homeworkers check their smartphone at least 25 times per working day as they strive to keep in touch with existing and prospective clients in a bid to grow their business.
In addition, 90 per cent of respondents to the survey said they rely on their mobile phone to make business calls and to send and receive work-related emails and texts. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters (79 per cent) of contractors used their smartphone to manage their diary or calendar, while 70 per cent use the GPS signal on their phone to navigate their way around when travelling between jobs.
Some 67 per cent of those questioned said they regularly use their mobile device for taking business-related photos, such as before and after images of completed jobs to showcase their work online and via social media.
5 apps to boost your productivity
It's clear that contractors rely heavily on mobile technology, but what are the best apps for them to use to ensure they are making the most of it?
The first app on our list is Momentum. This Google Chrome add-on was launched back in 2013 as a way to keep workers motivated as they work through their to-do list. The app loads up every time you open a new browser, meaning you can always see your to-do list, as well as an inspirational quote to keep your momentum up and a beautiful view from somewhere around the world. The background scenery changes each time the app is opened, providing you with a little extra inspiration to get through the day.
Along with inputting the tasks you need to do and checking them off when they are complete, you can also type in your main focus for the day to keep yourself on track. Momentum is a great organisational tool, and it can be really helpful to see how much progress you've made throughout each day.
If you're worried that those picturesque countryside landscapes and beachside images might distract you during your working day, an organisational tool such as the free Trello app might be more up your street.
The app lets you create dashboards for each project that you're working on. Within each one, you can create a to-do list with different cards for every individual task, moving each one to 'doing' or 'done' as you progress.
This one's a little different. Headspace is more about organising your mind than your workload, leaving you feeling clear-headed when it comes to dealing with business-related matters.
Headspace is designed to provide busy workers with a space where they can switch off from their job for ten-minute periods to relax, meditate, listen to calming music or read motivational or lifestyle tips to boost the mood and provide you with a new level of focus when you get back to work.
It can be difficult to relax in our 'always-on' society, but this app is one way that technology allows you to switch off rather than on for a change.
Evernote is yet another organisational tool, where contractors can write down anything they need to, wherever they are, even if they don't have a pen or paper to hand. You can brainstorm ideas in the app, make to-do lists, create folders to store different thoughts in and save photos.
Many people say they can't live without Evernote once they've downloaded it, as it can store pretty much everything for your limited company - just make sure you back up anything that you're worried about losing!
In our digital age, new contracts are often emailed by clients rather than presented in a paper format, and not everyone has access to a printer at all times. If your latest contract needs to be signed in a hurry but it's been sent to you in a digital format, you can use HelloSign to sign it electronically and quickly send it off.
This is a method accepted by the majority of businesses, so you'll be able to begin your next contract without delay.