Learn why we think a time-tracking tool is essential for all online freelancers, entrepreneurs and digital nomads and what the perfect software looks like, so that you can run your business efficiently.
If you don’t already know, a time tracking tool is an application or piece of software which you use to log the hours you’ve worked.
As freelancers we need to keep on top of our workload and cash flow. We believe time tracking tools can be invaluable for both personal and client projects as they allow you to see the big picture of each project, but also drill down into the details.
Time Tracking software will typically have a timer you can use to clock your hours in real time, with start/stop buttons and adjustable inputs. You can label your different projects and clients and keep your work organised, seeing exactly how much time you’ve spent on each and how much you’re earning in return. These features help you streamline your project management and finance admin.
Whether you’re new to tracking time, freelancing in general or consider yourself a time tracking veteran, you might find a dedicated time tracking tool will make your business much more efficient.
In this article we’ll discuss some of the key features and benefits of why you should be tracking your time as a freelancer, and what to look for in a time tracking tool.
Without a time tracking tool you might be penciling down notes on all your projects, writing down your stop and start time and not taking into account unexpected breaks or extra hours. Maybe you’re a bit more organised and do this on excel or perhaps you just wing it with mental arithmetic and hindsight.
A time tracker can provide security for freelancers. Security in the knowledge of exactly how much time you’ve spent on each project.
The simplest workflow is to hit start, do your work and then hit stop. If you prefer you can input the start/end times at the end of your session, and the time is added up automatically. Some apps will prompt you periodically and ask if your timer should still be running or even notify you when you’ve forgotten to start the timer.
Having this much accuracy and automation means you don’t have to waste time doing calculations yourself and can relax knowing your numbers are tight.
Less admin means more free time doing the things you love, and more time doing the work that actually pays the bills.
If you track all of your time at work in a time-tracking tool, you can uncover trends in where your time is actually being spent. Knowing this allows you to maximise your profitability by cutting down on those low-income tasks.
These insights also allow you to make smarter pricing decisions. They allow you to refine your estimates and make more money while impressing your clients.
Guesswork is not professional. If you’re time-tracking isn’t accurate you risk either overcharging your client, or underpaying yourself. Neither are ideal for long term business relationships.
Clients like facts, figures and updates.
There are a few ways to solve this problem. Here at RemoteOne we’ve created real-time project dashboards, which allow your clients to see what’s been done and how long it took compared to your estimate.
However, we believe in trust and autonomy and don’t think having clients watching your every move with periodic screenshots or idle detection is effective, nore necessary.
With tools like RemoteOne you can show your client as little or as much as you want. Clarity, for both you and client alike, no monitoring or big brothering. This helps to build a more trusting and transparent relationship with your clients.
Some time tracking apps have built-in invoicing. Typically you can create a new invoice with a few button clicks, pulling in all of the time slips since your last invoice.
If you’ve been creating invoices manually then this will be a game changer for you and save you hours of data entry per year. Plus, all the calculations are made automatically, and they’re usually formatted nicely so you can simply send a PDF off to your client.
Many time tracking tools will also have a payment system built in. Either direct or by using Paypal for example. RemoteOne has live, online invoices with an integrated Stripe payment pop-up. This allows your clients to pay instantly right from the invoice web page saving both of you time.
This brings us to money and being paid for your hard work. When you guess the time spent on a project, the margin for error is huge, and huge errors can mean missing finances.
Every time you go over budget or spend time doing non-billable work, you’re losing out.
Answer yourself these questions - If you take the time to assess your projects and business in this way you could optimise your workload, save time, make more money and keep clients happier.
A time tracking tool designed for freelancers can help you do this! Get the data you need and start running your business like a pro. No more underselling yourself or working long hours for no reward.
We won’t go so far as to say it’s fun—though some nerds (ehem, like us) might think so. But a freelance time tracking tool does give you peace of mind.
Peace of mind that everything is in one place. That you don’t have to do lots of admin, that everything is accounted for and secure. You have the tools to optimise your workflow and see all your time calculated immediately and clearly.
Running a freelance business can be stressful and it’s a big weight off your shoulders to know you’re getting paid accurately for your time.
A time tracking tool works. Works for you, not the other way around. Anything that makes your life easier is satisfying, and can even be fun. A time tracking tool is like being handed a Phillips head where before you’d been improvising with a butter knife. You’ll soon wonder how you were getting by without one.