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Time Profitably Spent: Addressing Challenges With Freelance Time Tracking
Project Management 7 min read

Time Profitably Spent: Addressing Challenges With Freelance Time Tracking

Freelancing offers many benefits, such as the freedom to work on your own terms and the ability to control your work-life balance. However, freelancers often face challenges in effectively managing their time and tracking their work hours. In this article, we will explore the importance of time tracking in freelancing, common challenges faced by freelancers, tools and techniques for effective time tracking, and the impact of efficient time tracking on profitability.  Understanding the Importance of Time Tracking in Freelancing Effective time management is crucial for freelancers to make sure they meet client deadlines and deliver high-quality work. By tracking their time, freelancers can identify their most productive hours and allocate their time accordingly. They can prioritize tasks, set realistic goals, and create a structured routine that maximizes their productivity. Moreover, time management allows freelancers to strike a healthy work-life balance. With the flexibility that freelancing offers, it can be easy to become consumed by work and neglect personal life. However, by tracking their time, freelancers can allocate specific hours for work and leisure, so they have time for family, hobbies, and self-care. Why Freelancers Struggle with Time Tracking Despite the importance of time tracking, many freelancers struggle with it. Inconsistent work hours: Without a fixed schedule, it can be difficult to track time accurately. Freelancers may find themselves working late into the night or during unconventional hours, making it challenging to maintain a consistent time tracking routine. Solution: Establish a daily routine and set specific work hours. Work during your most productive hours and take breaks during less productive moments to optimize performance. Distractions and procrastination: The comfort of home can sometimes blur the lines between work and personal life, making it harder to focus solely on tracking time. Distractions such as household chores, family responsibilities, or even the temptation of binge-watching a favorite TV show can divert freelancers' attention from accurately tracking their time. Solution: Create a dedicated workspace, free from distractions. Have a separate room or designated area in the home to focus solely on work. Meditation and deep breathing exercises can also be practiced in your dedicated workspace, for improved focus and concentration. Tools and Techniques for Effective Time Tracking Freelancers have numerous tools and techniques at their disposal to help them track their time effectively. By utilizing these resources, freelancers can optimize their productivity and ensure accurate billing and project management. They will also be able to gain valuable insights into productivity patterns and identify areas for improvement. Use of time tracking apps specifically designed for freelancers: These apps offer a wide range of features, including the ability to track work hours, set project-specific rates, generate invoices, and export detailed reports. Toggl, Harvest, and RescueTime are just a few examples of the top time tracking apps available in the market. Monitor the time spent on each task and project: This level of detail allows for accurate billing and provides valuable insights into productivity and resource allocation. Additionally, the ability to generate reports simplifies the process of sharing time tracking data with clients or stakeholders. Pomodoro Technique: This method involves breaking work into focused intervals, typically 25 minutes in length, known as "Pomodoros." After completing a Pomodoro, freelancers take a short break before moving on to the next task. After four Pomodoros, a more extended break is taken. The Impact of Efficient Time Tracking on Profitability Efficient time tracking has a significant impact on a freelancer's profitability. It goes beyond simply keeping track of hours worked; it involves analyzing and optimizing how time is spent to maximize productivity and profitability. How Time Tracking Boosts Productivity By tracking their time, freelancers can identify inefficiencies and eliminate unproductive activities. This leads to improved productivity and enables them to accomplish more in less time. Time tracking also helps in recognizing patterns and trends in work habits, allowing freelancers to make adjustments and optimize their productivity. For example, a freelancer might notice that they spend an excessive amount of time on administrative tasks, such as organizing files or responding to emails. By identifying this trend, they can implement strategies to streamline these tasks, such as using automation tools or setting aside specific blocks of time dedicated solely to administrative work.  Turning Time into Money: The Freelancer's Guide Time tracking allows freelancers to accurately bill clients based on the time spent on tasks. It ensures that freelancers are appropriately compensated for their work and helps in building trust and transparency with clients. Tracking time also lets them determine the profitability of each project and make informed decisions when selecting future projects. Moreover, time tracking provides freelancers with valuable data to analyze their rates and pricing structures. By understanding the time it takes to complete different types of tasks, freelancers can set competitive rates that reflect their skills and expertise. This not only ensures fair compensation but also positions them as professionals in their industry, who should be taken seriously. Case Study: Jane Smith's Time Tracking Methods Examining the time tracking methods of successful freelancers can provide valuable insights and inspiration. Freelancers can learn from their strategies, implement effective time tracking techniques, and adapt them to their own work style and preferences. For instance, renowned freelance graphic designer Jane Smith attributes her success to a meticulous time tracking system. She uses specialized software that not only records her working hours but also categorizes them based on different projects and tasks. This allows her to accurately assess the time spent on each project and make data-driven decisions when allocating resources for future endeavors. Although Jane's methods may seem cumbersome and unnecessary, her strategies work; they demonstrate that you must put in effort to achieve a certain result. Overall, effective time tracking is crucial for freelancers to address challenges and maximize their productivity and profitability. By understanding the importance of time tracking, recognizing common challenges, utilizing appropriate tools and techniques, and realizing the impact of efficient time tracking on profitability, freelancers can optimize their time and achieve success in their freelance careers. So, embrace time tracking as a valuable tool and start making the most of your time as a freelancer. Address freelance time tracking challenges using Wrike's time management features. Start a free trial today, ensure every minute counts, and increase overall productivity. Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.

