Manage Your Time to Reap Bigger Profits – A Freelancers’ Guide

Freelancers are those who work from their own comfort zone: be it home or a public café, they can work from any space of their choice. Freelancing, therefore, comes with many advantages, such as flexibility of working space and environment, flexibility of time, and so on. However, many responsibilities come with your decision to freelance.

When you work in an office, everything is arranged for you, including your system and timelines, but when it comes to freelancing you need to handle all these responsibilities. Being a freelancer sounds easy and is tempting along with its striking benefits; but it is not as flowery as it seems.

You have to arrange your own working environment and the tools for your work. You have to manage your own time and how you work. While basic stuff like working space, system, and Internet environment are organized in the beginning of the work, many freelance ignore one of the most important factors of freelancing organizing your freelancing time. Salaried staff generally work an eight- or nine-hour day, along with a log in and log out schedule. This is not the case for freelancers, who have to arrange their own set of work and schedule their own process of time.

Time is the most flexible part of freelancing but if it is not handled properly, this benefit might work against you. You might assume that as working time is flexible you can handle it very easily, but this is the most complex task within freelancing. This article will discuss how to organize your time as a freelancer and the importance, advantages, and disadvantages of time management.

Before delving deeply into the importance of organizing time and ways to achieve it, let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing time. When you are working as a freelancer, the benefit of the work comes with your time. You can choose to work any time of your day. If you feel comfortable working early morning, you can do that; or you can work late at night if you prefer. However, it is beneficial to organize your time accordingly from the beginning so you do not face any problems with your work in future. You might think that as you have the option of flexibility of working time you can work any time and complete your pending work, but this is not practically possible until you organize and divide your freelancing time properly. One of the disadvantages of freelancing is that you have to keep track of your time by yourself, unlike working at the office where you will have a complete record of work time. Therefore, try to organize your freelancing time so you complete your work and submit it correctly on time. Below we discuss the importance of organizing freelancing time and tips on how to do so effectively.

Importance of Organizing Time

instantShift - Importance of Organizing Time

Freelancers can work from their own space at flexible times. But unless they organize their freelancing time, they will fail to organize their work and therefore will not achieve success in freelancing. Freelancers have the advantage of working from home, but there are many distractions, such as family issues and entertainment options. You might think you will work from a certain time but many personal issues might hinder you from completing your work. Therefore, it is very important to organize your time and maintain it strictly so you can complete your work on time and submit it by the due date. Unless you divide time separately for work and play, you will not be able to cut it as a professional freelancer. If you fail to make this division, an imbalance could arise between both your personal and business life, and create a heavy loss for you. So, be sure to divide your time properly between your work and personal life and maintain it strictly so the one doesn’t overlap the other. This is important and beneficial for your work and leisure life.

If you are a freelancer, your friends and family might assume you can join them for shopping or other activities as you have flexibility in working time. However, that is not always true, so maintain your freelancing time strictly and define it to your relations as well. While working, a marriage or party invitation from a friend might distract you from work; on the other hand, you will not enjoy a work call during your play time. Thus, division of time for both lives is necessary. Now let’s understand below how to organize freelancing time.

Organizing Freelancing Time

As mentioned above, organizing freelancing time is very important to achieve success. When you work as a freelancer, you either get the work on a project basis or on a regular basis. Now, although you have the choice of working during any hours of the day, make a schedule for yourself regarding your working time. Suppose your work requires a dedication of seven or eight hours. Schedule the time from 9 to 6 and take a break in between, as breaks are very important to stay healthy.

If you prefer working late at night, start in the evening. Although you choose your own working time, you will be using a regular routine to maintain your time lines. This will help you to complete your work on time. Also, remember to clarify your working hours with your employer. If you need to send a report every day based on your work, ensure that the timing of your report is consistent with your employer’s needs. If it isn’t, confusion might result. Therefore, be clear about your time lines with your employer and yourself. Here are few points that need to be followed in order to organize your freelancing time properly.

