Contrary to popular belief, freelancing is not easy. Irrespective of the nature of the work that they do, a freelancer needs a lot more discipline and motivation to be effective and stay focused. One of the most crucial keys to a successful freelance career is proper time management. Given all the possible distractions, along with the pressure of producing high-quality results all while trying to remain competitive with strategic pricing and still compiling your own invoices, it is easy to see why many freelancers lose focus and control.
This is where time tracking comes in. Your success as a freelancer lies in knowing how you spend this precious resource, and whether projects are truly a value add or not.
What are the benefits of time tracking?
In the normal business world, employees generally have someone watching over them and holding them accountable for time and productivity. In the freelance world, you are that someone. Your time is money, and as necessary as proper time management is for your bottom line, so too is it necessary for you to determine other aspects like your pricing, and how to distribute your time effectively to improve productivity.
You are in control of your freelance business, and if you're looking for a few reasons to utilize a good time tracking tool, we've got you covered.
Improve your productivity
Your aim is to simplify your processes so that you're not spending too much time on a particular project. Being a freelancer means having to juggle a number of clients at the same time, and this entails effective planning in order to increase your earnings. Time tracking facilitates insights that help to identify problem areas. Through it you are able to collect data and perform self-studies that clearly pinpoint downfalls in your time management, fix these challenges and improve your workflow.
Create invoices for billable hours
Accurately estimating the length of time that it may take to complete a project is extremely difficult, and without a proper time tracking tool in place, you're likely to run the risk of underquoting your clients. This will cost you in the long run. It is essential that every phase of a project is quoted for, and this is only possible with a time tracking tool.
This will also help you to run realistic comparisons between the time you spend on a project, and the income you earn as a result of it and goes a long way in determining whether the project was actually worth it or not. In short, if you're looking to make better financial decisions, using a time tracking tool is an excellent resource to get you started.
Almost every freelancer has or will have a client that expects additional work or is more demanding of time without wanting to pay for it. We've already mentioned that your time is money - and there's no way that this precious resource can just be thrown away. You may find yourself having to deal with constant emails or phone calls from lower-paying clients that demand progress reports - but this eats away at time allocations to other projects.
A time tracking tool comes in extremely handy in tracking every minute that you spend with your clients, and again, makes your billing process so much smoother and more accurate. By implementing this, you rightfully earn your worth and are able to identify time wasters as well as clients that are just not worth the effort. Remember that it is your business, and you're not just allowed to be selective, you're actually required to do so.
Avoid being overwhelmed
You're an expert in your field and you love what you do. Your aim is to impress and to ultimately deliver superb quality that goes beyond expectation with every project. But having to juggle multiple clients at a particular time can leave you feeling burned out and overwhelmed. There are only so many hours in a day, and getting through everything within set deadlines can be daunting. Time tracking is the answer to proper time allocation.
It is easy to get carried away in the middle of a project or to get lost in your attempts to multi-task. Multitasking has been shown to lead to a 40% drop in productivity and may lead to higher error rates, resulting in you spending more time on a project than you should. The purpose of time tracking is to keep you focused while tracking your time, and with it, you're more likely to get rid of distraction and actually get more value out of your time.
Do you often find yourself setting work back for a later stage? Procrastination is undoubtedly a waste of time, no pun intended. A common problem among a large number of people today is not just avoiding what we find difficult or challenging, but also looking for reasons to give ourselves an additional 5-minute break. Chronic procrastination is a huge obstacle to success, and while it may seem that social media gives us the relief we seek at that moment, it is only temporary and our work suffers as a result.
When left to the last minute, work generally takes longer to complete, with a higher error rate and of course the problem of beating yourself up over it. With a time tracking tool, you're consciously aware of the minutes ticking by, and because of it, you do your best to capitalize on every single moment, meaning less procrastination and better decision making.
You may sometimes find it easier to provide excuses for below-average results on projects rather than facing the fact that poor time management is the core reason for poor delivery. The good news is that this can be turned around. As a freelancer, you are your own boss, and you're only accountable to yourself. A time tracking tool is an excellent resource to increase your accountability, and give you greater insight and transparency into your work and processes.
With it, you're clearly able to analyze what consumes most of your time, prioritize and schedule accordingly and regain control over your day. Using a time tracking tool puts the power back in your hands, and you will find that your days are more manageable, profitable and also that you have extra time that just wasn't available before. The result? A happier, more relaxed, and in control you.
There is no business that operates successfully without proper time management, and it is widely known that ineffective time management leads to a myriad of complications, of which mental health is a major concern. When you are overwhelmed or anxious over having too much to do at one time or over the fear of missing a deadline, you simply cannot function optimally. Your livelihood as a freelancer depends on effective time management and productivity.
A time management tool is crucial to your success and is a constant reminder that you're more than capable of earning your worth if you manage your time efficiently. With all things considered, investing in a time management tool is probably one of the smartest financial decisions that any freelancer can make.