I work as a freelance web designer – sometimes it’s big jobs, sometimes it’s little jobs. And whilst I’ve been only truly freelancing for a few months I’ve been working in the industry for over a decade. No matter what you’re doing whether you’re working as employee in company or running your company or you’re freelancer – consistent time tracking is essential.
Ok it’s not quite as essential as say… paying your tax, so you might be able to convince yourself that you can let it slide. But let’s be honest – if you don’t track your time you have no real idea of how your ratio of quoted price vs actual hours worked is going for you – you’re living by the sometimes you win, sometimes you loose rule. I don’t want to try to earn a crust like that – my rule is simply: get paid for every hour of client work you do.
Now, I wouldn’t want to give you the impression that I have been diligently tracking every second of my time on the computer for the last decade! For me time tracking has always been a struggle. For a start it’s bloody tedious and quite easy to forget to do. Especially on the days you’re skipping between one project and the next. However, I have recently found something that works really well for me.
The 88Miles App – Subscription Based
So I found my perfect Time Tracking app. It’s a browser based software which I was hesitant about but heck I have my Chrome open all day long anyway so it hasn’t been a bother. It allows me to invoice correctly for every hour that I spend on a project but also serves as a great way of tracking time that is not spent on client work, i.e. unbillable work like blog posts! Or tracking the amount of time that I spend on charitable/volunteering projects like my work on the school website. It’s called 88 miles (not an affiliate link btw) and yes – there is a monthly subscription cost.
Essentially it’s just a very nicely designed basic timetracker – you add clients and assign them projects, then you click that start button, add a description and a tag and when you’re finished you click the stop button. Aside from all the basics you’d expect it got some great additional features: for instance I love the setup that prompts you to enter your target annual income and helps you work out how many hours you need to work / invoice each day / week / month to achieve that. It’s got some good reporting too which helps you get a better picture of how long projects are taking in general. And I get an email every night that tells me how many hours I’ve worked – I love that! It’s got a well thought out interface combined and it looks great (hugely important for me). For me it’s worth $10 per month.
You might be thinking – you spend $10 a month for that? When you can use a spreadsheet for free? Well yes, this app really works for me and so far has saved me a bundle by making sure I invoice correctly. I am always happy to pay a fair price for a excellent product (that’s a whole another blog post). But your perhaps you are the kind of person who is disciplined enough to use pen and paper or spreadsheet and doesn’t mind the trauma of totting up hours using a calculator or some such technology at the end of a project. Well fair play to you then – you’re saving a tenner a month!
So what works for you?
I am more than happy to pay the $10 a month for a great timetracking tool that actually gets me to consistently track my time! Admittedly I keep my monthly subscriptions for software at a bare minimum but this one is totally worth it for me. What about you? Do you track time using the spreadsheet approach or pen and paper – or have you found a superior time tracking app that you’d like to tell us about? I’d love to know your thoughts…