Part Two: The trickiest parts of being a freelancer are...

Freelance Time Management Part Two: Keeping Track

Yep, still talking about time management here. 

I am someone who has a hard time sticking to the rules. Ok I said it! And so a lot of the tips I have heard about managing my time don't really work well. How can you be scheduled but flexible (while being efficient)?

My workflow is a bit of a mess. But to me it is a mess with a purpose, and as long as I keep track of what I am doing and use some of the time management methods I am sharing in these posts, I stay happy, engaged, AND productive! 

Have you ever had a day where you look back and say "what the heck did I even do all day"? I have had those days (*ahem* weeks). When you freelance, the only person you have keeping track of your time (mostly) is you! At the end of the day or week, it would be nice to look back and see exactly how much time you spent doing what, so that you can re-evaluate and plan for the next week, right? It is so important to me to stay efficient yet flexible, and here is how I do it!

Some people use a calendar and plan out exactly what they will do for the day ahead of time, but I can never seem to stick with that. Inspiration will strike, or an old project will call my name, so I want to have some wiggle room, but stay mostly on track. To do this, I use an app called Hours Time Tracking. It is free, but you can upgrade to the Pro version if you want more features. For now, the free version is enough for my needs. One really cool feature is that Hours can link with Freshbooks if that is a software that you use. I will be honest, the app isn't fancy, and the process of setting up categories took me a second to figure out, but once I did figure it out, the rest was easy. The way it works is: you have a page that has a timeline of the day at the top. You can tap a place on the timeline to add a block of time you worked, and adjust the start and end times. Or, you can tap another button and it will set a timer. There is a reporting option, so at the end of the week you can send yourself a PDF detailing when you worked, and keep it for your records. If you are like me and juggle many different aspects of a business, it has a great feature for that, too! You can set multiple timers and accounts. For instance, I have, among others, one for networking, one for social media and marketing, one for my online store, and one for making the actual art. There is a "notes" section in each time block so you can remind yourself what project or account you were working on during that time, too.

This app can be really helpful, especially if you bill by the hour. I bill by hour and/or by project, so mostly it is just for my records and to help me be more efficient and organized. There are a few such apps in the App Store- I tried Toggl, and while I think it was a bit more user-friendly than Hours, it kept glitching and messing up my records. Let me know in the comments if you use a similar app, I love trying different ones! 

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