As freelancers, one of the best tools at our disposal is the ability to track time. Tracking the time you spend on projects and on different parts of a project helps you understand how you work and how much to charge for your work. If you're billing hourly, it's obviously important. But it's more important if you're not billing hourly. You need to understand how you are spending your time, where you can be more productive and how much time you're actually spending (and most of us spend way more than what we estimate). This all helps you to better estimate project timelines and budgets which ultimately means you are compensated fairly for your time.
There are so many tools out there for time tracking and the thought of learning yet another tool for my day-to-day seemed absolutely exhausting to me, but my friend Christina Truong recommended Toggl and let me tell you, I love it!
First, the learning curve was nothing. It's dead easy. You just type in what you're working on and hit start. Just like that the clock is running. If you want to get specific, you can add clients and projects so you can track specific tasks and file them for each project/client. At the end of the week, Toggl sends you a report of how you spent your time. You can also look at your day, week or month and view reports on how you spent your time.
Best of all, it's free!
I absolutely love podcasts! I get bored listening to music most of the time and listening to a podcast helps me stay at my desk when I'm working at home and keeps me entertained and intellectually stimulated. That last part isn't always true but there's a few podcasts I come back to time and time again, one of my favorites being Design Matters by Debbie Millman. But recently I found another fantastic podcast, Radiolab. Radiolab is a "show about curiosity" or so they say on their website, but it's true. Their topics range from scientific to creative to social and really explore the human experience. It's a thought-provoking show that is digestible (approx. 30 mins in length) and not at all boring.
My favourite episodes so far are: Speedy Beet (did Beethoven intend his music to be heard differently?) and The Trust Engineers (is Facebook tweaking our behaviour?). I've only just started listening to this but I already know that I'll have many more to add to this list.
After hearing Lisa's story on The Great Discontent, I stumbled through her site and found this post she had written early this year about getting older and it made me love her more. She talks about realizing that her age was now showing (a fact that we will all encounter) which may be a hard realization for most of us.
I'm not at a point where I feel my age is showing and I am still young, relatively speaking. And the little of what I have seen, like my first gray–no white hair and the start of laugh lines on my face, has not shaken me. But I am keenly aware of our mortality and how aging is one of the hardest things we all have to experience. I admire women (I don't know if men worry as much as women about aging and having that show) who own their age, especially those who rock silver or white hair. I hope I become one of them. Perhaps I'll look like Storm... hmm.
Anyway, Lisa's post was eloquent and honest and it's worth a read. She describes herself as a late bloomer, having discovered her art in her early 30s and finding it as a career (after a successful first career in education) in her 40s. That simple fact–that she was able to find her art and make a living from it was a nice contrast to the top 30 under 30 lists or top 20 under 20 lists of the talented youngsters we see. Talent and discovery can emerge at any point in your life. It's your choice to decide whether you want to grab hold of it, no matter what age.