A friend of mine is a wiz with taxes, especially now that she has TurboTax. She runs a home business, her husband works and freelances, and she can still figure them out. She’s tried to encourage me to do my own, but I refuse. I would rather go to the dentist (and the dentist is top on my list of things to avoid at all costs).
For me, doing my own taxes would cost me more than paying an accountant because I’d spend hours checking, double checking, and rechecking everything (not to mention all of the stressing out). Those are hours I wouldn’t get paid for writing, which could add up to more money than if I’d just hired the accountant.
When you freelance, time is literally money. You need to guard it so you aren’t wasting it. Here are seven ways I’ve wasted time – and money – and some tips on how to avoid it.
Do It Yourself: If you’re an artistic person, designing your own website could be easy, but if you struggle to draw a stick figure, you’re wasting your time. Know your limits and hire a professional when needed.
Instant Messenger: Skype is a great way for me to stay in touch with clients, but one quick question often turns into several minutes of chit chat and emojis. Do this multiple times a day, and the time adds up. When you’re ready to work, change your status to ‘unavailable.’
Phone Calls: It can take you thirty minutes to talk about something that could have been discussed in two emails. If you have a client who insists on phone calls, include that time in your cost (and consider setting time limits).
Facebook: This can be tricky, since I have colleagues who prefer to use Facebook’s IM. Checking one message usually leads to mindless scrolling. My solution – I have Facebook messenger on my phone, and it beeps at me when someone contacts me.
Digital Breaks: You step away from your desk and pick up your phone or tablet. Next thing you know, thirty minutes are gone. If you need to get back to work, set a timer so you don’t get carried away.
Lunch: It’s tempting to make fresh, healthy meals every afternoon, but that can easily push your lunch break over an hour. Plan like you’re going to an office and make something the night before.
Family & Friends: When you work from home, you’ll get phone calls all day. No matter how good your intentions, hours can slip away as you make plans and check in with people. Either wait until after hours, or set a timer so you don’t talk too long.
Be aware of these potential time wasters, and try to keep them out of your work day. Save them for after hours so you can make the most of your day.