When you’re a freelancer, no one is looking over your shoulder to see how you’re spending your time. You’re the boss of how you get things done. While this can give us a great sense of freedom, it also makes it pretty easy to get distracted. And there are other challenges, too. Most employees know exactly how much they’re getting paid for their time. What about freelancers? Sometimes, we work a lot of unpaid hours without even realizing it. If this is you, it’s time to learn about time tracking for freelancers.

Time tracking for freelancers: why and how to do it

Keeping an online timesheet may seem counterintuitive to some freelancers. After all, most of us chose the freelancing lifestyle because we were sick of exchanging time for money. We want freedom to work our own hours. We want to ensure we can do our jobs in the most efficient manner possible. And we want to get paid for our expertise and efficiency, rather than for the hours we put in. But many freelancers actually put in more time than they did at their regular jobs. Are you doing this? There’s no way to tell unless you track your time. Time tracking for freelancers is a necessity to ensure we’re spending our time in the most efficient manner possible and that we’re getting paid what we’re worth.

While employees need to track their time to give reports to their employers, time tracking for freelancers serves a different purpose. You need to report to yourself. Freelancers shouldn’t have to give detailed time reports to clients. You should be getting paid for your expertise, efficiency, and your value as it relates to return on investment for your clients, and not for how many hours you put in. But without tracking your time for yourself, you’ll never know if you’re actually getting paid what you’re worth. By tracking your time and analyzing how much time you’re spending on each project, you can evaluate you efficiency, know when to raise your rates, and find ways to improve the ways you run your business.

Time Tracking for Freelancers, timepanther.com. Photo of a hand holding a watch. Photo by Saffu on Unsplash.

How to track your time

There are many different ways to track your time. While time tracking for employees most often looks like a company timesheet or a punchclock, timetracking for freelancers can look however you want it to look. You can certainly grab a notebook and stopwatch and write down how many minutes or hours you’re spending on each individual project. But that’s  pretty time consuming and often inefficient. You can choose to work using the pomodoro technique and write down how many focused minutes you’ve spent working. But that’s also time-consuming and not exactly efficient, especially if you’re working with several clients, which you should be if you’re a freelancer—always keep the pipeline full. Another, more efficient way to track your time is to use an online timesheet.

Online timesheets have several advantages over paper-and-pen time tracking for freelancers. Tracking your time online means you can have all of your time records in one place. It means you can be very organized and see at a glance not just how much time you’re spending with a client, but how much time your’e spending on each project for that client. It also helps you prevent scope creep: if a client is asking more of you than what was agreed to in your contract, you’ll need to create a new project. This will give you a heads up that maybe it’s time to have a conversation with your client about revising that contract—and add more pay. Online timesheets give you an easy way to track your time without spending extra time trying to figure out how. TimePanther is a great way to keep an online timesheet.

An easy, free-to-use time tracking software solution

TimePanther provides an easy to use, effortless way to track your time. It’s an excellent tool for freelancers and anyone wanting to see where all their time is going. With TimePanther, you can not only track the time you spend on each project, but know exactly how much you’re getting paid per hour of work done, even if you’re working with fixed payments. You can see analytics of time spent per project at a glance, and more. All of this will help you to work in the most efficient manner possible and know exactly how you’re spending your time. The best part? TimePanther is completely free to use. No catch. Click here to sign up for your free account today.

Author: Mariana Abeid-McDougall is a multi-niche writer and editor. Her writing appears across the web, where she muses about life, parenting, freelancing, and more. Writing and travel are her passions, and she’ll tell you all about them at www.marianamcdougall.com.