Tracking Time


Apr 2014

One of the big differences between working as employee and working as freelancer is: The experience of time.

When I was employed, time evaporated. You try to get at work before 9AM (not always making it), being productive for one hour, having the daily standup around 10h30 (this Vooza persiflage is just great), being bored until noon, lunch, finally finding flow for some time in the afternoon, lasting - in the best case - until 6PM.

Finally, heading home and working on side-projects that are fun.

As a freelancer, time feels totally different. When a day starts, you must write emails to get new projects. Then, you empathize with potential clients to understand their problems. You try to squeeze in some time for programming and writing. During lunch, you feel like being in a networking event. Back from lunch, the flow experience starts immediatly since there all these great options and new combinations of interests that match both, yours and those of your clients.

The music as freelancer feels much more inspiring. May be, because you are more creative. Switching off all distractions (like Twitter, Hacker news, newspapers, skype) feels much more natural. In the evenings, the trade-off of networking events and private time and important time-outs is much more important.

Then, after some days, the days arrive that you count the hours that you worked.

Personal accounting of a freelancer is a really, really big difference from being employed. As freelancer, hours directly map to income. Yet, these hours are different from the 8 hours of a normal working day.

When you are employed, you account hours for one single project, day in and day out. As freelancer, you must account time to multiple projects a day. It is much more important to have a plan for a day, or at least for a couple of hours to get some work done. You always have the base worries of an empty project pipeline (= no income) and growing your reputation (= delivering high quality work).

As freelancer, output is more important than presence. As employee, presence can be more important.

Working as freelancer for sure is riskier. Being employed, can yield a higher income. Yet helping people and businesses when they have real pains, or being part of greenfield projects, makes the time as freelancer very rewarding so far. And, in contrast to being employed, counting hours can help you plan and set priorities, instead of someone else’s.

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