45

It sounds like your wife may be a bit bored. She obviously wants to spend some time with you, but you also need to be able to focus on your work so that you get paid. One possible solution, one that may possibly get her excited, is to give her something important to do. While she may not be a web designer or a programmer or have the skills to do whatever ...


27

I, too, have a 15 minute minimum charge, and I stick to it 85% of the time because nothing ever takes "just a minute", and interruptions come with attendant friction. I built a timekeeping/workflow system for my consulting work. Each client has one or many projects; each project one or many tasks. I record time at the task level; the form has a javascript-...


23

I approach things somewhat differently. I answer customers via email, guaranteed responses free of charge that take less than 15 min free of charge. My reasoning here is that this gives me a chance to give them some ideas, whether I can do more for a charge, and then if I need to, I can throw more sales work at it (unbilled) to flesh out what is involved ...


21

Articles? Just talk to her. You need to set some base rules - things like working hours, when you can and cannot be interrupted and for what reasons you can. It is simple enough - if you are unable to complete your work, you will not get paid. And without money... well... I am sure she will understand this. If your contracts have them, the payment ...


19

Alternatively you could completely fire your hourly rate. It's a pain and I pretty much refuse to do it anymore unless the client is on retainer or specifically asks for it. Plus there's a good chance you're scaring business away if you bill a steep hourly rate.


16

Your client is a person, too. They have been late or missed deadlines at some point in their life as well. Unless you have a really aggressive client, they should understand that things happen. And if they are extremely upset about it.. they might not be the type of client you wan to keep around. I take a very relaxed approach to communicating with clients. ...


16

You're absolutely right assuming that your problem has very close relation to the problem of different time zones. So the answer would be much like the answer to the other question. Here are some ideas I found useful for myself, but YMMV, as usual: Combine There's no silver bullet. Phone, email, and instant messengers co-exist specifically because they ...


15

Time management is an issue and you have to figure out how to meet with customers if working a standard schedule full time. The larger issues are legal. You want to read over your employment contract a few times looking at the specifics of: Moonlighting clauses. When I worked at Microsoft, the contract said I had to have their permission to do any work ...


15

The same problem here. However it is not a problem any more due to a mutual understanding and my better planning. Let me explain it to you. The hardest part is to "make them understand" that it is a job and you have to work it regardless of the fact that you are sitting in your living room. And if you don't earn money or the job gets cancelled, will they ...


13

Is it possible? Yes, I've done that - work for multiple clients at the same time - for most of my time as a freelancer. How is it possible? For most clients (at least in my case) some weeks there's a lot of work (say building a new feature), some weeks there's little (them testing that feature, and responding to questions). That's part of the skill-set of a ...


12

Most of the answers I've seen thus far address the time tracking question, so I'll address the email part of the question: I don't charge clients for email responses. I chalk that up to 'investment time'. As in, I'm investing this time in answering a customer/potential customer's email because it may lead to doing business with them in the future. Of course,...


12

The easiest way to handle the short-notice work is to set up a Service Level Agreement (SLA). You can document how much notice the client must give, and how soon you will act, with financial requirements in each direction. Get this agreed, signed by management. Implement a basic ticket handling system and boom, you can bill extra for the urgent stuff. That ...


11

If you have a separate workspace with a door, signal with the door. Door open: I'm working but you can interrupt occasionally for a question. Door ajar: Please hold stuff for later but you can interrupt me if it's necessary. Door closed: I need to concentrate; interrupt me if there's blood or fire. No door? Some people have successfully used a distinctive ...


10

Per hour, my rule is, I bill only for time spent, and for all of time spent. Build in a buffer to your estimate, but if it is an estimate, be prepared to invoice above or below. In general when I produce an hourly estimate I put in a buffer of 50-100% depending on unknowns because if I can bill under estimate customers are happy. Some times, customers ...


10

In your Scope of Work contract, you should always have a clause about unforeseen circumstances that could introduce delays. I come from the IT Services industry, and that is one thing we always mention: The absolute minimum completion time/date, and the potential end time/date, for anything that may come up. I get to deal with almost a thousand clients ...