  • Schedule your freelancing time: Make a schedule of your freelancing time and organize your working hours. You can make a shift change in your time but maintain a schedule from the start to the end of work for a day.
  • Maintain a regular regime: Follow your schedule strictly and do not compromise with it unless any emergency arises. Make your friends and family understand the seriousness of your work and the need to follow it strictly.
  • Record your time: Make use of desktop widgets or an alarm clock to record your time, which will help you organize your freelancing efficiency.
  • Clarify working hours: Clarify your working hours to your employer so no confusion arises regarding the time you submit your reports.
  • One job at a time: Try to complete one job at a time. If you are confident of handling more than one job at a time, make sure you divide the time for each separately, so one doesn’t affect the other.

These points will help you to organize your freelancing time and help you to work on your project in an organized manner. However, there will be times when you need to stretch your regular time and work harder on some project. Such times are part of professional life and every professional needs to accept this. Importantly, make sure you take breaks and maintain your health regularly.

Tracking Freelancing Time

While organizing time helps you to set your work time properly, you also need to keep track of your freelancing time. While there will be seniors or reporting managers having a record of your work times if you work in an office, freelancers have to manage this responsibility themselves and track their own hours. Let’s understand the benefits of tracking freelancing time.

instantShift - Tracking Freelancing Time

  • Help with budgets: For freelancers working hours count as money; therefore, tracking time helps with your budgets. When you have a record of your utilization of every hour of work, you can mention it in your budget or invoices and thus gain benefits in your payments. This helps in the process of freelancing, the idea of which is to make money.
  • Help in estimating time for work: When you are aware of the fine details of your work times, you can acknowledge how much time is required for a certain job. This helps you to understand how much time a job or a project requires and help you in your future judgment of time division per work item. When you start a job, initially it takes a longer time; however, when you are familiar with the flow, the job can be completed in less time and with less control. In such cases, your controlled time is the correct or exact time to be used for future decisions.
  • Help to realize the exact time: In the process of tracking freelancing time, many freelancers make the mistake of recording the extra time of work. Suppose you are using software for working on a project, the time required to install the software is the extra time that must be tracked. If you are a writer, the time taken to produce an article includes time taken for research and arranging files that need to be tracked. Thus, tracking time helps one to realize the exact time.
  • Help you decide time for future projects: Tracking freelancing time will enable you to get the exact time required for the completion of a job. This will help you to enter into time commitment much confidently and correctly for your future projects. Thus, tracking time helps you decide the amount of work you can complete within a certain time for future projects.

Methods of Tracking Time

There are many ways to track your freelancing time. These range from using a paper and pen to Web widgets. You can use a paper and pen to record your time or you might use a stopwatch. There are many options available for recording freelancing time. Here are few basic ways of recording freelancing time.

Manual methods of tracking time:

  • Using a paper sheet: Making an entry on paper regarding the start and end timelines for a particular work is a simple way of tracking freelancing time.
  • Using a spreadsheet: You can use spreadsheets or Google docs for recording your freelancing time.
  • Using a stopwatch: You can make use of a stopwatch to determine the time taken for a particular job.
  • Using email suites: You can use your email suites, where times are recorded with each entry.
  • Using calendar features: You can use calendar features to track your time for a project and set alarms if required.

The above-mentioned methods of tracking time are basic and simple, but all of them need a lot of manual work and therefore involve more time. There are also many web applications specifically designed for recording time and work. Such applications reduce human effort and make it easier for one to record working time. Downloadable desktop widgets are also available on the Internet to fulfill this requirement. There are thousands of downloadable free applications on the Internet. Others are available for a free trial period, while a few others are available at an affordable price. Below are a few popular Web sites that provide Web applications for recording working hours.

Web applications for tracking time:

instantShift - Web applications for tracking time

  • Getharvest provides monthly tracking of work time and expenses and many other accounting features. This site offers this application with limited features free. Besides these, monthly plans are available for using the applications.
  • Tickspot is another application for tracking time. This is an application designed with RSS project tracking, which records and tracks time of work, reports, and so on.
  • Basecamphq is one of the most useful and popular applications for tracking time. It is a complete project-management system that offers time-clocking features and recorded time reporting.

These Web applications help you to track your time and record it for future referrals and benefits. There are many benefits of tracking your freelancing time. It is particularly important for freelancers who are paid for working hours to track time for budgeting, invoicing, and accounting reports. We briefly discuss these issues in the next section.

