It takes a lot more motivation and discipline for a freelancer to stay focused, irrespective of the nature of their jobs. While you have the freedom for managing your own time, there are just too many distractions and without a proper time management, you are likely to be in the soup. When you are working for yourself it is imperative to set a schedule and stick to it. You can of course have some flex time but there is no denying to time management skills.
This is where time tracking comes in. Many experience an initial resistance to tracking time, which is normal as it takes some time to change old habits. But there is no way you can overrule the importance of time tracking in project management. To be a successful freelancer, it is crucial to know where your precious time goes and how it affects your work; tracking time helps you in this.
In fact, there are numerous benefits of tracking time. It is not only a smart way to create estimates and invoices but also helps you predicting your behavior and improving your business by simply analyzing how you manage your time. Once you get used to a time tracking tool, you’ll feel more informed and motivated to improve your project management skills.
Here are 6 reasons why freelancers should consider time tracking.
1. Improve Your Workflow
As a freelancer you need to deal with multiple clients at a time. This often requires to simply a process so that you don’t spend way too much time on a project and plan projects smartly to make twice your current earning. For example, after you start tracking your time you suddenly notice that you’re taking more than an hour to research a 500-word article. Such insights will help you notice your areas of improvement and you can start finding new ways to simplify the process.
Tracking time helps you to identify your problems and you can make strategic plans to improve your productivity for next time. Using the data collected over periods of time you can conduct self-studies to understand your time management skills and whether it is helping you reach your business goals.
It is almost impossible to develop a better workflow without tracking your hours effectively.
2. Stop Procrastinating
Using Facebook or Twitter in between work can give a momentary relief but only to make you feel worse later, especially when you run the risk of missing a deadline. Procrastinating is the villain here. According to a study conducted by Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, 20 percent of men and women in the U.S. are chronic procrastinators. Worst still, most procrastinators beat themselves up when they fail to put things off even after repeated attempts.
It is often tempting to leave a work until the last minute and later work hard to finish the job. But have you thought what happens if it takes longer than you expected or even worse, you somehow compromise on the quality in order to meet the deadline.
By tracking time you can not only avoid procrastination but also make smarter decisions. You are aware of the fact that a timer is ticking and this alone will make you careful about wasting a single moment on unnecessary things.
3. Avoid Multitasking
According to a report by American Psychological Association, multitasking causes 40 percent drop in productivity. It further indicates that “multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error.”
Tracking time is a great way to avoid and finally eliminate the habit of multitasking. Why? For that try tracking time when doing multiple things at once. You guessed it right, it is extremely difficult.
The goal of time tracking is to know how much time you are spending on a particular task and since you focus entirely on it, you are less likely to surf the web or check your email or Facebook notifications.
4. Be More Selective with Clients
Time tracking helps you to identify clients that are worth keeping. Almost everyone has one or two clients who demand more time than the average clients without paying extra. These are the clients who send hundreds of emails and/or call up a thousand times every day. They want to know every detail of the project and demand high quality work while paying a lower rate. In short, these clients cost you money instead of earning more.
One way to deal with such clients is to track every moment you spend on their projects and charge them accordingly. Another option is to let them go and look for better paying clients.
5. Make Better Financial Decisions
Underquoting is a major problem with a lot of freelancers. It is often difficult to accurately estimate the time it would take to complete a project. It needs proper knowledge and experience to make right estimates and failing to do so can cost your business real money. Using a time tracking tool helps you to include every single phase of a project in the proposal and you can therefore make better estimates.
In addition, comparing your income and time spent on the projects will help you realize if your business is worth it. After all there is no point doing something that hardly helps you to meet the end. Besides, such insights will help you understand areas that you could improve about your business.
For example, a developer can compare if building a site from the scratch is a better option or buying a template and customizing it will serve his/her purpose better in terms of time and hourly rates.
6. Know When to Delegate Tasks
Even freelancers need to delegate their tasks, although they don’t usually like it. As a freelancer you need to do a lot of things, ranging from preparing proposals and sending invoices to reaching out to new clients, marketing your business and working on projects.
But the reality is that it is hardly impossible for one person to accomplish them all well. It therefore makes complete sense to delegate tasks that you are not good at. A developer, for example, can hire a designer to get help with the design instead of wasting time on it. Similarly, a digital marketer can hire the services of a professional writer for all content he/she needs. This will ensure the quality of the work, while staying true to the deadline.
It makes financial sense as well. For instance, if you charge $100 an hour and a particular task take 3 hours for you to complete, we’re talking about $300 that is chargeable to your client. Now, you can hire a pro who takes 2 hours to do the same work and save $100. In other words, you are earning $100 without doing anything and on top of that have 3 more billable hours to do things you are good at and increase your earning.
In a nutshell, tracking your time helps you to increase your business revenue. It also establishes you as a trustworthy professional. You can use your time wisely and work on your own terms with better time management. This not only increases your revenue but also gives you more opportunity to spend quality time with your family and loved ones and/or to follow other interests.
Image credit : halogensoftware.com