But – I’ve found an app that is so handy and simple and FREE, I just had to share.
I’ve always been one of those guys that just sort of ballparks time when billing or quoting, and old habits die hard. But, after my 4-hour-a-day epiphany, I decided I’d go for a few weeks and really track the amount of time I spend on projects. Do logos REALLY take me 8 hours? Does a WordPress website take 5? I had guesstimates, but that’s not going to cut it when you try to track every minute of the day.
Enter iClockr from Kedisoft. (and no, I’m not getting any kickbacks!)
It’s a free piece of software, and it’s quickly become indispensable to me.
Using iClockr is über-simple. You set up categories of work (design, communications, blogging, wasting time, etc) and then go in and add individual jobs or clients under those categories. Once that’s done, you’re ready to really start tracking your time. When you start working on a client’s job, before you open the client folder (you DO keep things organized, right?) you click on that client’s name or job, click “start timer” and work away.
iClockr sits in the background, being totally unobtrusive, and times your work. It doesn’t stop automatically, but it’s as easy to stop as it it to start. Get a phone call? Stop the timer and hit the communications tab and start the call. Need to go to the john? Stop/start.
It’s amazing how many projects I have that I spend 5 minutes on every day – but I spend 5 minutes 30 times a day. That can really add up. My brain can’t keep it all in order, but iClockr will.
You’ll be amazed at how little time you spend working on some projects and how much time you spend on others. It can help you change your pricing structure, and it can help you stay productive, especially if you have a daily nut of hours to meet.
It doesn’t print out invoices (you can tie it to Invoice 3 and do that, but Invoice 3 isn’t free) and it’s Mac only, so I’m sorry for all you Windows people out there. It has weekly/monthly/yearly reports by client, so it’s a snap to go back through and bill clients for ACTUAL time. Kinda cool.
The other thing that it does is help you be more realistic about how much time it takes you to do something. That helps in a couple of ways – it lets you restructure your rates, and it also allows you to see what projects are truly the most profitable. If you know what’s more profitable, you can gear your business towards that type of thing. If it’s a time-sucking black hole (we all have them,) you can steer clear of those things in the future.
iClockr also helps you see which of your clients are eating holes in your day and keeping you from being profitable. It also will show you how much time you’re wasting watching The Big Lebowski or playing around on Kongregate.
Knowing where your time goes is crucial to freelancing – not just for billing, but for efficiency and business planning.
iClockr – it’s got some downsides, but the upsides are HUGE, and the price is right.
So now you know. And knowing is half the battle… (sorry, getting giddy over the G.I. Joe movie. Sue me.)