Why Freelance Designers Should Track Every Minute of Work: Time Management Tips
Most freelance designers who are just getting started, however talented and seemingly prepared for the independent gig, don’t immediately understand the complexity of freelancing for a living. What soon becomes clear is that having a boss is easy. Being a boss to others is a little more difficult, and being your own boss may be the most difficult managerial position of all. Suddenly, the most evolved design skills aren’t enough and skills like time management, project management and administrative skills become paramount. This often has freelancers feeling like their main area of expertise, the actual design work, takes a back seat. Proper freelance time management and organization are exactly what make the design work possible. To understand what it takes to become a more efficient freelance designer, we need to go over a few time management tips.
Time Management Tips: Schedule
What no one tells freelancers when they’re starting out solo is that they might need some circus skills, like juggling and levitating, along the way.
Toggling several projects and communications with various clients will become a daily occurrence, and you’ll need all the time management tips you can get. Leaving projects hanging in mid air while waiting for approval or action, with every moving piece in place and waiting, will also be required every once in a while.
This is where time tracking comes in, one of the main time management tips that we’ll discuss in this article. Time tracking is essential to freelance time management, which in turn is essential to making any of it work in the long term. Plans tend to look better on paper than they do when implemented in reality. The secret to a well-laid plan is in basing it in reality to begin with.
Using time management tools for nearly everything we do during every work day allows us to see where the time goes and which tasks take what amount of time to complete. This makes managing your schedule a lot easier, but also helps freelancers deal with another frequent issue – deciding on pricing and how to set rates.
Setting Fees (and turning pro)
Needless to say, more experienced freelancers tend to come at higher rates, but it isn’t just due to the extensive and varied portfolios they have to show potential clients. Clients are more willing to pay higher rates for more experienced freelancers mostly because they know there will be fewer snags and time spent on a project.
Most often, clients would like to know that they can hand off a project or assignment and that it will get done in a relatively short amount of time, with minimal mistakes and minimal involvement on their part.
They’re looking for freelance professionals who are efficient and accountable for their work. Perusing the rates and client feedback of other freelancers on networks like Upwork can be helpful in figuring out what you should be charging for specific types of work.
Experienced freelancers come at higher rates because they are more efficient. They tend to work both faster and better, so they aren’t doing less work for the same rate as lower paid freelancers, they’re just accomplishing tasks faster. Part of the “experience” we like to mention and showcase so often is experience with time management tools.
If you’re looking to set higher pro-level rates faster and get more clients to walk through your virtual doors, then be sure to use tools like a work hours tracker and project management apps to organize your workflow, guarantee faster turnaround, and meet deadlines faster than most of your peers. Then you’ll start getting paid what you’re worth.
Streamlining and Growth
Once you’ve set your time tracking and project management tools, you’ll need to take a good look at how things could work more efficiently for both you and your clients.
After all this is done, you’ll notice that you’re ready to simplify some processes, organize others more efficiently, and maybe start hiring other people to help out with the more mechanical side of things.
Project management platforms and deadline scheduling tools are a good start for both individual freelancers and teams, and they both allow collaboration with outside users, in this case clients. These are a great way to keep track of tasks and cut down time spent communicating with team members and clients.
However, what most project management platforms don’t do is tell you how much time was spent on each task. They also don’t help with logging hours, invoicing or paying remote team members. Tapping into excellent time management tools, i.e. those that will enable scaling of human resources and projects, is paramount.
Solutions like Timely allow freelancers to start out individually, then include and manage teams as their business grows, while all-inclusive tools like Qbserve, an automatic work hours tracker for Mac users, include everything from individual time tracking to team management and invoicing.
To prepare for streamlining workflow and better project management, finding the right freelance tools to begin with is essential. Most of these tools have free and paid versions, but when selecting what to use, even for freelancers just getting started, it’s a good idea to think ahead and makes sure these are the time management tools that a freelance career can grow with.