4 Unusual Ways to Use Time Tracking Apps
Time tracking software is one of the single most important tools in a freelancer’s kit. Without the ability to accurately measure the time spent on a client project, invoices are based on guesses, or worse still, the number of hours you’d like to get paid for — regardless of whether you put in the work.
And while fudging such numbers may be profitable in the short-term, it’s no good for your long-term relationship with your client. Such things become obvious pretty quickly, and your reputation and integrity goes on the line. With the web, reputations linger longer than ever before.
But ensuring your invoices are dead accurate is only one of the useful ways that you can make use of time tracking apps. Sure, it’s the only intended usage, but that’s never stopped anyone from getting creative.
When you need to complete a task and you’re facing a high level of mental resistance, setting a countdown is a great way to motivate yourself and get out of that rut.
You can give yourself a certain number of minutes to complete that task, start the count on your time tracker, and try and complete the task before the clock hits your target. This is a highly effective method that one implementation of it even has its own name — the Pomodoro Technique.
There’s software available specifically for this purpose, but you can use Paymo’s time-tracker to similar affect without dishing out for another app.
If you’d like to take a closer look at the way you spend your time, start tracking everything you do. Taking a few minutes to surf the web? Track it. Having a quick coffee break? Track it. Whether it’s a business task or you’re doing something personal, track everything and keep specific records.
At the end of the day you can get a feel for where you’re misusing your time. By the end of the week, you’ll start to see some real trends. Even if you think you’re pretty efficient, you might be surprised by what the cold, hard facts reveal — and you might be even more surprised by how much productive time you can reclaim.
You should be tracking the time you spend on every business task, regardless of whether you bill by the hour or by the project. Particularly when your business is new or you’re simply new to tracking your time, your price estimates can be way off base. Since your per-project pricing is probably based off an hourly estimate, you might find you are undercharging well below your ideal hourly rate when those projects routinely take longer to achieve.
Having a better understanding of how long each task you complete in your day to day work takes makes optimizing your estimates a much simpler job without the guesswork. Over time, your estimates will become better informed by reality and history until you get the art of estimating down to a science.
Tracking time in order to improve your estimates for a job is one thing, but how do you factor in administrative work overheads?
Every business, freelance or otherwise, requires you to spend time keeping the books, working through your inbox and performing other tasks that don’t belong on any particular client’s invoice. But in order to spread the cost of these hours between all your clients fairly, you need to know how much of your time is going to be spent on those tasks.
Ensure that you don’t just track the tasks you complete for clients and get those administrative tasks recorded as well. After a few weeks, calculate how much your admin work costs you based on your ideal hourly rate compared to your billable hours, and alter your hourly rate to compensate.