If you are a freelancer and sell your time for a living, time is money. Thus, time tracking is of supreme importance. If you are still skeptical, here are ten reasons why freelancers must track their time.
1. Avoid Human Error
We are all imperfect human beings; we all make mistakes. However, tracking your time can help you to have records so that you avoid messy estimations and lost billable time.
Here I am going to have to go off on a tangent and vote for contemporaneous time tracking. Tracking time while you work is widely considered the best practice. It gives you the most accurate portrayal of how you are spending your time. Liberal estimates are dishonest, even if they are accidental. However, overly-conservative estimates could be costing you a lot of money.
2. See Where Your Time Goes
Many freelancers work on different projects throughout the day. After spending thirty minutes working on one project, two hours on another, ten minutes to fix the toilet, and forty-five minutes on correspondence or personal tasks, your day may begin to feel fragmented. Keeping track of how you spend your time will help you to know whether or not you are really staying on track.
3. Feel Legit, Be Legit.
Not only will time tracking help you feel more proffessional personally, it will also help you to act more professional with your clients. Time tracking can help you be precise when you are invoicing time spent to your customers. If clients complain or challenge your prices, you have solid records to back you up. These records will come in handy in a number of situations from compliance claims to asking for a raise.
4. Improve Estimates
Tracking your time may be the best way to learn more about how you work and how much time you need. This will help you to give better predictions to clients before you start work on projects. In the end, both you and your client have more realistic expectations.
Recent research seems to indicate that we are just not as good at multitasking as we think we are. In fact, multitasking could be really hurting our brains and businesses.
Freelancers can easily be distracted by multitasking. Knowing you have a timer ticking for one particular task, forces you to focus on one thing at a time.
6. Learn When and Where to Delegate
When you track your time, you can figure out which tasks and projects just aren’t worth it. For example, you may realize that you are wasting time on a project that isn’t generating revenue and not spending enough time on your priority tasks. By comparing revenue to time spent, you can figure out how to spend your time wisely.
7. Know Thyself
Perhaps you work best in the wee hours of the morning. Or maybe you find that you can’t get anything done before 10am no matter how hard you try. What if a certain kind of work just clicks between 3pm and 5pm? By tracking your time extensively, you may be able to find patterns in your work flow. When are you most productive in different ways? You can learn your body, your habits, and thus become happier and more productive.
8. Improve Your Methods
By tracking time you can figure out where your problems are and improve yourself for next time. Over long periods of time, you can conduct self-studies to see how much time you spend corresponding, on average, before landing a project or look into whether the way you are spending your time is helping you reach your long term goals. The better you track your time, the more high quality data you have to work with.
9. Increase Responsibility
When you are tracking your time, you are more aware of it. As you go through your day knowing that somewhere nearby a timer is ticking, you are more likely to be careful about wasting moments on unnecessary things. At the very least, having a timer ticking should make you think twice before rechecking your Facebook page.
10. Stay Motivated
As a freelancer, your schedule and habits are probably more flexible than the average employee. How much you work and how you schedule (or don’t schedule) your day is pretty much up to you, so you have to be self-motivated.
Tracking your time offers an objective way to see just how productive you are and helps to keep you on track through your days, weeks, months, and years. Tracking progress and noting improvement can encourage you to continually work to become the best freelancer you can be.