Desk Organization Ideas and Tips for Your Work-From-Home Setup
Remote Working 10 min read

Desk Organization Ideas and Tips for Your Work-From-Home Setup

These 13 desk organization ideas will help you put together a work-from-home desk setup that supports you in doing (and enjoying) your very best work.

Remote-how Guest Post: Overcoming Complexities To Make Hybrid Work
Remote Working 7 min read

Remote-how Guest Post: Overcoming Complexities To Make Hybrid Work

In this guest post, Remote-how’s Iwo Szapar explores the complexities facing companies shifting to hybrid models and how to succeed in this new world of work.

Do Remote Marketing Jobs Offer Higher Salaries?
Marketing 10 min read

Do Remote Marketing Jobs Offer Higher Salaries?

Has the rise of remote work led to higher salaries in remote marketing roles? Find out with the latest industry insights and data.

Asynchronous Work Explained for 2022
Remote Working 10 min read

Asynchronous Work Explained for 2022

Asynchronous work allows remote teams to set their own schedules and take advantage of working from home. Learn more about working asynchronously.

Remote Team Etiquette: 11 Rules
Wrike Tips 5 min read

Remote Team Etiquette: 11 Rules

If you’ve started using Wrike and are wondering about “proper manners” when collaborating with remote team members, then allow us to suggest these 11 rules of Wrike etiquette. Incorporating these rules into your daily work should smoothen collaboration and make it much more pleasant for your team, no matter where they may be working.

How to Plan a Virtual Christmas Party for Remote Employees
Remote Working 10 min read