When you track your reporting time, you can have a record of the exact time taken for a particular job. You will be able to divide and schedule your job accordingly with the help of that record. Freelancing can require lots of work with commitments, and a failure to complete it due to lack of proper time management will hamper your reputation. When you track time for a particular job you get an idea of the exact time required to complete the job. This helps you to be firm and confident about your ability to complete a job within a certain time, which helps you deliver your commitments to a client. It is beneficial to consider one job at a time and finish it first. If you take on more than one job, divide the time between two jobs separately and be strict about maintaining the timelines for each. Organize your time for each job properly; this will enable you to meet your deadlines for submission. Also, track your time from the beginning of a job because if you delay it, you might end up avoiding it and incur future losses. Therefore, make a habit of tracking your time from the beginning of freelancing itself.

One of the greatest advantages of tracking time is that it gives you the exact time required for a particular job. As an example, it takes long hours to install a CMS, but the time mentioned by your client is less. In such cases, tracking your time helps you make clients understand the time requirement for a particular job. If you are doing a freelance job designing a user interface, and the time estimated by you is less than the job requires, you might fail to complete your commitments on time. In such cases, tracking time helps you to get the right estimate for a particular job. Some freelancing jobs take longer initially, but less time after you become familiar with them.

Suppose you are a freelance writer and get a project writing articles of 500 words. When you start with the first few articles you might take 45 minutes to one hour for an article but once you are familiar with the flow, you can complete one article within half an hour. In such cases, half an hour will be your exact time for a particular job. You can realize this estimate properly only by tracking the time the job takes. If you don’t track your time, you may fail to count the extra time required by a job. When estimating the time taken to write an article, some freelancers fail to count the time taken for research and arranging the files. The complete estimated time should include the time from which you started researching and arranging the files. Such minute details can be recorded only when you track your time professionally following proper methods. Thus, tracking time has lots of benefits.

These are important factors to follow while organizing freelancing time. You need to track and record your estimated work time and arrange a schedule. When you schedule your time for a job, make sure you put it in as continuous work. Such a way of organizing work helps you to complete a job properly on time and deliver quality work. As you have the benefit of deciding your own time of working you might make a luxury out of this benefit. Suppose you are required to dedicate nine hours a day to your work. You might get the idea of working for three hours and then doing some other job and coming back to the job again later. This will lead to confusion by distracting you from the job, and your quality of work will be hampered. Therefore, try to work for continuous hours, as it will make you concentrate on the particular job. If you are a morning worker, start early morning and finish by evening; if you are a night worker, start your work by afternoon and finish it by night. But try to maintain continuity; otherwise, you will not be able to focus properly, which will result in unwanted problems. However, make sure that you take proper breaks to get relaxed and refreshed during work. These considerations will help you to keep your time organized and follow up with it. Below are the summarized points discussed in the article, which includes tips to organize your freelancing time.

  • Separate time for work and play
  • Tracking work time
  • Schedule time for work and follow it strictly
  • Organize continuity in freelancing time

These are the important points one needs to follow to organize freelancing time for successful results. The aim of organizing freelancing time is to submit your work before the estimated deadline. Following the above-mentioned points will help you achieve that aim. Keep backups for every job to avoid problems in future. Organize your time and follow it properly from the beginning of a project so you complete your work on time and avoid a last-minute rush. You will be counted as a professional and reliable freelancer only when you maintain the quality and quantity of work done within the estimated timeline. This is possible only with proper time management. Thus, to manage your freelancing works, start by organizing your freelancing time and follow it efficiently to be a successful freelancer.

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  1. In the time I’ve been working as a freelance designer I have found that managing my time while working from home is the most difficult thing. It is always great to read tips/guides from the people that know more than yourself.

    • This is the only hurdle you have to overcome! Organizing and following routine can help you with this.

  2. Wow… thanks for great resources and tips for keeping track of time. I will definitely incorporate them on the work that is hourly based. I find myself jumping between various projects so keeping track of time may not be that easy for a non-linear worker. That being said, I keep track of most of my project tasks using this online application bizpadpro – I love it because it is a central place for me to keep track of all the tasks I need to do as well as my VA.

  3. Nice n worthy article for the freelancers! good to see this pretty nice posting!

  4. BasecampHQ has undergone a sea of change and has a new product called Basecamp (

    The new interface is so much cleaner and more intuitive.. I just signed up for a plan at Simply doesn’t get better than this..

  5. I would like to recommend for manage time & project effectively.

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