When I left my job four years ago to “change the online world” I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I make a few web 2.0 applications and just live happily ever after on ad revenues. I’m not exactly a business kind of guy…
After about a year I started freelancing to make ends meet. And because I had no clue about pricing I started to track my time spent on various projects. It felt like being my own exploitative capitalist boss. Especially because I never had the “privilege” of having even my peetime tracked by someone. So this was new. But if I look back now it was well worth it.
Being a freelancer/indie/self-employed you face a serious problem: flexible working time leads to working at all times. Or at least it’s easy to fall into that trap. Just take a look at these two charts:
The first shows my working time by day of week the second by hour of day. On both charts blue is the actual data, red is what I would call normal. Ideally I would work only on weekdays and never on weekends. From 8am to 4pm fulltime and maybe from 4pm to 8pm halftime (every second week on some side project). In contrast to that I work 7 days a week and all day long except for some sleep (typically from 3am to 9am). Even if my cumulated working time for a week never exceeded 40 hours (which it does) I wouldn’t call this schedule healthy.
So how does time tracking help? By identifying the problem. It is of course only a step towards the solution which is change. But if you don’t know what the problem is you cannot change.