Better Time Management

Since I made the jump to full time freelancing at the start of 2013 I have had to become more aware of how I manage my time.

My first piece of regular work was for Dev7studios, working from home as Gilbert is based in the north of Scotland. Working remotely for someone you have only ever chatted to on Skype comes with the underlying need for honesty around hours tracked and billed. I had recently moved my accounting online with FreeAgent and was able to make full use of its time tracking for projects coupled with the excellent Slips for Mac from Rareloop. This meant I could literally start a timer before working on Dev7studios work and record exactly how long I took.

When I started working for Outlandish on multiple projects within a larger team, I quickly realised that time tracking against projects needed to be accurate and consistent. They use YouTrack for issue tracking and project management, so time needs to be recorded against tasks in there. Outlandish are going through a period of rapid growth and are facing the challenges that scaling brings, especially around efficiency, productivity and time management. They are also a very transparent company and discussions were happening the other day in the office around these challenges that prompted me to reflect on time management for my own business. This has been on my mind recently as I signed up for RescueTime to track my screen time to monitor productivity.

Last night I wrote a large to-do list on Trello for the myriad of projects I needed to work on today. As I started today it occurred to me that I don’t actually track time on any of my own projects. As I don’t bill myself I just have never thought to do so, which of course is totally crazy. I spend around 10-30 minutes a day on plugin support but never record it. When I work on plugin development it is totally untracked. When it comes to sales and earning metrics I have everything to hand, but I am missing the important time tracking to really be able to add real insight to my plugin business.

This all changed today when I created a client for myself in FreeAgent and added all my active projects and tasks to record time against. This had the added benefit of allowing me to work in smaller chunks of time on different things. An hour of coding here, an hour of design there as well as chunks of business development. It has been without doubt one of my most productive days and I am excited by a new routine that will enable better business insight and hopefully increased productivity.

How do you manage your time? What tools or methods do you use?