For self-employed people, getting away from work can be a challenge. After you’ve built up your business enough to stay busy, it’s sometimes hard to let it go for a while and just relax. It requires quite a psychological gear shift, but that can be accommodated with better organization.
Organization, in the world of work, ensures that related things are kept grouped together in some sensible way. For instance, all of the information related to completing a project can be contained in one program that is specifically geared toward that task. This has more benefits than merely making it easier to track time and bill, however, and some of them have nothing to do with work.
Turning it Off
At some point, everyone needs a break from their work. The human brain is simply not set up so that it can expend constant attention on the same task. After a while, never being able to get away from work can become frustrating and can destroy the joy that should characterize self-employment.
Some advice holds that we should just turn off our smartphones now and then. While that’s simple advice, it’s not necessarily workable advice and it doesn’t really solve the problem. The issue with not being able to get away from work isn’t always that constant communication is available but, rather, it has to do with the fact that the technology that makes that communication possible is not being used correctly. There are better ways.
The Digital Wall
For most independent contractors, the tools of their trade where communication is concerned will be a smartphone and a computer. Both of them have the capacity to run several different programs and this is something that too few self-employed people exploit. There are some common mistakes that people make that set them up for a life where they can never get away from work. They include:
- Using one email address for business and personal communications.
- Using the same time management tool for personal and business use.
- Not using technology as well as they could, resulting in more interruptive communication being used.
The last point may seem more complex than is actually the case. It simply means, for example, not using a time-tracking tool that provides a communication resource and, therefore, having to take calls or respond to emails outside the system. Because those emails and phone calls come through in the same way that personal ones would, they can go a long way toward interrupting time that you might want to spend just getting some peace and quiet and being away from work for a while.
The Organizational Solution
Good time tracking tools allow for communication related to a project to be contained within a discrete system. When you want to get away from work, you don’t have to worry about being interrupted by an email alert or a phone call related to work, as the work-related communication only takes place over one system.
For example, some time tracking tools allow the user to access information on mobile devices. This means that they still have all the advantages of being available at all times to get updates related to a project. If that user wants some time to not think about the project, they can just ignore any alerts from that system or shut it down altogether. The phones still takes calls, the email still sends alerts and the instant messaging system still works, but everything is separated in a way that allows the user to get away from it all.
This type of organization compartmentalizes information so that it can be accessed when needed, but so that information updates don’t cause unwanted interruptions.
Freedom and Availability
It is possible to be available to clients and to still have one’s freedom to get away from them. Time tracking software can be a big part of this. When clients and contractors are sharing the same information over a time tracking tool, a lot of unnecessary emails and calls are eliminated. For instance, rather than a client having to call and ask how much time went into a project over the last week, they can just check the time tracking tool and find out for themselves. If they need to make a note on that tool, they can do so, ensuring that it seen when the contractor logs in again and not interrupting anyone’s evening or weekend with a call or an email.
This also allow mobile devices to be used in a way that fosters organization rather than chaos. This inevitably means that efficiency levels are increased and that users don’t end up having to fish through their email boxes or voicemails to recover information related to a project. It also ensures that they don’t miss any communications, as it’s kept live on the system and can be accessed whenever needed.
Making it Convenient
Technology should make things more, not less, convenient. Unfortunately, a lot of software out there is designed in a way that makes it necessary to spend a lot of time managing the software itself rather than using it as a tool to manage something else.
Look for features such as:
- Timers: They work better than entering time manually.
- Shared Communication: Eliminates redundancy and frustration.
- Cross-Platform: So people can see it on their desktop or mobile device.
- Data Recording: Timesheets, projects notes and so forth should be printable.
With this type of software, communication is better and organization is vastly increased. Everything related to a project is contained in the same system and that makes it much easier for contractors to find information when they need it or update clients on progress. Nothing is lost, so no one can say that they didn’t or that some other communications glitch caused an error.
For self-employed people, organization means more profit and better results, but it also means freedom. Without that, there’s really no point in being self-employed at all and it becomes more of a hassle than having a regular job.