How to Plan a Virtual Christmas Party for Remote Employees

As 2021 draws to a close, many employees are still working remotely across the world. With this in mind, businesses are looking at how they can involve everyone within their organizations in a fun and memorable virtual Christmas party. In this guide, we’ll provide practical insight into the planning and hosting of virtual Christmas parties. Keep reading to discover the tips, tricks, and tools you need to create a successful digital event your team will actually enjoy.  How to get everyone involved in a virtual Christmas party Engaging an audience of remote workers seems challenging at first. They’re already used to virtual events but not necessarily the fun kind. In order to make your virtual Christmas party exciting, you’ll need to follow some best practices for planning virtual events. The three hallmarks of improving engagement at any virtual event are the inclusion of a physical component, an interactive process, and being able to see other attendees.  A physical component of a virtual event can include something sent to an attendee’s address ahead of time that they can use on the day. For a virtual Christmas party, this may be a funny themed hat or a present.  Most companies choose to do virtual gift cards as their Christmas party presents for employees. Instead, make the day more exciting by sending a physical gift to every attendee. Creating a gift box or basket that people can actually open will make your virtual Christmas party that much more memorable.  An interactive process requires audience participation before, during, and after the event. For example, you can spark engagement from the moment you first invite guests by using a virtual registration process that gets them excited about the event.  For large groups or events, registration should be done at least two weeks in advance. And just like at an in-person event, your virtual Christmas party team leads should interact with the confirmed attendees ahead of time through fun event reminders and announcements.  Pro tip: Having a virtual event registration process helps differentiate your virtual Christmas party from other digital office gatherings. It shows that this is more than just a calendar invite for a training session or regular meeting. E-cards such as the festive holiday cocktail party ones from Paperless Post are great for this.  Finally, host your virtual Christmas party on a video call platform and not just on a one-way livestream or audio-only app. Require cameras to be on throughout the event. Create opportunities for guests to use every feature of the event platform.  For example, you can play part games and designate teams by having Team A use the raised hand emoji and Team B use the heart emoji on Zoom. You can also use breakout rooms to create smaller groups for team building activities and Christmas-themed challenges.  Top tips for planning a virtual Christmas party Planning a virtual Christmas party can feel and look a lot like planning a virtual work meeting. Here are some ways to make these two events different yet well organized:  Designate a charismatic host who can keep track of the event timeline and keep everyone engaged.  Use a team collaboration software like Wrike to project manage your virtual Christmas party.  Ask your team what they’d like to see happen at the virtual Christmas party so they can feel involved in the planning process too.  Include team building activities and icebreaker games to kick off the social part of the evening.  Double-check that your host WiFi is strong and guests can hear and see you clearly.  Your party should be scheduled for a Friday night instead of a Saturday afternoon if you want to maximize attendance. If you decide to go all out, make sure to provide alcohol-free transportation or driver services. If you organize a virtual Christmas party during work hours, make certain that your team is prepared to handle the additional workload. Go all out with your background decorations to make the event feel truly special. This can be a physical background filled with a Christmas tree and gifts or a customized virtual background everyone can use that has a festive design.  Virtual Christmas party ideas and games your team won't hate Host a sommelier-led wine or hot cocoa tasting complete with nuts, candies, and cheese.  Participate in a remote escape room experience. The winning team gets a Secret Santa gift.  Have a Christmas cookie decorating competition with management as the judges. This requires some prep ahead of time but will be a visual feast for all attendees.  Dress to a theme and host a contest for the best ugly sweaters, Santas, and other Christmas character outfits.  Bring in classic board games such as bingo, charades, and virtual Apples to Apples. Look for versions with a holiday or Christmas twist.  Invite guest performers to do stand-up comedy, play live music, or even do magic while dressed as Santa.  If children are in attendance, screen a Christmas movie like “A Muppet Christmas Carol”. If it’s adults only, watch something like “Die Hard”.  Host a creative workshop such as cocktail making, scarf knitting, or ornament crafting.  Invite a local school, church, or community group to sing Christmas carols during the event.  Start a Christmas-themed trivia game for prizes.  How do you make a virtual Christmas party inclusive? Although there are various holiday celebrations and festivities that happen throughout the year, they seldom get the same attention that they deserve. An inclusive approach encourages employees to recognize that they come from a variety of faiths, traditions, and cultures. To make your virtual Christmas party more inclusive, leaders should make their employees feel valued by turning it into a virtual office holiday party instead.  Or, if hosting a true Christmas celebration is important to the majority of your team, make sure you’re upfront about it.  Sometimes an employer will announce a regular holiday event that ends up feeling, looking, and sounding a lot like a Christmas party. But according to the experts at the Society for Human Resource Management, it’s much better to be upfront about which holiday or holidays will be represented at your party than mislabeling it for the sake of inclusion.  If you do host a virtual Christmas party, make sure to also acknowledge and give the appropriate time off for other winter holiday celebrations for employees who celebrate those instead.  How to plan a virtual Christmas party with Wrike Wrike is an online task management system that manages to-do lists and multi-department projects, including events like virtual Christmas parties. Its advanced features allow it to efficiently organize groups of people.  To start, it's important that the virtual Christmas party planning team has a centralized folder for each major portion of the event running at the same time. This way, they can easily identify which parts of the plan are complete and which ones are still in progress. Next, each team has its own subfolders, which can be organized into areas of responsibility and major initiatives. This system also keeps all of the important details organized, allowing each team to set its own deadlines and work seamlessly with the other event crew. For virtual Christmas parties, this means keeping track of everything from mailing invitations and gifts to arranging live performers.  After, Wrike users can add a registration folder to their virtual Christmas party project. The registration folder contains all the necessary information related to attendee registration. From there, tasks can be broken down into specific sub-tasks with more detail. For example, if your task is to host a cookie baking contest, your sub-task list may include the item “draft contest rules by December 15”.  In addition to adding dates to tasks and sub-tasks, members of the event management team can add custom tags to each item. This will make tasks easier to find, sort, and assign to the appropriate team members.  Each team can customize their tag options in Wrike to fit their own guidelines for breaking down tasks into action items. For example, teams can designate certain tasks as “Administrative” to automatically sort logistics-based tasks into one skimmable list.  Once you've created a list of tasks, you can start scheduling them in Wrike. Doing so in the timeline view will help organize them nicely and ensure that your announcements, invitations, RSVPs, and party shopping all get done on time.  There are lots of ways to view tasks once you have them created and assigned. Drag-and-drop tasks can be organized in a timeline view. You can also group them into predefined hierarchies.  And if one task is dependent on another (such as waiting for RSVPs to come in before putting together the gift baskets), Wrike allows users to connect tasks and send automated notifications and reminders to the appropriate people when it’s time to move on to the next steps.  Having task dependencies makes it easier to identify which tasks are dependent on which part of your virtual Christmas party plan. Also, it saves you time when you need to update the status of a specific task since Wrike will trigger these reminders for you.  And after your virtual Christmas party is over, you can simply just drag and drop the entire folder into a "Past Events" folder for next year.  Create a templated version of your planning process to streamline future event planning and organizing. Or simply keep a record of the fun everyone had and how you brought it to life.  No matter how you use the information, it’s handy to have on file within your project management system for future reference.  Ready to get your virtual Christmas party organized and on track to be a big hit? Get started today with Wrike’s two-week free trial to take advantage of our detailed task management capabilities. 

