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An average week as a freelancer

This week I have got back into the habit of tracking my time for the vast majority of my working day. I find having a timer ticking on my screen helps improve my focus, increases the amount of time billed to clients, and helps me improve the accuracy of my quotes. I thought it might be interesting to share how a freelancer spends their time during an average week.

Business Tasks – 10%

Business tasks covers all sorts of un-billed business related tasks – for example task schedule planning, replying to emails, invoicing, accounts, pre-sales and other administration tasks. This is probably slightly lower than what I would usually expect.

Support – 21%

This covers both formal web support agreements, as well as providing support on an adhoc basis to customers (either billed or un-billed).

Since my first website, I have been offering customers web support packages. These provide me with a regular income, and provide the customer with fast and reliable support (the other key benefit is that as time is pre-paid for, there is no minimum charge). For a few customers, I also support the users of their websites, and at this time of year, this can be up to 30-40 support tickets a week.

Minor Work – 17%

This covers minor(usually) chargeable  work, such as website alterations, email templates or new modules.  These are usually billed by the hour.

Large Projects – 45%

These are projects where I have given a quoted price for an entire project – something like a new website development or app.

Personal Projects – 2%

I have a number of personal projects on the go at the moment, and I find this share of my time depressing low (especially compared to…)

Social Media – 3%

This is time spent on social media sites and generally browsing the web (to be fair including Google Reader) and nothing else.

I have no problem spending this amount of time “socialising” though – when you work on your own and, in my case, in a small village, sites like Twitter and Facebook make up for the absence of work colleagues. This time is also not just “social” but includes reading industry related posts, sharing ideas and networking (the business justification of Twitter is probably a good topic for another blog post in the future).

Personal – 1%

Non-work related activities, like researching a birthday present, or viewing the latest trailer for Civilisation 5!

How do you spend your time?

Comments

daylightgambler
Reply

I use slimtimer (http://slimtimer.com) – it is a great little app which is easy and quick to use.

It has quite a lot of report functions and tagging features.

nwdavison
Reply

I use a slightly different system. I am not so concerned about the formal monitoring of time units. However I know all my manufacturing and pre-fabrication times to the nearest 5 minutes
The day is broken down into mini-days of 2 hours , what gets done in the 2hour min-day is pre-planned eg. fabricate 2 corner panels . or prefabricate a monolithic roof-panel.
Every 2 hours I change activities, that way repition-fatigue cannot creep into my mini-day periods.
What dosn;t get done in the mini-day is carried over to the next callander day.

Also I strongly believe that time periods must be made available for pure R&D, although this is much harder to achieve than to state . Since creativity and mood are connected..

It is fairly clear that most work analysis, has a self-deluding aspect. . More than ever today we mistake movement for action and action for progress. That is why modern managers are so prone to Stress.

daylightgambler
Reply

Thanks for your comment.

Having fixed time slots (or mini-days as you call them) is definitely important, and I find makes me much more focused. I tend to plan my week out in this way, allowing for a bit of slack when things do not quite go to plan.

For web development though, I find I am often more efficient when I work solidly for longer periods of time – I enter a sort of coding zone, and it can take some time to get back into the rhythm after a distraction (like email or a phone call).

As someone commented on twitter, this “average” week (not that there is such a thing) does show that a high proportion of my time is spent client-focused rather than on self-development or personal projects (although that is not the case this week!)

I agree that tracking time for analysis sake is not necessarily helpful, but in my situation (working from home as a freelancer) being “on the clock” ensures focus and productivity, and ensures that billable work is billed!

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