Whether you work in construction or technology, you’ll know that contracting can be one of the most rewarding career paths. Not only do you get to choose projects you work on and set your hours, but you’ll likely earn more than a full-time worker. But those benefits come with some drawbacks – one being working longer hours and struggling to balance work and play. Below, we offer some time-saving hacks so you can enjoy more time with loved ones.
- Work with an agency
One of the biggest drawbacks of working for yourself is finding clients or contracts – and if you’re not a natural salesperson, it’s doubly difficult. By working with an agency, you’ll have a steady stream of new clients coming your way, and when you finish up on one project, the next one will be just around the corner, so you don’t have to worry about dry spells at work.
- Use an umbrella company
If you hate doing your own bookkeeping and invoicing, consider working with an umbrella contracting company, who’ll effectively employ you and give you a salary post-tax. It’s a pretty simple solution – your client or agency will pay the umbrella company, who’ll deduct any tax and National Insurance, and pay you via PAYE once per month. No more headaches or paperwork – and enjoy the benefits of being an employee rather than self-employed, too!
- Take photos of your expenses
Accrue a lot of expenses working as a contractor? You legally need to hold onto receipts and invoices for up to six years, according to HMRC, so take photos of all of your documents in case they go missing. Online bookkeeping software can also be useful, but you can save money by sticking all sheets, invoices, and receipts into a handy Google Drive for reference.
- Automate networking
The key to a successful contractor is networking with potential employers and clients. You can automate at least some of the process by scheduling posts for your LinkedIn in advance and using a tool like Zopto – but be careful you don’t breach LinkedIn’s terms. Alternatively, you can work with a firm that offers affordable social media management to do it for you.
- Ask to work remotely
As the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, you don’t need to physically be at work to get a good job done. If you’re able to work from home, ask your client if they’re happy for you to do so. You could stress that you’re professional, it’ll save time, and you can quote them a lower amount for the project. Or bridge the gap by working in the office a couple of days per week.
- Talk about project extensions
If you’re sick and tired of moving between contracts every few weeks, speak to your client about the possibility of extending your contract and working with them on a long-term basis. There may be scope for your services and expertise in another part of the organisation.
- Hold meetings virtually
It’s so frustrating having to travel hundreds of miles for meetings and catch-ups with clients when you could do everything from home. Insist on Skype calls and do as much as you can virtually. Not only is it a massive time-saver, but it’s good for the planet and your wallet.
- Rely on free software
Finally, rely on free software. Project management software like Basecamp can keep your work in one place, whilst collaboration tools like Google Meet and Slack can also cut down some of the barriers and make it easier to contact colleagues and fellow contractors. Don’t be afraid of suggesting tools and ways for your client to optimise their working processes.
Do you have any hacks to recommend? Let us know on social media and check back soon for more news and time-saving advice for freelancers, contractors, and the self-employed.