Simple time tracking template boosts freelance productivity

I’m ga-ga for gadgets.

I went Mac a few years back and yes, there’s the cool factor for sure, but, honestly, being Mac-based has increased my productivity. (No more computer churn, not to mention the hours saved just booting up. Seriously.)

Although I occasionally give into a bit of creative laziness, overall I’m a productivity nut—and an avid user of e-tools for list making, efficiency and organization.

And in spite of being paperless as much as possible, there’s one thing I do in my freelance business manually instead of electronically: time tracking.

Oh, sure, I tried using spreadsheets and apps and the like but nothing has been as fast, simple and easy as using a time tracking template.

Because I worked at a top-ranked agency, I learned to track my billable time by client and project.

Here’s how I do it:

  • For each client project or freelance assignment, print a copy of my time tracking template.
  • Fill in the client and project name.
  • Jot down the rate/fee in the upper right corner, noting any maximums that would take the project hours out of scope.
  • When working on a project or assignment, grab the appropriate time tracking sheet and note the start time.
  • Work without distractions until a chosen (or mandated by your schedule) stop time and note the stop time.
  • Tally the hours for that segment of the project in the subtotal column.
  • Carry over the running total in the grand total column.

When it’s time to invoice at month’s end (or project end, as the case might be), gI rab my time tracking sheet, send out my invoice via Quicken and draw a line across the last total on the sheet, writing the word “billed” and the date billed next to it.

Of course, you may prefer to track electronically or with some other tool. But I will tell you that when I discovered this simple method, it rocked my world.

The point is this: track your time.

6 Reasons to Track Your Time:

  1. To keep focused on the work for a period of time and improve productivity.
  2. To stay accountable to your client with a more accurate accounting of billable time.
  3. To manage project milestones and deadlines.
  4. To  estimate costs and time investments for other, similar projects or assignments.
  5. To build an evidence file for tax or accounting purposes.
  6. To identify and eliminate time wasters, detractors and distractions.
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  1. Nick Simons says:

    I also believe that time tracking can surely help boost freelance productivity. Another is time management is essential to freelance. It can help freelance to do more work with less. This way freelance can finish tasks on time and meet deadlines. Managing time effectively can also help freelance to stay focus on tasks, ignore distractions and limit wasted time. Taking regular break can also help you stay focus on tasks in the long run. This way you can relax a bit and refresh mind and body.

    • JanO says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Nick. I’m not familiar with your time tracking software but can personally attest to having my share of time wasters in my day. Finding out what they are and then remedying them is absolutely key to boosting productivity.

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