5 Virtual Documentation Mistakes You're Making
Collaboration 5 min read

5 Virtual Documentation Mistakes You're Making

Your bank is trying to get you to do it. And so is your insurance company. It sometimes feels like the whole world is trying to save trees (a good thing) and trying to get you more organized by making documentation virtual. But virtual documents are no more helpful than packets of real paper if you don't do it right — and can be one of the pros and cons of working from home. Here are 5 mistakes that many people make with virtual documentation and how to fix them by storing documents the 2014 way. Mistake 1: Not storing documents in the cloud What happens when documents don't live in the cloud? They die with old hard drives. They're accidentally deleted from personal computers. You can't access them once you leave the office. If you save work-related documents in a cloud software such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box then your important documents won't be dependent on the existence of your computer. If your hard drive crashes, your documents live on. If you leave the office but suddenly need to look at that customer-related file, you can check it from your phone. Putting documents in the cloud means your work belongs to you, not to your computer. Cloud Storage Suggestions: Google Drive, Dropbox, Box Mistake 2: Exchanging documents through email Manually attaching a document to an email leads to a host of problems: the file size is too large, the email gets lost in the recipient's inbox, old file versions can't be deleted out of inboxes and people still reference them after they're outdated. This tip goes hand-in-hand with keeping files in the cloud. Sharing documents online is easier than ever, so there is no reason to resort to email exchanges. Instead, give your colleagues links to easily-updated, cloud-hosted files and avoid all those email challenges. Mistake 3: No standard file organization methods Just because your documentation is virtual doesn't mean you stop worrying about where  your files are stored. Virtual documents are just as easily lost as slips of paper. Virtual files are slightly easier to find if you're willing to put in the search-and-rescue work, but you can prevent wasting that time altogether with a little bit of planning. Set up a logical folder structure to store documents (e.g. a "Customer-facing" folder split into subfolders for specific types of files), and make sure everyone knows how to navigate them. If only one person understands how to document everything correctly, files will still get lost. Creating a standard method of organizing files — and teaching everyone those standards — means you won't worry about losing your customer NDAs. Software Suggestion: cloud project management solutions with file attachment capabilities help you store and organize your files into project folders Mistake 4: Process documents aren't immediately updated If you're part of a company that doesn't document processes, this point may not apply. But for companies that document workflow and development processes, failing to properly implement change management can trip you up. When processes change, updating the relevant documents must happen concurrently. People responsible for maintaining documents should be involved with process update meetings from day one. As soon as final decisions are made, those documents need to reflect the new changes before the decision is officially rolled out to the company. Mistake 5: Old versions of documents aren't deleted Are you a file packrat? When documents become outdated, they either need to be replaced or deleted completely. Leaving old documents in your cloud storage or project management tool creates room for mistakes. People will inevitably reference old versions of your file and make mistakes based on outdated knowledge. If you need to be able to reference old versions, collaboration software can track document changes or allow you to version your documents. You'll be able to keep previous versions around for reference and simultaneously understand which file is the most recent. Use cloud file-storage or project management storage for better virtual documentation What other virtual documentation mistakes has your team made, and how did you fix them? Teach everyone a new thing or two in the comments.

