Time Management for Web Developers

When Paymo was originally conceived, it was simply an internal project to help our designers and coders be more productive by easily monitoring their time. Since then, we’ve added a lot more functionality including project management tools and online invoicing capabilities, but we remain committed to the benefits of time management. When you’re a freelance web developer, your time is literally money. So in the same way you’d manage your money, you need to manage your time if you’re going to be a successful independent web developer.

Here are some of the time management tips we’ve uncovered from our own experience, as well as through talking with Paymo customers. While they’re geared toward web developers, they easily apply to any freelancer or solo professional.

Plan Your Course
You likely know that old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Pretty obvious, right? But as obvious and important as planning is to your freelance success, it’s easy to find reasons to not plan, particularly if the project is small. Do yourself a favor, though – make planning a habit, no matter the size of the project.

Here’s another quote, this time from American heavyweight boxer, Mike Tyson:

“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

With all due respect to Mike (and I really do mean that), that’s precisely why a plan is important. When a project blows up, when a client freaks out, when something happens where you feel like you just got punched in the mouth, you need a reminder of the bigger picture to get back on track. So create plans for your business and your projects so you can keep moving yourself forward.

Cluster Your Time
When you’re a freelance web developer, there are times when multi-tasking is inevitable. We have tools here at Paymo  like Paymo Plus that can help. However, science is beginning to tell us that excessive multi-tasking isn’t as effective as we were once led to believe.

Consider the benefits of time clusters. Basically, time clusters are another form of time planning where you schedule two to three hour blocks of time to accomplish tasks. The purpose is to help focus your time so you can be more efficient and effective.

Cluster around your own natural cycles. If you tend to be more energetic between 9am-12pm, schedule client calls and business development during this cluster. Or if you tend to think better during this time, schedule project work in this cluster. This blogpost offers some additional ideas for creating time clusters.

Choose Your Shortcuts
Time management is also about finding ways to save time. As a web developer, you’re constantly looking for new ways to do more in less time. That’s why shortcuts and cheat sheets are fantastic tools.

If you don’t already have one, create your own shortcuts library. This is a place where you store resources for your most frequently used tools. To get you started, below are links to some excellent cheat sheets we found for design and web development.

Photoshop CS6 Cheat Sheets:
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/photoshop-cs6-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html
http://tv.adobe.com/watch/photoshop-cs6-featuretour/top-10-time-saving-enhancements-to-layers-in-photoshop-cs6/
http://www.designzzz.com/cheatsheets-boost-photoshop-experience/

Colors Cheat Sheets:
http://www.addedbytes.com/cheat-sheets/colour-chart/
http://www.visibone.com/color/hexagon3x.html

HTML & CSS Cheat Sheets:
http://coolhomepages.com/HTML-5-Cheat-Sheets-For-All-Tags-and-Event-Handlers/blog-130.html
http://www.milkaddict.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/css-cheat-sheet-v2.png

Seek Your Happiness
Finally, make your time work for you. Going back to your time clusters, did you insert some time for you in there? Did you create openings to exercise or to read up on the latest web trends or to simply have lunch? If not, do it.

The key to managing your time and growing your business is being selective in what you choose to do. When you begin to feel overwhelmed by the pressure of multiple projects and client expectations, look at your plans. Are you moving in the right direction? If not, it’s never, ever too late to change course.

2 Responses to “Time Management for Web Developers”
  • Good article!

    I agree, planning is very important.

    If you planning :) to improve paymo.biz, I would suggest adding some options for planning.

    Let say create daily to do task list, or weekly, monthly plan, goals for the year (maybe in form of milestones) etc.

    And then option in reports to compare how much of plan is done, what is not done in certain period etc.

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