If you work as a freelancer, you might not have an HR department keeping tabs on your time, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to track it. If you work as a freelancer long enough, tracking your time can save you money. Thankfully, there are several ways that you can track your time as a freelancer so you know precisely where your hours are going and whether or not you should take another job.
Knowing how much time you spend on projects is especially important if you bill by the hour or have a client paying for your services. The sooner you know how much time each project takes, the less likely you are to stay late working on something or rush through another just to meet your deadlines and get paid sooner.
How to Track Your Time as a Freelancer
Working as a freelancer means being accountable for many things other employees simply don’t have to think about until they decide to work independently. Tracking your time and staying organized can be essential to maintaining both personal and professional success.
A Freelance Trackers Tool of Your Choice
One way to track your time as a freelancer is to use a specialized time-tracking tool. Many time-tracking apps are available on the market, including programs designed specifically with freelancers in mind.
These apps can help you keep track of your time even when you’re not working, which can help you plan your day more effectively. They can also help you ensure that you’re billing clients for all of the time you spend working on their projects, whether in the office or working remotely. In addition, many of these apps allow you to add notes and tags to your time entries, which can help you organize your time better and be especially helpful if you work on multiple projects at once.
You don’t necessarily have to track working time if you work with clients who give you a fixed price for each project. Instead, you can estimate the time that task is expected to take and base your invoices accordingly. Estimating time, however, can be tricky, especially if you’re new to freelancing.
If you struggle to get accurate time estimates, consider tracking your time for at least a few weeks. That can help you better understand how long specific tasks take, making future time estimates more accurate. Also, remember that you should always inform clients that you may have to adjust your initial estimates if you find that specific tasks take more or less time than expected. That lets clients know you’re aware of the situation and gives them a heads-up on potential billing adjustments.
If you’re using a time-tracking app, you can also save time by reviewing your time entries each week. That can help you keep track of how much time each task takes, and it can also help you see which projects are taking up most of your time.
You may find that some projects take up more time than others, which can help you stay focused on the most critical tasks. You can also use your weekly review to adjust your billing if you notice that certain tasks are taking longer to complete.
Use a Spreadsheet to Track your Time
If you don’t want to use a timer or an app to keep track of your time, you can use a spreadsheet to log your hours. This may seem a bit old school compared to the other methods mentioned above, but it can still be effective in helping you track your time.
Ideally, you’ll want to make a spreadsheet that includes columns for each project you’re working on and a column where you can enter the hours that the project took up. You can also add a column that tells you how many hours you have left on each project, which can help you stay on track and keep yourself from getting behind on your deadlines.
Track your Time with a Diary
If you want to track your time as a freelancer but don’t feel like using a timer or logging your hours in a spreadsheet is the best way to go about it, you can try keeping a diary. This may sound antiquated, but it can be an effective way to track your time if you’re diligent about logging your hours.
Be sure to note the date and project name next to each entry so you can keep everything organized. You can also use your diary to note how many hours you spend on certain projects. This can help you stay on track when it comes to billing your clients and submitting accurate time sheets.
Track your Time with Invoicing Software
Invoicing software can help you keep track of your time, too. This can be especially helpful if you work with clients who pay you a fixed rate. You can use this software to keep track of how much time each project takes and provide your clients with an estimate of how many hours you expect each task to take.
You can also use it to generate and send invoices and track payments you receive from clients. This can help you keep track of your finances and ensure you get paid for all your work time.
Popular Ways to Track Your Time as a Freelancer
There are many different time-tracking apps that you can use. However, there are some that are more popular than others when it comes to freelancing. Here are a few of the biggest and best time-tracking apps you can currently use:
One of the most popular ways to track your time is with a timer app like Toggl. This app is available for desktop and mobile and integrates with many other programs to help you track time better.
Toggl is one of the most robust time-tracking solutions on the market, making it an excellent choice for freelancers who have clients they need to bill or other businesses that rely on accurate time tracking. The app allows you to track time by project, client, and even location if you need to account for working remotely.
Toggl can also track where you spend your time, so you don’t have to wonder if a certain task is worth the hours you spend on it, helping you stay focused on the most important tasks. When you’re ready to stop working for the day, Toggl can also function as a stopwatch to help you track your hours accurately. And the next day, it can turn into a timer once again.
If you bill for the hours you spend working on each project, you’ll want to ensure those hours are legit. One way to do this is to use your Google Calendar (or another calendar app) to track your time. While you’re working, use a timer to keep track of how long certain tasks take.
When you’re done for the day, write down the total hours spent on each project so you know how long each job took. This can help you keep track of which projects took how long. It can also help ensure that your time is accurately tracked when you bill your clients.
If you work with any clients who pay based on the number of hours you work, you may have to submit time sheets. Your calendar can help you keep track of the hours you worked on each project, making timesheets much easier to complete.
As a freelancer, tracking your time is essential to staying organized. Several ways you can do this effectively include using a timer app, writing down your hours in a calendar, or logging your time in a spreadsheet. By tracking your time, you can better manage your projects and bill your clients accurately while keeping a well-balanced work life and avoiding the dreaded burnout effect.