4 Ways to Increase Your Billable Time
The ultimate goal of freelancers is to decrease business expenses and increase billable income, therefore, increasing profitability. Pretty simple. But, if not aware of where you are spending your time, non-billable hours can creep up on you fast! It can be so easy to spend a whole day answering e-mails and filtering through social media messages, when in reality, that's not the best use of time for your business.
Here are 4 tips on how to increase your billable hours:
1. Time track efficiently
Time tracking software has saved me so. much. time. Seriously. I use Harvest for time tracking and invoicing my clients. It's also dirt cheap at $12/month. I have always tracked my time, but I never used to detail every task as much as I do now. It's nice to have a history of each project, even if you just use it for personal learnings (ex. next project I shouldn't spend so much doing X). It also helps give proper estimates when similar projects come in, to understand if the engagement was worthwhile and if you should increase your costs for next time.
2. Track non-billable hours
I never used to track non-billable hours — until now. Even if it's just for my personal reference at month end, it can make for a good comparison to your billable hours. Even though 100 hours of non-billable time doesn't sound like a lot, it can add up thousands of dollars in potential income lost. Non-billable hours are unavoidable tasks that every freelance has to do in order to stay in business (responding to leads, writing blog content), but just being aware of where you are spending your time can help you make adjustments more easily if you're going to be short on cash one month.
3. Delegate tasks you don't enjoy
I personally don't do this just yet, but I know of other freelancers that outsource tasks such as accounting. The obvious downside is that it does increase your expenses. It's a decision you have to make if increasing your billable hours is worth the cost of hiring someone else. I imagine working for a few extra hours or absorbing the cost, in order to avoid doing tasks you truly dislike is probably worth it.
4. Less distractions
The best way I handle this is to only work on one task at a time. Even though I have multiple projects that need attention within a day, I appropriately delegate a certain amount of hours to each. I know that there are many techniques, tips and secrets on increasing your productivity, but it's amazing how much you can accomplish when you keep it simple by trying to do less and avoid multi-tasking.
5. Work more
You could always simply increase the amount of hours you work. If you follow the first 3 steps above, hopefully you can utilize your time more effectively so that you don't have to just "work more." There are always consequences to working more hours in the long run — such as stress, less sleep and exercise, and time with loved ones. Again, it's a personal decision you have to make for your business.