As a freelancer, it is critical that you know how you’re spending your time. Not only do your clients expect you to bill them for the exact time you work for them, but it is also important for you to know how you spend your precious time every day. Even if you do not charge an hourly rate, knowing how much time you’re spending on each piece of work allows you to understand how profitable each project is, how efficient you are, and how to maximize your profit – and time away from work. Time is money, and just like we want to know where our money is going, we need to know where our time is being invested. Still not convinced? Here are the top 5 reasons you should be tracking your time.
It helps you focus on the important rather than the urgent.
Everything that needs to get done today is not always what will get you where you want to be in say 6 months or 6 years. If you are out of clean clothes, by all means, spend time doing laundry. But if you find yourself day after day doing a lot of tasks that seem critical, you may very well come up for air in a few weeks (or months or years) and wonder, ‘where did all the time go?’ Time tracking gives you the gift of awareness.
It helps build trust.
If you can show your client exactly how much time you spent on research, design, planning, writing, managing, etc., they will feel confident that you are an organized, honest, and reliable professional. By being transparent with how you use your time, you can build open and trusting relationships with clients, vendors, and colleagues.
It allows you to prioritize and delegate work based on accurate information.
Getting new work, staring at the wall waiting for inspiration, meeting deadlines for current work, waiting for the kettle to boil…not all of these activities were created equal. Maybe you really enjoy waiting for the kettle to boil but could use some help with business development and thus hand off “getting new work” to somebody else. Once you start tracking your time and have a clear record of what you are doing with each and every day, you will feel empowered to decide how to best prioritize and delegate. Time is not found, it’s made.
It is critical for billing purposes.
On a very basic level, if you work for yourself, the only way you’ll get money into your bank account is by billing clients. Most clients expect to know exactly how much work you’ve done for them before they’re ready to pay you. With a precise tracking system, billing is a breeze. No more guessing how much time you spent on each piece of work, tracking your time provides accuracy in your invoicing.
Time tracking can actually put money in your pocket.
Time tracking can be a great tool to find tax breaks. Seriously, if you are spending any time at all on work that qualifies as Research and Development (R&D Tax Credit), tracking this time will allow you to put money back in your pocket at the end of the financial year. The taxman is one accurate guy, and by having records of your R&D work you can keep more money this financial year.
If the idea of tracking your time sounds like yet another burden to be added on your to do list, fear not! WiseTime is the solution for those of us who want to know where the time went, without having to track our time. Try it out for free and see how time tracking can change your life—and then check out virtual assistants on Fiverr who want to help you get more done in less time.
Freelancers, how do you track your time? Tell us your tips in the comments below.