Adopting time-management tools
Video: Adopting time-management toolsYou need to quantify how you're spending your time, because time is what you're selling and you only have so much of it. Doing so helps you measure your efficiency and it shows your clients where their money is going. I'll often track time for myself when I'm doing something unfamiliar so that I'll be able to estimate work based on that new skill. I'll track time for clients when they've hired me by the hour. Even if they're paying me by the project though, I'll sometimes track my hours for a while, just to be sure that the project will finish on time.
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In this course, author and seasoned freelancer Tom Geller shows you how to prepare for a transition to freelancing. Begin by taking a look at your career goals, the systems that will support you, and proper ways to plan for success. Find out how to marshal your resources, refine your portfolio for presentation to clients, and estimate your costs to avoid any surprises on the financial front. Plus, discover how to create invoices, manage your books and taxes, expand your client base with marketing, and grow your business.
A bonus chapter covers common questions freelancers have when entering the field.
- What is freelancing?
- Defining your career goals
- Funding your startup
- Getting licenses, permits, and insurance
- Setting prices
- Finding work through agencies
- Getting referrals
- Working with time and project management tools
- Increasing your rates
Adopting time-management tools
You need to quantify how you're spending your time, because time is what you're selling and you only have so much of it. Doing so helps you measure your efficiency and it shows your clients where their money is going. I'll often track time for myself when I'm doing something unfamiliar so that I'll be able to estimate work based on that new skill. I'll track time for clients when they've hired me by the hour. Even if they're paying me by the project though, I'll sometimes track my hours for a while, just to be sure that the project will finish on time.
The main tool for tracking time is of course a timer. You don't need anything fancy, and in fact I usually measure my time simply by glancing up at my computer's clock when I start and stop work. I do use a timer for some things though; for example, to see exactly how long it will take me to walkthrough a presentation. It's worth learning to use the timer that's probably already in your phone. The important thing is that you're absolutely religious about using your timer device; whatever it is when you need to keep track of time, just as important is the act of writing your times down.
Again, it doesn't matter where you do it as long as you're consistent and reliable about it. Depending on how I've set up my records for a particular client, I'll keep track of time details in a plain txt document or a spreadsheet, but often I'll just type them directly into the Invoice. My preferred format is fairly simple: Just the Date, an outline of what happened and the amount of Time. I personally bill in 15-minute increments, but you or your client might prefer something else; increments of 60, 30, 10 and even six or five minutes are common.
You'll ultimately use this information when you bill the client. There are fancy time-tracking programs out there including some that actively watch what you're doing on your computer and then fill out a timesheet with the results. Learning those can be somewhat involved and you probably won't need anything that detailed. But if you're curious, Wikipedia has a comparison of time tracking software page that's worth looking at. And of course and online search for time tracking leads you to further information. So that is time-tracking as it relates to client work, but it's actually quite a big subject and lynda.com has courses on both time management and project management that will lead you further.
Taking the time to get these skills is truly worthwhile. They improve your life overall by lowering your stress level and giving you more time to do what you want.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Freelancing Fundamentals .
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- Q: This course was updated on 3/20/2013. What changed?
- A: We added a bonus chapter that covers common questions freelancers have when entering the field, such as "How do I use Craigslist or other job boards to grow my freelance business?" and "How do I find clients?"
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