26

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-...


22

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 ...


20

I have a simple rule, that guides me on anything related to invoicing the client: the "sunshine test". Imagine at some stage in the future your client figures out that you've charged him for X, i.e. although it might have been buried in some other item on the final bill, suddenly there's sunlight shining upon it. Then ask yourself the question: Could I, ...


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

Frankly, this asks the wrong question. Even if you can verify hours worked, how can the customer tell you aren't "dragging your feet" - working slowly to increase your billable time? Or using some other nefarious tactic? Good business relationships rely on trust. You need to trust them, and they need to trust you. If you are starting a relationship with a ...


14

I'm usually rather slack in accounting, both ways. I won't deduct the time for my bathroom break, but I also won't charge you if I have a good idea during the weekend. If stuck, I may even take a walk in the park on project time, because thinking about the issue while breathing fresh air is more productive than just staring at the problem. I consider my ...


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,...


10

I agree with @Apfelsaft above. Freelancers are service providers. If you are getting the service, and you are happy with the bill, then look to other areas of your business that you can improve on. If you are getting the service and not happy with the bill, try find compromise or else throw them overboard and replace them. Let's say you do nit pick how ...


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 ...


7

I would say yes. bringing more people on to a project always creates more work, and I don't see any reason you shouldn't bill for that work. EDIT: from Peter's comment below, and to expand on this thought a bit more. I'm saying this assuming that since you are outsourcing, you are interfacing with the client directly. And by that mean handling all ...


7

Warning If anyone asked me to use such a framework, I would give the lead some serious second thoughts. If the customer has the time to micromanage me or look through such footage, they have focused on the wrong things (huge red flag project-wise). I have experience with this as an employee (call center environment) and it never ends well. What is ...


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 ...


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? ...


6

A continuation of my sarcastic comment. You cannot! Period! He can work 1h and rip you for 7, or he can work 14 and report 10. There are tools to record screenshots of this workspace and monitor number of keyboard strikes and mouse moves. But I can personally guarantee that they can trick that as well. I've been a lead of team where this tool told me they ...


5

Precise time tracking is just not possible in the way most of us work. The better you can do is : Track the time when you're focused on a project, and note down somewhere when you do little tasks on other projects When you have done lots of little task, make an estimate of the time you actually used on these side tasks. If you think it deserves a pay, then ...


5

That's a good question, but I don't think there's any purely logical answer to it. A surprising amount of business is still conducted on the honor system (with each side taking different things on trust). I have freelanced primarily in editing for print publications, and a little bit in design and writing. Some of my clients want an hourly fee, and others ...


5

I don't think it's reasonable to charge clients while on a break so personally would tend to stop the clock running when charging by the hour. On longer projects where a day rate or similar has been agreed, it's understandable that short breaks will be needed and this should probably be factored into the rate.


4

I would say that for anything less than a day's project, you don't charge for bathroom breaks, or any other interruption. If you're not using a time tracker program and take a short break somewhere, then you just work that much longer past the 8 hour mark. For anything that gets into a multi-day project, and definitely a 40 hour week situation, I would ...


4

A few things to note. Billing at 25 min is difficult because it is not easily divisible by 60. I bill in 30 min increments for remote work and 1 hour increments for on-site work. I have a 15 min "keep in touch" period which is unbillable if used to alert me to problems and seek advice on whether tech support is needed or not. In short if you are my ...


4

Timesnapper is a commercial windows application that does much of what you are looking for. It includes reporting with breakdown of applications being used and automatically takes screenshots on a time basis. I believe the data is recorded locally, so in some form it is in your control. Whether this is enough for your clients, I don't know.


4

As much as possible, I try to batch tasks rather than attend to tasks as they arrive. Ignoring emails apart from two or three times a day helps. If clients need to communicate with you urgently then they'll ring you. I don't tend to worry if I am working on one task and quickly attend to an unscheduled urgent task for another client as this tends to even ...


4

Those things like email replies are called "Advising" in freelancing world. Before you charge your client, make sure he understand that you are charging advising as well. You may charge him every reply, or accumulate minutes to 1 work hour and then charge him. I prefer to charge him full hours with explanation, like "advise on task 3 - 15 min, advise on ...


3

Even if you don't bill for the little interruptions, it's only fair to track your time. I've found that having the discipline to jot down your time throughout the day is paying back in several ways Your invoices are accurate from Client's perspective Your invoices are accurate from your perspective (you know how much each job has taken you) You're not ...


3

"design, writing, programming" is not clear enough either. With Design there is a creative phase which can't really be verified. Such a creative phase can take 20 minutes or 20 hours. With writing there could be a creative phase or even a research phase which is also difficult to verify. With programming there isn't the creative phase, planning maybe, but ...


3

I am sure that the last thing you want to hear about is another software tool, but I like the feature on KanbanFlow (https://kanbanflow.com/) that allows you to keep time for your tasks using the Pomodoro approach. Pomodoro sets up a 25-minute period of concentrated, highly focused work on the project followed by a five-minute break for stretching, going to ...


3

I agree with Neil here. Ethically, when I charge my client (for big projects, of course), I charge them by hour and yes, those hours are excluding Bathroom Breaks Snack Time House Catching on Fire Neighbor dropping in etc... Whenever you are in doubt, ask yourself the same question. When you hire a freelancer would you be ok if he or she charged you for ...


3

Toggl works for me for several years. It is an online service but they have a desktop app (as well as Android/iOS apps); Their desktop app detects the inactivity and asks you to keep or drop this time. The basic functionality is free and I like their online reporting features. They also allow downloading CSVs with your time and tasks; I used to write ...


3

The worst possible thing you can do as a freelance is to price yourself on an hourly basis. Doing so forces you to itemize innumerable items on invoices, and it requires that you track time spent on 5 minute phone calls and what have you. The inevitable outcome is getting micro-managed into oblivion by fussy clients -- clients which, by the way, you simply ...


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