5 Ways Time Tracking Can Make You a More Productive Freelancer6 min read
We all get 24 hours in a day. That goes for bankers, bakers, and business owners.
How you choose to spend that time can mean the difference between breaking even and breaking six figures.
Whether you think you’re already spending your time well or you think you could find some more efficiencies, time tracking is the proof you need.
It can help you wrangle in your wasted time and make more time for your biggest money-making activities.
For freelancers, time tracking is a game changer. It can help you stay focused, complete your work faster, and get paid faster.
AND CO is the time tracking app that automatically generates your invoices based on your tracked time. It’s crazy easy to use, fast and available on all devices. Did we mention it’s free?
How time tracking can be a productivity booster
It appears everyone’s attention is focused on how distracted we all are.
Most people have heard that the average goldfish has an attention span of less than nine seconds. But did you know humans are now even worse than this? In 2000, an average human’s attention span was 12 seconds. Almost two decades later, our attention span dropped to eight seconds.
Between smartphone home buttons begging to be thumbed, push notifications, the never-ending scrolling potential of social media feeds, and callouts to ‘swipe up’, ‘click now’, or ‘screenshot so you’ll remember later’, it’s tough to stay focused. We get it. You’re not alone.
But if you’re ready to kick these habits to the curb, start time tracking. Seriously.
When you start time tracking, you will:
1. Earn a greater awareness of how you’re spending your time
Many of us think we know roughly how long it takes to complete a certain type of project. That’s how we put proposals and costs together. But at the end of the project, do you reflect on whether it met your expectations? Were you still making a healthy profit or did the project slowly creep into something much bigger?
Time tracking takes the guesswork out and illuminates just how you are spending your hours in the day. You can see if you’re over- or under-estimating the time it takes to do certain tasks. You know exactly how long each project took you and whether you need to quote more for your next project. You have a good understanding of how much work you can fit into each day.
You may be surprised by the results. Let numbers reveal the truth.
If you find you’re spending majority of your time on activities that don’t actually make you money – think invoicing, tracking expenses, client communication, setting up other business processes, or just figuring out which task to do first – then it might be time to think about automating or outsourcing those activities so you can focus on the stuff that brings home the bacon.
2. Hold yourself accountable for wasted time
Time tracking helps hold you accountable for wasted time.
If you get distracted by the latest cat video or freelance meme, generally no one is going to know about it but you, and you’ll quickly forget how much time you whittled away. But when you flick back to work and see the timer ticking away under your client’s project name, you’ll realize that each little twinge of guilt slowly makes you more motivated to stay focused on the tasks that matter. Removing it from that client project and adding it to your time tracking log under ‘surfing the net’ (or better, ‘cat videos’), will be a great reminder of how you are taking away from your profitable activities with these distractions. Plus, it’ll soon give you a good picture of how much of your time is actually wasted each day.
Instead of wondering why you’re not able to take on that extra project or why you’re late for a deadline, you’ll have a clear understanding of the ‘tasks’ that need to be cut from your day.
3. Stay focused on the task at hand
Just knowing that you have a timer running can be a great incentive to stay on task.
Like many people, I work with several tabs open at a time. On my busier days I’ve been known to click into the wrong tab and before I know it I’ve half started another task and forgotten what I was meant to be working on. Simply clicking back to my time tracker helps me stick to getting one task done at a time – in priority order.
Plus, when I know the clock is ticking, I feel like I want to get things done as quickly as possible, so the record will reflect how efficient my day was.
Eventually, you start to relish the feeling of stopping the timer when you complete your task just as much as you love crossing it off your ‘to do’ list.
4. Save time on invoicing
If you need to invoice your client based on the hours you work, chances are you know what it’s like to have to find scribbled notes at the end of the month and piece together how much you need to charge them.
But AND CO’s time tracking app integrates seamlessly with its invoicing software to automatically create invoices for you based on the time you’ve tracked on a project.
Instead of counting up (or, guessing…) how many hours you worked, you’ll know. For sure. And you’ll save precious time on putting your invoices together.
5. Use time constraints to increase your efficiency
Are you someone who works well under pressure? Do you have to have a deadline to finish the work you owe?
You’re going to love time constraints. You set a timer and then work, work, work. For some people, this works really, really well – which is why productivity methods like the Pomodoro technique have become so popular.
If you want to dive in deeper, try compressed time. This is like a race against yourself. Time yourself while you work on a project. Don’t rush or stay any more focused than you normally would. The next time you’re about to get started on a similar project, set a goal to complete the project in 60 percent of the time it took you to originally take care of business. What do your results have to say?
Get started with time tracking
If you’re ready to stop the pull of distraction during the 24 hours that you’ve been given, the first step is getting started with time tracking. You won’t be perfect at it at first. Changing behavior and breaking habits takes time. But though the transition may not be an easy one, it will be worth it.
With time tracking, instead of veering off course, you will find yourself staying committed to the task at hand. Once the clock starts ticking, the possibilities are endless. Who knows how much work you’re about to get done…
As you go about implementing time tracking, avoid these freelance time tracking pitfalls.