10

It's not uncommon for freelance developers to charge double-time for last minute, urgent items. In fact, I recommend it. As freelancers, we often get 'last minute urgent work' through no fault of our own. In effect, charging a premium for 'urgent' work is a good way to train clients to respect your worth and your time - but also provide an option that will ...


10

Since you are training yourself as a freelancer, you are also training yourself as a project manager, finance manager, negotiator and boss. Freelancing is just a group name for 5-6 roles (I think that once a guy told me that I am doing the work for 6 men). So besides training your coding skills, you'll have to train other skills as well. One of them is ...


10

Well I also did some deductions after I was late in the project. I took down my hourly price 25%. In the end, the client was happy, but I am not sure I did the right way. After this event, I started informing clients as soon as I run across the bottleneck or slow task by explaining them why I estimated atask for X hours and now realize it will take Y hours....


9

I tell customers who ask for detailed itemization of time usage that "this is not a service I provide". If pressed, I note that tracking that level of detail for him would create administrative overhead for you, and that you would either have to tack that time on to his bill, or adjust your rates to compensate. Since your goal is to provide value to your ...


9

In literal terms, be your own boss in every sense of the word. When I find that motivation for client projects is slipping I fall into "boss" mode. That is, I set a schedule for work and adhere to it as if I had a boss. It doesn't have to be a strict 9 to 5 schedule, but a block of time -- 4, 6 or 8 hrs -- every day where I will not touch anything other ...


8

Irrespective of whether you are following Agile practices, if you do not involve the client from the outset, or someone else who can make decisions about project deliverables on behalf of the client (a Business Stakeholder in Agile parlance), then the odds are stacked very heavily against you actually delivering a product that the client wants and can use. ...


8

In my experience, it depends on the client. Some clients like to micro manage and in this case it is probably better to wait until the website is nearing completion before showing them. Other clients may have some useful input along the way and can be helpful. The problem with a new client is that you may not be able to tell which type of client you have. ...


8

she still owes me for the work I've done How long has she owed you and how much? If she's past due on a payment, or owes you thousands, that could be enough reason to stop right there. But should I refund her any money because I'm quitting? Not unless you had a formal agreement to do work that you haven't already done, or she paid you for work you haven'...


7

Your client should know that you are in a different time zone and he should be well aware that you have your working hours and they have theirs. If you have a short time-frame where both of you are "awake", you may agree to use this for synchronous communication (e.g. by phone or real-time chat). Rest of the time, you may communicate via email and the ...


7

Agree with Oded that talking should come first. Communication. A little story of my own FWIW. My dad kept dropping in during work hours, despite my reminding him several times that I really needed to focus on work during the day and couldn't spend a lot of time chatting. He finally got the point after I sent him an invoice. He shows up looking for a coffee ...


7

I myself got in the trap of "the desire to work only on my personal projects" but the problem is that you need cash without which your personal projects (until they'll pay-off) are domed to failure. I tried to work less hours on personal projects and be more organized but I failed. So, this is what I did and worked for my case: I shifted all my attention ...


7

You cannot control if they work, nor you should. You should control their result! Make a good system of tasks and milestones and make work-hour calculations for each task. If they are beginners, add some percentage to it and tell them to stick to that calculations meaning that they will be paid for those specific work hours only. All hours above that is ...


7

I would say that your rate is low. If you remember, freelancers rates are higher than normal rates because with our work we have to save money for rainy periods. So for example, if $20/h is enough for you to live through the whole year and annual average of your work is 50% (50% of all your time), then your rate must not be lower than $40/h. This way, you ...


6

In general prompt communication is a good thing. You should let your client know as soon as possible what the problems are so that if chances need to be made to the work plan/scope of work, they can de done in a way you both can live with. Maybe they will decide it is too much trouble and pay you for work done. Maybe they will decide they want to expand ...


6

In my experience this is a huge flag. For one reason or another trust has broken down with the client, which is indicative by them asking for an itemized report. One way to salvage the relationship is to simply ask them what is the motivation behind the request for an itemized report? Ask them if they feel like they're getting less than what they paid for? ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible