The freelance lifestyle is an attractive one. But with all of the flexibility comes the reality that work might not always be as regular as we
The phrase “time is money” is especially true if you’re a freelancer.
Regardless of whether you bill your clients by the hour, based on project milestones, or the value you provide, in the end, you’re charging for your time and expertise.
Which means since your time is finite (and it’s the main asset of your freelance business) you really should consider using a time tracker for all of your freelance work. It will help you get more done, charge what you’re worth, and grow your business.
Below, we’ll explain the power behind using a time-tracker for your freelance business with four solid, business-impacting reasons:
1. Using a time-tracker improves your time-management
First, using a simple time-tracking tool will help you improve your time management skills as a freelancer.
Because time is your most valuable asset, you need to make every minute count. After all, as a freelancer, if you’re not working, you’re not earning.
Plus, freelancers who stay organized and productive are far more likely to have satisfied clients that come back to them month after month.
The trouble is, it’s easy to fall into the illusion that you are being productive when you actually aren’t, so give yourself a fighting chance and rely on technology (and not your gut) to track your time.
For example, let’s say you are building a landing page for a client.
Both of you agree that 24 billable hours would be a reasonable time for the completion of the project. Or you factor that into your “by project” or “value-based” bid.
Since you normally work eight hours per day, you anticipate that the landing page will be ready in three days.
At the end of the second day, you realize that you aren’t even done with half of the items you need to complete. Uh oh. You’ve completely bid this wrong. You know you have invested 16 hours, but the landing page looks like if you have barely worked 10.
Your first thought is to ask the client for a deadline extension. But, how will you justify it? Who will pay for the extra hours?
In the best case, you may have to work extra for free. In the worst, your client will exceed his budget and this will be your last project with them.
This all could have been avoided if you had historical time-tracking data to help you give a better bid.
That’s because a time-tracker will help you see where your time is going and make corrections when needed. All in all, tracking your time will help you be more productive and even happier as a freelancer.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you can start solving the problem by signing up for our free time-tracker. It’s crazy easy to use, fast and available on all devices.
2. A time-tracker can increase your output (and revenue)
When you know where you’re spending your time, you’re able to focus on the revenue-generating activities in your business. And, naturally, your business grows as a result.
For many freelancers, their computer is a critical tool.
But your computer can also be a huge distraction.
At your fingertips, you’ve got non-billable tasks like paying bills, sending invoices, taking calls with prospects, marketing your services, etc. — not to mention all the distractions of social media, email, and news.
So do you know how much time you are actually spending on non-billable tasks? Are you counting them as “working hours”? Are there any tasks you should de-prioritize or even automate?
When you know what activities provide a higher return on investment, you can prioritize with a clear perspective — and convert that clearer perspective into more freelance revenue.
In the same way, a time-tracker can help you find the bright spots in your freelance business. When you know which freelance jobs bring in the most revenue, you can leave your low-performing clients behind, freeing you up to make more money for less work.
As you can see, tracking your time opens the door to awareness, and such awareness can be turned easily into opportunities. Opportunities to improve, live better, and make more money as a freelancer.
3. Tracking your time helps you understand what you should charge
Most freelancers charge too little for the work they complete, and that’s usually because they work more hours than they think.
A time tracker will help you differentiate between “office hours” and “billable hours” as mentioned in the previous section.
And once you know your times, divide your total needed revenue by the total number of billable hours you work in a month to see how much you should be charging by the hour.
For even more information on how to charge your services correctly, take a look at this how-to guide.
4. Keeping track of your time helps you work more efficiently
Finally, tracking your time (even if it doesn’t change what you charge) makes you more aware of where you’re spending your efforts.
I am sure you have noticed there are moments of your workday where you feel like a genius and that everything is possible. But then the opposite happens at other, more frustrating parts of the day.
Time tracking will help you see those flow-state moments (or gaps) and allow you to plan your day so you maximize your efforts.
The same principles also apply to idle time or unconscious habits. Some examples of these habits could be going to the restroom often, checking social media during work hours, or anything that takes up a lot of your time without you knowing.
For example, if you notice you take a 1-hour Netflix break every day at lunch, you can shrink that to a half-hour (or skip it) in order to gain back some billable hours.
How much would you make with 5 extra paid hours per week? If you charge a very reasonable rate of $100/hour, you could make an extra $2,000/mo just by cutting back on one bad habit.
These small actions can add up over time as you literally take control of your time, ensuring your freelance business lasts a long time and you maintain an equal balance between work and life.
How to get started with freelance time tracking
Ok…this is all fine and good. Of course, it makes sense to be tracking your time — even if you don’t charge by the hour.
But you may be wondering, “so, what’s next?” or “how can I actually get started with time tracking as a freelancer?”
Honestly, this is something very simple to implement. In fact, you can probably do it in less time than it took you to read this article. You just need to find a good, reliable time tracker and put it to work.
We suggest you take a look at our time-tracking app — built directly into the AND.CO software.
Not only is it completely free to try, but it also connects to your AND.CO invoicing to automatically send client invoices based on the hours you’re tracking. It’s pretty brilliant.
In addition, you can share your latest time sheets with clients if you so choose and track time from literally anywhere with our desktop or mobile apps.
However you decide to do it, tracking your time can make a huge impact on your productivity, pricing, time-management, and overall output. If you’re not paying close attention to your hours, maybe it’s ‘time’ you did. (I couldn’t help myself.)