3 proven methods for tracking your time
Tracking your time is a gamechanger in any freelance business.
If you’re not doing it yet, then you’re missing a trick.
It can tell you more about your business than you’d ever imagine.
And it can give you insights that help you make informed decisions with confidence.
- How will you know what a reasonable rate per word is if you don’t know how many words you can translate in an hour?
- Unless you know how long a certain task normally takes you, how are you ever going to know how much to charge for it?
- How are you going to resist a client trying to negotiate your rates if you don’t have cold hard numbers to base said rates on?
- And how will you know how much work you can actually fit into your week?
Something as simple as tracking your time can tell you all that and so much more.
With the data on your side, you’ll feel more informed and empowered to grow your business on your terms.
Right, but how can I track my time?
Okay, so we’re all in agreement that tracking our time is a very good idea.
So, the next step is to figure out how you’re actually going to do it!
What you need is a trusty time tracking tool that you can easily use day in, day out, and will give you some insights into what you’re spending your time on.
Bear in mind that it’ll take a while to build up a useful bank of data you can reliably base your decisions on.
Whichever tool you choose, you need to use it consistently for a while for it to be of any real value.
Here are two suggestions for tools that lots of translators use and find work really well for them.
Toggl is a very well known time tracking app that’s used by businesses of all shapes and sizes.
You can add each of your clients to it, then add individual jobs under each of them.
Just click the play button when you get started, then turn it off when you’re done or you take a break.
You can use it on your computer or your phone. Whatever suits you best.
You’ll be able to see exactly how you’re using your time. You’ll know how long that 1,000 words actually take you to translate, or how long you need to subtitle that four-minute video.
A lot of translators find Toggl, or similar tools, work really well for them. The only downside is that you have to manually add each job, which can feel like a faff if you’re also recording the job elsewhere.
Plus, if you have a lot going on, or if you’re just naturally a bit forgetful, you may well forget to put the job in at all.
If you’re the forgetful type, you might find the next tool we’re going to look at is a better fit for you.
RescueTime works differently to most other time tracking apps, as you don’t have to manually turn it on and off every time you take a break or start working on a different job.
It works automatically in the background, recording what you get up to on your computer.
There’s a free version that will just let you know how much time you’ve spent on Microsoft Word, Excel, CAT tool, email, social media and more.
Then there’s a paid version that will record exactly how much time you spend on a particular document within Word, or on a particular project within your CAT tool.
You can decide what’s classed as productive and what’s classed as procrastination.
It provides you with handy reports that help you analyse what you’ve been spending your time on.
It will show you how long you’ve spent on a certain project without you having to turn a tracker on and off.
One of the big upsides of a tool like RescueTime is that it will give you a record of how long you’re spending on things that aren’t paid client work.
Because when you’re running your own business there are all kinds of important things you have to spend your time on that aren’t billable.
But if you’re using a tool you have to turn on and off, you’re probably not going to record how long it took you to write your LinkedIn posts for the week.
And that’s useful information to have when it comes to planning your time, or deciding what your hourly rate should be, as you can take that non-billable work into account.
Some people choose to use an automatic tool like RescueTime in the background just to record time spent on these marketing or admin tasks.
They then use another tool they actively turn on and off for client projects to keep a closer eye on them.
Surprise, surprise! You knew we’d get round to this one eventually, didn’t you?
Here at LSP.expert we’re such huge believers in the power of tracking your time that we built a time tracker into our platform, designed especially for linguists.
When we first set out to create our all-in-one tool, we knew a time tracker had to be a big part of it.
That’s because we were a bit fed up with faffing around with multiple different tools to keep our businesses organised.
It was all getting far too complicated, so we wanted to combine all the different tools, apps and programs we were using into one handy, custom-built platform.
With LSP.expert you can add the details of the job, then just turn on the time tracker whenever you’re working on it.
If you ever forget to turn it on (or off) you can also add or edit time manually!
For every job you do, the platform will tell you what your profitability per hour is. But that’s not all!
The best thing about tracking your time through LSP.expert is you get all kinds of easy-to-understand reports based on your data.
You’ll be able to see which of your services and clients are most profitable, which services take up the majority of your time, and more.
You can use these reports to make decisions about what direction to take your business in.
You might be surprised at what the numbers tell you.
For example, your most profitable client might not be the one you charge the highest per-word translation rate.
If you work quickly, your hourly rate for a certain client might be better than your per-word rate would suggest. And if it’s slow, laborious work, the opposite might be true.
But don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself!
We offer a 30-day free trial with absolutely no strings attached, so you can see just what a big difference LSP.expert could make to your translation business.
You’ll never look back
Whatever tool you choose to track your time, it’s a business decision you won’t regret.
Once you’ve started doing it, you’ll wonder how you ever ran your business without that all-important data!
Take control of your time, and your business will take control of itself.