Jimmy Chan prefers to go mobile when running his side business.
On weekends, the 36-year-old computer engineer from Montreal runs a wedding photography business called Pixelicious. As a wedding photographer, he has to bring a lot of gear with him to the assignment, usually three cameras, three flashes, more than four lenses and enough memory cards and batteries to get him through the day.
The last thing he needs to lug around is a laptop. That’s why he tries to do as much as he can using his smartphone.
With his Android, he sends contracts for clients to sign, keeps track of his expenses and responds to calls and messages as clients expect things to be done as quickly as possible.
“You gotta be quick,” he says. “You’ve got to deliver that level of customer service, that responsiveness, as quickly as possible. That’s what clients demand nowadays, so it’s really by necessity that it has to be through the smartphone.”
As many gig economy jobs include some form of driving or remote work, having a smartphone that can do everything is a great way to operate more efficiently. Several smartphone apps can help a side hustler run their business using programs such as mileage tracker, document scanners and productivity tools. With that in mind, here are 13 apps to consider to make life easier.
13 Side Hustle Apps to Make Life Easier
Below is a list of smartphone apps that can help make life in the gig economy easier. These apps are broken down into categories to aid in time management, organization and record keeping, taxes, mileage reimbursement and gas savings programs.
Time Management Apps
Time is in short supply when juggling a side hustle with a full-time job. So figure out a time management strategy to get the most out of your free time. These apps will help keep you on task and minimize distractions.
1. Focus Keeper
Focus Keeper is a time management app that follows the Pomodoro technique, a method that involves working for 25 minutes before taking a short break. After completing four work cycles, you take a longer break.
The app has a clean, simple layout with customization options to change the length of the work cycles and break periods. An optional pro version offers more customization features for $1.99.
Purpose: Stay focused when working on your side hustle
Price: Free, $1.99 (Pro Version)
2. Forest: Stay Focused
Do you easily get distracted by your phone while working on your side hustle? This app might help.
Forest: Stay Focused turns staying off your phone into a game. You set a timer for how long you want to work without distraction. Once you hit start, leave the app open and watch a digital tree grow.
Whenever you exit the app to check your text messages, social media updates or whatever, the tree will wither. Over time, your digital forest will reflect the hard work you’ve put into working on your gig.
Purpose: Become more productive by staying off your phone
How much time do you spend watching TV in a given week instead of working on your side hustle? You can find out with the ATracker time management app.
This app allows you to quickly toggle between different customizable activities, such as watching TV, housework, driving and more. You can see in pie-graph form a breakdown of how you spend your time outside your day job.
Organization and Record-Keeping Apps
One of the most significant benefits of going digital is that you can stay organized on the go. With cloud-based to-do lists, camera scanners and plug-in document signers, you can quickly respond to customers remotely while creating digital backups.
There’s no need for the large office scanner thanks to this app from Evernote. Scannable is a mobile image scanner that uses your iPhone camera to capture documents, receipts and business cards and saves them as camera roll images or PDFs. Another feature automatically saves business card information as a LinkedIn contact.
Purpose: Scan papers, receipts, documents, business cards into instant PDF images
5. Adobe Fill & Sign
With Adobe Fill & Sign, there is no need to print out documents to sign them — it can all be done through your phone. The app allows you to fill in the proper information on forms, such as your name and contact information and use your finger or stylus to create a signature.
Purpose: Autofill documents and copy/paste or sign your signature with your finger
6. Google Apps
You don’t have to have a Pixel phone to have access to your Google accounts. The Google Apps — Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Gmail — are available on Apple and Android for free. These apps will allow you to create, edit and share files on the go.
Purpose: Have access to your Drive, Docs, Sheets and other Google apps on your phone
Platforms: Apple and Android (you can find the full list of links to download here)
While most smartphones have to-do lists built in, they might not be so intuitive in their design. Wunderlist gives you the ability to fully customize your lists with due dates, notes, reminder notifications and share them with whoever you want.
Each version of Wunderlist is explicitly built for the device, iPhone, iPad, Desktop, Android, etc. For example, the iPhone version includes a swipe down feature to quickly access your to-do list and the Android version includes a quick Add Widget feature.
Purpose: A digital to-do list for your phone
Apps for Taxes
Thinking about taxes can cause dread for side hustlers. The thought of not knowing how much money to set aside or which expenses are deductible can make people’s heads spin. Luckily, there are apps for that.
IRS2G is the official mobile app of the Internal Revenue Service. The app features include a ways to check the status of your refund, make a mobile-friendly payment to IRS Direct Pay or get free tax help.
If your taxes are going to be more complicated than expected, you can also access free tax software or information on how to get help in-person.
9. QuickBooks Self-Employed
QuickBooks Self-Employed is built for freelancers, independent contractors and sole proprietors in mind. The app has a built-in scanner to keep track of receipts on the go, as well as a mileage tracker, expense tracker and invoice generator. That way you’re prepared come April 15.
Purpose: Keep track of your expenses and taxes on the go.
Price: Free to download, $5 per month for the first six months, then $10 per month after.
Everyone loves saving money at the pump. If your side hustle requires making frequent stops at a gas station, then every little bit helps. Also, don’t forget to see if your local gas station has a rewards program.
GetUpside is a gas rebate app that lets you save money on every gallon of gas you pump.. Once you select a nearby gas station, you’ll have four hours to pump your gas and upload a photo of your receipt. Savings can range from a couple of cents to a quarter per gallon.
GetUpside is available at select locations in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
Purpose: Get money back when purchasing gas
If you’re not interested in going the rebate route to find cheap gas, then check out GasBuddy. This app aggregates the gas prices of stations in your area so you can see the least expensive fuel available. Plus, get a discount card from GasBuddy to automatically save 10 cents per gallon on your first purchase (and 5 cents per gallon after that).
Purpose: Find the cheapest gas in your area.
Mileage Tracker Apps
If you’re a rideshare driver, delivery driver, or use your vehicle to do your side hustle, mileage tracking is one of the most critical deductions to record for your taxes. Some people opt to keep a log of their miles traveled for work using the classic pen and paper method. But there are digital options available, too. If these don’t interest you, we’ve got more mileage tracker apps to choose from.
For rideshare or delivery drivers who might be forgetful when logging mileage by hand, it might be worth giving MileIQ a shot. This app, included with Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium Subscriptions, automatically tracks your trips while running in the background. Users can swipe the trip left or right to classify each drive as a business trip or a personal trip.
The basic version of MileIQ is free to download which tracks up to 40 drives per month. The unlimited version costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 annually.
Purpose: Mileage tracking
Price: Free for the Basic version, $5.99 monthly or $59.99 annually for the Unlimited version
With income, expenses, mileage and those quarterly estimated taxes, a spreadsheet doesn’t always cut it. Instead, use Hurdlr, a free app dedicated to helping self-employed entrepreneurs track and streamline their money — and taxes.
You can file your taxes through the app or send your reports directly to your CPA. It’ll also help you maximize your income by identifying all available deductions.
Purpose: Mileage tracking
Platforms: Apple and Android
Matt Reinstetle is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.