Budgeting my time and managing my productivity
The way I manage my time has been a process that has developed over time but I think that my most recent iteration has finally hit the perfect balance for my productivity.  I really like digital solutions and the main app I use for managing deadlines, invoicing and admin is Harvest.
This app is web based and also offers a synchronised mobile app which is perfectly suited for me as I prefer digital records to notes, lists and paper solutions. I started out using this app long before I became a freelance Surface Pattern Designer but it is now something I rely on heavily for helping me to make a lot of financial decisions. By knowing how much time and budget is being spent in my business, I can make more informed decisions about strategy, marketing and pricing.
Specifically, Harvest allows me to set budgeted deadlines against my workload which really changes the way that I approach my work. It makes me a lot more organised and encourages me to plan carefully in advance, fully utilising my experience. In other design roles, I have used time tracking but in this way, I can also manage the projects themselves, setting budgets and tasks.
The invoicing feature not only pulls in my tracked time and budget but allows you to create one-off invoices which is handy for fixed-fee pricing which I deal with a lot in my work. Invoices can be sent as 'web invoices' which basically means that your client will see a handy, user-friendly button allowing them to 'Pay by Card'. They will also be able to download a hard copy of the PDF of your invoice for their records. Some of my clients prefer to pay more traditionally and I can edit the invoice to include payment information. This is perfect because my client then has the option of paying immediately by card or in their own time by transfer.
I personally find the pricing to be fair and well scaled to increase with my business needs. Others have asked me for advice on what I use for invoicing and payments so I decided to write this post in the hope that others could benefit and as a good opportunity to share some insight about how budgeted time tracking helps improve my productivity.