Organizing for Freelancing

Organizing for Freelancing

For three years I have played with this little internet marketing business on the side. For two years it has surpassed and continues to surpass my pay at my 9 to 5 job.

Now my 9 to 5 job is doing the exact same thing. When I see the same tactics and techniques used on a whole new market work even better than they did with with ones I had worked with before, let’s me know that with a little more structure, planning and automation, thing thing can become huge.

My home working plan before was to write down notes throughout the day, go through them when I get home, and pick a project to work from. It was a system of linear to do lists. No schedules because the time available to work was so sporadic and unpredictable.

But as I did this, gradually developed categories and priorities. Money versus time put in. Now as I take on the third hat with freelance work and consulting, I realize that much more is needed.

I started with Google calender, because it was free and me an my wife can work sync my work scheduling with our home scheduling. Our “in our head” schedules have clashed to many times. We both now use a custom Google home page with our calenders on it. I took advantage of the cell phone alerts.

I still like the to do list type organizer, but I needed levels broken into clients, projects, and then the final to do list, but not much else. I didn’t need bells and whistles. Most the tasks that have made it to the to do list level have already been fleshed out enough to start working on. I don’t need to write more than a sentence to describe a task.

I found this through BackPack for now by breaking clients into pages and then creating lists for each seperate project. I also found a Firefox extension for instant posting, that way I can add tasks on the fly. Of course, Backpack comes with it’s own calender if you pay for membership. But the need to sync with my wife means I still will be using Google. If only Google could create a Backpack like system to synch with their calender.

For time tracking, I found I looked at a lot and most were to complex, geared to a business with employees rather than a one man show. You can set clients, categories, projects and tasks and add notes each time you work on a task and were smart enough to add a popup window where you can click now to start and stop your time. You would be surprised at how many time tracking apps didn’t have this functionality. You had to add hours manually. And best of all, it’s free. I can export the reports in csv and import them into OpenOffice.

Well that’s where I’m at now. Not sure if I stated the obvious with this post, but I searched for posts like this on the net: concise, to the point steps to get your ducks in a row and preventing others from shuffling them.

Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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