Working Remotely or Remotely Working? Tips for Confident Remote Collaboration
Collaboration 7 min read

Working Remotely or Remotely Working? Tips for Confident Remote Collaboration

From “digital nomads” to cross-continent distributed teams to Friday traffic-dodgers: working remotely has never been so popular and collaborative.

How to Effectively Manage Remote Teams
Leadership 5 min read

How to Effectively Manage Remote Teams

Ubiquitous high-speed internet connectivity, free wifi, and secure access to your company’s network allow today's organizations to employ workers from all corners of the globe. As a result, over the past 10 years, remote work has grown by 103% in the US alone, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  Fueled by increased worker satisfaction, and an average cost savings of over $11,000 per worker yearly, the ability to effectively manage a remote team is a must-have skill in today’s world.  Benefits of Remote Teams Finances: The financial savings are the most obvious advantage remote teams offer your company. As a matter of fact, according to McKinsey, some organizations manage to cut their labor costs by as much as 70%. Now, nobody is claiming that outsourcing is perfect, and it definitely isn’t for everyone, but the fact is it can save you a lot of money.  Convenience: In addition, organizations with remote teams don’t have to worry about renting large office spaces. Telecommuting allows employees to jump right into assignments no matter where they're located, which speeds up the workflow, increases productivity, and according to PGI, even lowers worker stress.  Focus: Finally, employing a remote team allows you to focus on improving the core of your business. Outsourcing peripheral services and projects such as coding and content creation enables you to work on the big picture and concentrate on acquiring and nurturing customers. Tips on Managing Remote Teams While it’s not difficult to see why remote work has been steadily gaining popularity among workers and employers over the last several years, managing workers who don’t report in person comes with a unique set of challenges. Overcoming these obstacles should be your top priority, so let’s see how you can solve some of the biggest problems and learn how to manage remote teams. Tracking & Improving Productivity For starters, when you’re not physically able to see your team members on a daily basis, it can be quite difficult to track the amount of work they complete and help them overcome roadblocks. Tools like Wrike can track team productivity, clarify team priorities, and provide a central workspace for your team to collaborate. And if a member of your team experiences technical difficulties and needs vendor support to resolve the issue, a tool like Securelink can help you manage remote vendor access and provide your employees with peace of mind.     Hosting for Video Conferences Treat remote meetings exactly as you would face-to-face gatherings. That means dedicating enough time to preparing and sending out agendas, creating slides, and familiarizing yourself with your video conferencing app so you can head off any technical difficulties. To keep your team engaged, use media and visual aids to keep the meeting moving, stick to the agenda as much as possible, and keep meetings short and focused. Consideration of Time Zone Differences If you have team members spread across different states, or even continents, be prepared to work non-traditional hours. Project managers have to accommodate their remote workers by being available during the hours when most of the team is awake and working.  Depending on time zones, this means some members will have to log in earlier in the morning or later in the evening to connect with the rest of the team. If this is the case, you need to know your employees’ personal commitments before you schedule them off-hours.  Additional Reading: Helpful Books on Remote Management As more organizations embark on new ways of working, a new culture of knowledge sharing has developed to help professionals make more informed, educated decisions. Ebooks like Wrike's The Art of Staying Productive Across Distance and Zapier’s The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work give you comprehensive, practical advice for managing remote teams.  Author Bio:  Oscar Waterworth is a writer from Sydney, Australia and a senior editor at Bizzmarkblog. He enjoys reading about the latest in the tech, marketing and business industries. Oscar writes a lot, so stay updated with his latest posts by following him on Twitter.     

Why Team Accountability Matters for Remote Productivity
Remote Working 10 min read

Why Team Accountability Matters for Remote Productivity

Team accountability is one of the most important elements of remote work and productivity. Find out why this is so, with Wrike Project Management.

Online Collaboration Tools for Students
Collaboration 7 min read

Online Collaboration Tools for Students

Remote learning has exploded with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how online collaboration tools for students can enable effective distance learning.

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