Applying Lean Solutions to Freelancing Work
Lean solutions are a new concept introduced in large companies, overwhelmed by internal processes and controls, to the point that they almost missed the launch date for a product. As a freelancer, your first thought is that this has nothing to do with you. But have a little patience and read on, because this article is for you and is meant to make your life simpler.
Lean solutions, as a whole, mean implementing an integrated work strategy, taking into account everything, from pitching your client to billing for the project. It is a system of working, a mentality that every aspect of your work should be ruled by efficiency. So let’s get started and make you work smarter, not harder.
This is an essential part of lean solutions for work: seeing how work time is spent and allocating it efficiently. You can use apps such as Toggl (which comes with a desktop widget) to input every second of your work day and then analyze how much time you actually spent working, and how much with tasks such as phone calls, emails, billing, internet browsing.
Once you realize that every day you lose at least 1-2 hours by taking breaks in your work to do other stuff you just remembered, you will find the way to organize each activity in an uninterrupted period of time. This is also great if your client requires evidence of how much time you spent on his project.
Planner and Memory Aid
You will stop forgetting stuff to do and suddenly remember when you are working on something else if you have an efficient planner app, like a personal secretary, where you set your tasks, alerts for deadlines and other issues and get a reminder ahead of time so you can do everything without rush. We recommend Desktop Reminder, which also happens to be free.
Accounting and Billing
Never lose sight of your expenses, due taxes and owed invoices. This is a crucial aspect in learning lean work systems. A lot of time is spent calculating your taxes, remembering when an invoice is due and if the client paid on time, or how much penalty he owes if he did not. Keep everything together with a great online solution, Freshbooks, trusted by over 2 million freelancers world wide, which offers a clear, intuitive platform for managing your revenues and expenses and getting accounting reports to help you fill in your tax returns.
Communications and Data Storage
If you want to be always in touch with your clients all over the world, and email is just not enough (and it usually is not), then Skype is what you need, offering free computer audio/video chat and great international rates for VoIP phone calls. And while you’re on the line with the client, show him your work in progress over a shared data storage work space such as Google Docs and Google Drive. In their current offer, you get 15 GB of storage for free or 100 GB of storage for less than $2 per month.
Choose a reputable bank which offers a great Internet banking service with mobile integration (checking balance, making transfers and purchases from the smartphone).
Adding these tools and using them every day in your work will help you be more organized, lose less time and eliminate pointless tasks which can be done online or scheduled as automated processes. Start practicing lean solutions and tell us how much time you are saving and how many positive changes you’ve noticed in your life and work.
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