A freelancer's guide to focus booster - Manage client projects, hourly rates and track every working minute like a boss

As a freelancer, it takes more than motivation to stay focused.

It's necessary to create a schedule and stick to it. You can still have the flexible working hours that working for yourself affords you, but you need to have the discipline to ensure you get everything done.

This is where time tracking is important. If you don't have a plan and a way to measure your progress against that plan, how will you ever be sure you're kicking goals?

Tracking time has multiple benefits, like providing accurate data to bill your clients or being able to quote a new job using real data from a previous project. So, you are missing opportunities to develop your business if you're not analysing your time.

This is where a time tracking app, like focus booster, can keep you informed. Statistics even support time tracking paradigms; it's estimated that you can minimise productivity leaks by 80% with a time tracking app.

In light of this value, let's look at how focus booster can help you to improve your business, like a boss...

freelancer working in tropical location
Credit: Photo by By GaudiLab on Shutterstock

Manage your data for better time tracking

As a freelancer, you're required to juggle different client projects; which can be painful, even more so when attempting to record your time accurately.

Suppose you currently use a spreadsheet, block out time in your calendar or the basic pen and paper technique, all of which can have their share of headaches. Your computer has crashed, and your spreadsheet entries didn't save. You misplaced your notepad and your time logs are now lost.

Tracking your time doesn't have to be a mammoth task. This is where a few of focus booster's features can bring stress-free time tracking to your day;

  • Client management - From proposals to juggling projects in different stages of completion; there's a lot to keep on top of. Focus booster's client management feature allows you to create a list of clients to assign to each pomodoro session to show where your time is going.

  • Revenue management - You didn't enter the solopreneur world to crunch numbers all day. That's why focus booster does it for you. Time tracking and monitoring are vital for generating fair invoices. With focus booster's revenue management feature, you can create an hourly-rate per client. Every session you record in focus booster for that client will calculate the revenue you've accrued for the tasks you complete. This helps you to track revenue and invoice easily.

focus booster client and revenue management
Image of focus booster's client management feature with hourly rates and client status.

  • Session labels (to-do's) - A to-do list is a double-edged sword. It helps you to remember what you need to do, but it nags you to achieve more. In focus booster, we have a feature to ease this stress - labels. You can see precisely where you spend your time, and it will keep you focused during sessions when distractions occur. All you need to do is enter the name of the task you want to work on, hit play on the timer and focus.

You may be a one-person business, but, you still need to track and record what you do and when. Once you've created the data you need to track (clients, hourly rates and labels), your focus booster account will become your one resource for managing, reporting and analysing progress.

Tracking your hours increases your awareness of time management as well as your accountability. The benefit of focus booster is that you can use it anywhere, whether you're in or out of your office, all you need to do is record your sessions.

focus booster timesheets feature
Image of focus booster's timesheets feature with the completed tasks for each client and the total hours and revenue earnt for one day.

Dashboards to identify problem clients and areas for improvement

No matter the task management framework you use, managing your goals and having a platform to track the progress of a job means you can create a clear connection between the two. This allows you to prioritise the right work and shine a light on any problem clients before it's too late.

A problem client, for example, could be one who set a low budget for the job and yet, micromanages your every step, extending the life of the project. Time you could invest in a more worthwhile client.

In focus booster, you can have real-time visibility of your progress with dashboard reports.

You can see how you're progressing on a client, offer a progress report on how the timeline of a job is looking or, quickly see if a problem client (the one who isn't turning your eyeballs into dollar signs) is soaking up too much of your time.

focus booster client and revenue management
Image of focus booster's dashboard reports, displaying a break down of client workloads.

Your pomodoro sessions are the basic building blocks of these reports.

At a glance, you can see Client R is the most profitable but, Company I and Product T don't generate revenue. Together, though, they take up more than 25% of the time. The workload for each should be examined to see how to reduce the time spent, or, gain some revenue.

These are reports that will save you hours of data gathering and analysis, and that is after all the additional productivity focus booster will bring when using the pomodoro technique.

In fact, Ben, a freelance writer discovered success with these detailed reports too.

"With a quick look at reports, I can see that my lowest paying client is taking up too much of my time this week and I need to secure another client or two to get rid of this uneasy feeling I'm getting about my earnings."

Quick client invoicing

Every second counts as a freelancer and getting paid on time is especially important. Late payments can negatively impact cash flow, damage your client-freelancer relationship and distract you from paying work.

When charging by the hour, it's vital to keep a precise record of the time devoted to a project. This requires a tool that captures all the time you spend on client tasks and converts your time entries into easy to read reports.

Remember all of the session data we talked about earlier? It's time to introduce you to the number one feature to save you from invoicing headaches; the session export.

You can quickly grab a list of every time entry for a client project and view a tally of the revenue these hours convert to. With this data, export it into a spreadsheet, copy and paste or, attach this directly into your client's invoice.

Voila, your client can now see the start and finish date of the project, the total time spent down to the very last minute and how this converts to billable hours.
focus booster client and revenue management
Image of sessions exported from focus booster for one project, to be attached to the client's invoice for billing.

Improve the accuracy of future project estimates

Estimates, not guesstimates.

Have you ever underquoted on a project because you weren't sure how long it would take? Or worse, have you ever missed a deadline due to the inaccuracy of a scope?

It's not easy to accurately estimate the duration of a project, even with years of experience, and underquoting and under-scoping will cost your business money.

To improve your time management and adequately manage revenue, a time tracking tool (like focus booster) can help to incorporate every phase of a project into a proposal so that you can feel confident with your estimates.

For example, a developer could distinguish if building a site from scratch is a more desirable option. Or, buying a template and customising it will serve a more productive purpose in terms of time and hourly rates, based on previous projects they've completed.

Tracking time spent on past projects helps to make a better judgement for future projects. When a prospective client asks for a quote, check your existing data in focus booster for similar, past projects, to accurately estimate how long it will take to complete and how much it should cost.

This will also help you manage your schedule and ensure you keep your client happy by accurately setting expectations from the beginning of a project or working relationship.

Take control of your workflow, once and for all

Killing it as a solopreneur isn't a walk in the park, and the key to business success isn't solely relying on time tracking, but also knowing why time management is necessary.

By pairing a time tracking tool with reporting and invoicing to get the accurate result of your work, you can ease client doubts and save yourself hours of work that you'd otherwise spend on generating invoices or manually imputing time entries into spreadsheets. You'll instead deliver more value and create a stress-free work environment.

Time tracking is easy, that's why focus booster is so commonly recognised as one of the most simple time tracking tools available; teaching you to understand how you spend your time so you can increase the value and efficiency of your workflows.

So, next time you're working on a project and ask yourself, "How am I tracking my time?" Jump into focus booster and start recording sessions to get yourself into a productivity flow.