If you’re anything like me, one of the benefits of working for yourself is that you don’t owe anyone else your time. No time cards, no clock-punching. Just you and your own decision to get working. But being free of a 9-to-5 job doesn’t mean that time tracking won’t be beneficial to you. I highly recommend that ALL freelancers track their time because it can give you some truly invaluable insights into your business and efficiency.
Just because you don’t have to punch the clock for someone else, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it for yourself. If you want to improve your productivity and build a stronger freelance writing business (even turn it into a content marketing firm one day), then time tracking should be on your to-do list.
What is time tracking?
Time tracking is EXACTLY what it sounds like—it’s the act of tracking your time on everything you do for your business to pinpoint efficiencies and keep yourself on track.
Tracking everything means logging:
- Administrative tasks
- Client work
- Marketing and promotional time
You can even log time spent coming up with new brilliant ideas.
Why should freelancer’s track time?
It seems weird that I would suggest that someone who works for themselves and owns their own time STILL tracks it. But time tracking can be incredibly powerful for entrepreneurs.
You wear a ton of hats, and it’s really important that you spend your time wisely on the things that actually make you money. But how are you supposed to know where you’re spending your time if you never track it.
Find out where you’re spending time
There are a lot of things that you need to do, so where are you spending your time? That’s where time tracking comes in.
While there are a lot of spin-off goals and things that tracking your time can do for you and your business, your main focus is going to be figuring out how you’re actually spending time.
Tracking everything from your brainstorming sessions to your billable time can help you figure out where your efforts are being spent. How much time are you really spending on your accounting versus your marketing, and how much should you be?
Increase your productivity
Once you know where you’re spending your time, it’s time to figure out whether or not you’re being productive. What is productivity? Spending your time wisely and making sure you’re focused where you should be.
If you find out you’re spending way too much time on things that you shouldn’t be, it’s time to figure out how to get those off your plate. Sometimes that means hiring some help, like a virtual assistant. Other times that means figuring out where you can add an automation that will save you time.
Time tracking means you know what you’re doing and how long it’s taking. Knowing that makes it obvious when you’re doing something you shouldn’t be or spending too much time on things that aren’t making you cold, hard cash.
Figure out how much to bill
Chances are you’ll struggle with your pricing scheme when you first start out. Honestly, it’s hard to figure out how much people should be paying for your services because there are so many factors to take into account.
Now, I HATE billing hourly. I truly believe that people need to pay you for a service and your skills, not purchase your hours because it’s not that different than having a regular old boss. But time does need to factor into your pricing.
When you’re figuring out your pricing scheme (or raising your prices) it can be incredibly helpful for you personally to know how much everything takes you to create. That way you can pay yourself fairly.
As an added bonus, it also helps you figure out approximately how much time you have to put in to bill a certain amount, and how much time you have leftover in your week to put towards other activities.
Best FREE time tracking apps
Everyone that I know recommends Toggl because they have a free version that’s pretty robust. The truth is, I used Toggl for years until I found an error between mobile and desktop tracking and switched to Clockify out of frustration. However, as it turns out it seemed like a little glitch in the programming and I recently switched back because I love the modern interface.
You can use Toggle for free for up to five users in your organization, which is more than a lot of apps offer for nothing. A free account gives you access to:
- Time tracking
- Importing and exporting data
- Integrations with your favourite apps
Plus, the interface is a modern purple, you can manage multiple clients and products and really get a sky-high view of your writing practice. Plus, as is always important to me, they do have a mobile and tablet app available.
Clockify is 100 percent free. There is no option to purchase anything extra, which means you get access to the full suite at no cost for you. That makes it a GREAT choice for those just starting their writing practice.
Whether you’re freelancing for clients or you’re drafting the next great Canadian novel, Clockify is an excellent choice for those looking for something simple and totally free. You get access to:
- A timer
- The ability to edit entries
- Adding billable time
- Create projects and clients
Plus, Clockify has a mobile app for those that like to track on the go. But their mobile app is limited, so make sure you check it out before committing!
How to start time tracking
Now that you’ve decided you’re going to record your time and you’ve picked the best time tracking app for your business, then it’s time to start actually doing the work.
You’ll want to:
- Input your clients and projects
- Enter a quick descriptor of what you’re doing
- Start tracking
It’s as simple as that!
Then once a week or even once a month, check in on your time report and see how you’re spending your precious hours and adjust as needed.
Time tracking is an easy way to improve the productivity of your business and get more done. So, why not start today?
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