Freelance Writing: Simple Tips on Complicated TopicsOptimizing Your Freelancing Software Package – PART 1

Software for Freelance Writers One of the first things you notice when you start freelancing is how much new software you accumulate on your computer. Maybe this is not the case for you, but for many freelance writers, it’s actually an important issue.

The freelancer’s computer is like the blacksmith’s anvil; we can’t work without it! That is why it is so important to keep your PC/Mac running smoothly, swiftly, and reliably, with no software glitches.
To optimize your computer’s functioning, you need to be able to use the best software tools. These are the ones that don’t eat up RAM, don’t take up much space on your hard drive, and are reliable without being intrusive. That is why I am offering you a list of software solutions that are currently in use by hundreds of freelance writers that we know!

These options are road tested and are sure to deliver great results. So, if you are using something else, consider switching to one of the following. This article turned out to be so massive that we are breaking it down into two installments.
We know that a lot of programs out there offer productivity and efficiency. However, we worked with hundreds of them over the years. Therefore, the following list will include one software product in each category so you don’t waste your time on anything less than the best and most productive options.
File Management
I’m one of those people for whom the ordinary file explorer/Windows Explorer just won’t cut it anymore. I simply have too many files, in too many folders. I know that this is the same for many other freelance writers. Over the years, you accumulate masses of files; of drafts, of source documents, instructions, or samples, from customers. I’m sure that many of you have sheer bedlam loose on your desktops. :) What can you do about it?

Well, there are numerous management solutions. Most of them are free, but I have a recommendation from the folks here: Total Commander. You don’t even have to go through an installation step – the .exe file that you download is already a working copy of the program. This software has been around for years, and it offers new releases from time to time, and it features some very useful tools.

For example, it makes it a lot easier to unite two or more archives into one than you are probably experiencing via the usual Explorer interface. Additionally, it provides a whole range of smaller goodies that contribute to a great user experience for this software, and which don’t seem to be available on other major file management solutions.
Instant Messaging
Chances are that you have worked on a collaborative project, or would look forward to doing so. Alternatively, perhaps you simply enjoy instant messaging your friends and family. You might run into trouble if your correspondents use Yahoo or MSN, or other less common solutions. What can you do about it? There’s a great tool out there: a software solution that can incorporate different IM protocols with one single interface – you can receive your messages in one place, without having to install and open all of the other messaging systems. It’s called Miranda IM Client.

It allows you to have all of your accounts in one place and with one interface without the need to switch. It supports MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, ICQ, and even Facebook (with proper integration) and tons of other messaging clients. It works great as an optimization tool for archiving your IM history and all of your contacts.
“Cleaning” Your Computer
There is probably a disturbing amount of stuff that you are not aware of and don’t pay attention to on your computer. One of the worst speed bumps for your computer is your Internet history. Some of you are in the helpful habit of deleting it regularly, and some…not so much. However, this plays an important role in your PC’s productivity, and thus affects your freelancing productivity as well.
You should know that whenever you install a program, it leaves traces of that installation. These are files that are supposed to be temporary, but they may not get deleted even when you uninstall the software, These files eventually take up space on your hard drive, and could slow down your computer’s functioning perceptibly.
What can you do about this? You can try manually deleting these files by searching through one folder after another. This will take ages, and it is often difficult to be certain which files you should be deleting. This takes some computer-savvy! However, there is a great solution to all these problems: Ccleaner. This software will delete all of your unneeded files, Internet history, cache, temporary files, and other no longer useful files.

The first time I used it on my computer, it freed up a whopping 1 Gigabyte of space on my hard drive. From that moment on, I was a regular user. Additionally, it offers some virus protection, since it deletes malicious files, undetected by your anti-virus software.
OK, part 1 ends here. Next week we are going to discuss word processing, PDF files and e-mail clients. So stay tuned! Have a great week! And if you are interested in this topic, you can check out this older article from our blog.

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