This is guest article contributed by AND CO.
Save yourself time and effort by implementing these tips for taking care of the administrative side of your freelance business.
As a freelancer, you’re the administrator, the administrative assistant, the marketing department, the creative department, the custodian, and—well, you get it. You’re everything, all rolled up into one.
Since you’re only paid for billable work, every minute you spend on non-billable admin tasks is one where you’re not on client work. Fortunately, there are some great ways to save yourself time and effort.
- Block your time: Many highly accomplished people report that scheduling their life in blocks of time, as opposed to using to-do lists, has been a key to their success. This not only means blocking out times of the day for focusing directly on certain tasks, but also sometimes blocking out entire weekends well in advance for a well-deserved break.
- Track your hours: Using a time-tracking app allows you to simply hit a button to begin tracking your time. Some services can even automatically generate invoices based on the time you track. If you miss a day, you can easily backtrack and update your timesheet, and because it’s an app, you can take it with you anywhere. Want to avoid wasting precious time? Download the Moment app to keep your smartphone addiction in check, and use browser plugins like The Great Suspender to block websites that detract you from your work (sorry, Buzzfeed).
- Automate expense management: Keeping yourself organized so that you don’t lose track of your expenses, can be another way to save yourself time and unnecessary effort. Using apps that generate expense reports for you, as opposed to fumbling around in Microsoft Excel all afternoon, can make a world of difference. Keeping tabs on expenses will also save you time (and money) during tax time. Speaking of which…
- Get ahead of tax time – This one ties into expense reporting, but you must keep yourself organized throughout the year if you want to effectively deal with tax season. Save your receipts, your mileage, and track your income as you go—it’s way easier than backtracking and trying to remember everything you did.
- Automate business reports: Not only should you track your expenses, you should also monitor how your business is faring over time. Knowing how your income this month compares to the same month last year, and the year before, can be a valuable pieces of information when you’re assessing your future, what skills you need to work on, and whether you’ve got enough cash flow to keep yourself afloat. As you managing your career like a business, don’t neglect to put aside money into savings. Acorns provides a frictionless way to passively save hundreds each month, and Albert reads your spending and saving data to provide actionable tips for making improvement.
- Set a North Star: You should know where your business is going and you should hold yourself accountable when you go in the wrong direction. Perhaps you need to set and stick to daily, weekly, or monthly goals, or maybe you need to assess whether you are targeting the right prospective clients. Having a North Star helps you focus on what matters, and deprioritize all the “stuff” that doesn’t.
- Hire a virtual assistant: You need to know when to outsource. If you’re spending too much time on something and it would be more cost effective to pay someone else to do it while you work on a project for a client, that’s when you should consider hiring a right-hand to help carry the load. Zirtual is a startup that pairs pre-trained assistants with busy entrepreneurs. See here for the ultimate guide to remote workers.
- Hack your inbox: Tools like Boomerang can send emails in advance, set reminders when you need to follow-up on things, and better manage your email, so that you spend less time staring at your inbox. We’ve outlined five other Gmail-specific hacks here.
Much of being a successful freelancer comes in setting yourself up for success, which means using all of the tools that are at your disposal.
The “work smarter, not harder,” adage always applies—especially when you’re a solopreneur.