As a contractor or freelancer with your own limited company, time is money. Even though you work for yourself, you are contracted to make sure you complete the job to the best of your ability.
In the competitive contracting and freelancing industry, there’s no time for poor time management. So we’ve put together a few helpful tools and techniques to help you improve your time management and reduce your limited company admin.
1. Keep a weekly and daily task list
You might be aware of all the tasks you have to complete on a day-to-day basis, but sometimes when things get hectic and others ask for your help, the less important but necessary tasks may slip your mind.
Keeping a task list will give you a few less things to remember. Write your list of tasks for the week on Monday or even the Friday before, and then allocate these out to yourself each day in a daily list. If you prefer technology over paper, Google Calendar is the perfect task planning tool.
It may seem tedious to take time out of your day to write down tasks, but it really will help you be more organised, and will help you see if you are overscheduling or under scheduling yourself.
2. Schedule your most important tasks to do first
When scheduling your day, place your most important tasks at the top of your list to do first, as these will likely be the ones that take the most time. If you tackle the hardest and most important jobs first, you will feel a higher sense of accomplishment, which will motivate you to get everything else done.
Author of award-winning time management book ‘Eat That Frog’, Brian Tracy, said “…If you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then persist until the task is complete before you move on to something else.”
3. Set a specific time each week to take care of your admin, such as updating timesheets and claiming expenses
Being a contractor or freelancer with a limited company comes with a bit of admin, such as filling in weekly timesheets and claiming expenses through your accountant via a web portal. These are small tasks that you must do in order to get paid and to receive tax relief on expenses, so set a specific time each week to complete these tasks, and get them out of the way so you can enjoy your free time. For example, take half an hour on a Saturday morning to input your hours on your timesheet (depending on when you need to submit your timesheet by, of course).
4. Use apps to track mileage and store expense information
If you don’t have time to log into your accountant’s web portal or keep track of your expenses when you’re on the go, use mobile apps to help store information. Apps can help you track things like mileage and expenses for you, so you don’t have to keep written logs for later when you need to claim them.
MileIQ is an app that automatically detects when you are driving and logs your mileage for you, so you don’t have to reset your trip odometer every time you drive for your contract.
Evernote is an app in which you can store notes and audio recordings, which is great for remembering what expenses you’ve incurred and need to claim later. When you’re a contractor or freelancer with limited company, you have to keep copies of expense receipts for six years in case HMRC request to see them, however you won’t necessarily need them to claim your expenses on a weekly or monthly basis. This is why it’s a good idea to use an app so you can have the information on hand, and keep your receipts in a safe and secure place until you need them.
Not sure what expenses you can claim through your limited company? Read our blog to find out.
5. Have the ability to say ‘no’
Feeling overworked or feel like you can’t get to everything on your list? If you get requests for extra help from colleagues or your clients, don’t forget that you have the ability to say no. That’s the beauty of working independently – you are paid to do what was laid out in the contract and you don’t have to take on other work which could distract you from completing the job you are meant to do. Of course, helping out your client here and there can help you build a mutually beneficial relationship with them, however you must remember what you were originally set out to do.
You also don’t want to take on so much extra work that you have no free time to yourself. One of the main benefits of contracting is the possibility of a better work-life balance, so you should take advantage of this.
Managing your time efficiently is easier said than done, but practising good time management and making it a habit will help you be more efficient as a limited company contractor, and will help you enjoy a more stress-free and rewarding career.
Have more tips for time management you wish to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Read more about contracting through a limited company.