The best work-life balance apps for small businesses and freelancers

We look at some apps that can ease you into a better work-life balance.

There’s an app out there that helps you see what your cat would look like with a moustache, and there’s at least one that lets you wreak havoc as a rampaging goat. But there’s also a whole range of more serious apps available that can actually boost your business rather than providing endless distractions. Apps that help you manage things like your time, your paperwork or your sleeping patterns can help you on your journey to a better work-life balance. Here are some of our favourites, for the times when we’re not channeling our inner goat.

To wake up feeling rested

Sleep Cycle

We know that tiredness and trouble sleeping are key causes of business stress, so get your day off to a good start with a wake-up call from this app. Sleep Cycle uses data from your phone’s motion sensors to monitor your sleeping patterns, and will wake you during a relatively light sleep phase within the 30 minute window you’ve defined. You’ll then feel as if you’ve been woken naturally rather than being pulled kicking and screaming into the harsh light of day.

To reduce the time you waste

Rescue Time

If you sometimes feel like your day is sucked into a black hole and you reach the evening wondering what you’ve actually achieved, this app could come to your rescue. It keeps an eye on your internet use and produces reports on the applications and websites you’ve used. You can use it to set goals and see your progress and productivity, and the premium version allows you to block distracting websites and log your offline activities too.

To get more out of life

Balanced

Make time for the little things in life with Balanced. Use the app to choose the fun activities you want to include in your week, from yoga to playing the guitar, and tell it how frequently you want to do them. You can prioritise your activities, receive gentle reminders, and satisfyingly swipe them away once they’re done.

To make your paperwork paperless

Shoeboxed

Say goodbye to that chaotic paperwork drawer by using Shoeboxed to organise your receipts and business cards, create expense reports and track your mileage. Take a photograph of a receipt and this handy app will extract the important data and categorise your purchase in a fully searchable database.

To keep track of your work day

Toggl

Particularly helpful for freelancers, Toggl is an easy-to-use time tracking app that works like a digital stopwatch and tags the time you’ve spent on particular tasks and projects. You can use the free version to track your time and produce shareable reports, or upgrade to the paid version to set billable rates and access advanced reporting.

To improve your productivity

Focus Booster

This app helps you embrace the Pomodoro Technique, which is a productivity-boosting way of working in 25 minute sprints and five minute breaks. It involves a planning and prioritisation phase so that you have clear goals for the day, and then encourages you to focus on a particular task during each sprint. The Focus Booster app gives you a digital Pomodoro timer and lets you customise the length of your working and break periods. You can also generate reports to check how you spent your day.

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