Writers need to manage their time effectively – and knowing how to use Harvest Time Management Software can be just what writers need. In fact, time management can make or break a writing career. These tips for writers are based on project software called Harvest, which is designed to help writers use their time well.
“As a freelance copywriter, I often work on multiple projects simultaneously,” says Karen Marcus, M.A. “In order to honor budgets, invoice my clients accurately, and gain insights for future estimates, I track my time on each project. Until recently, I used a form that I created in Word. But, analyzing the data meant I had to spend time crunching numbers. I started looking around for an automated system that could track my hours and provide reports on the time I was spending. I took advantage of the free trial offers from Cashboard and Basecamp, but eventually settled on Harvest, which I found to be user-friendly and have the appropriate features for my needs.”
If procrastination is your problem, click Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – it’s one of my husband’s favorite time management books. Your goal as a writer is to make your time profitable — and either books or software can help with that.
In this guest post, Marcus shares her tips for using this time management software.
What is the Harvest Time Management Program?
Harvest is an online application that allows me to start a timer when I begin working on a particular task, and stop it when I finish. Or I can enter time for tasks that have already been completed. I can also add time to an already completed task. At any given time, I can see totals for each project, including indicators that show when I have exceeded estimated hours.
This time management software program also has the capability to prepare invoices, record expenses, and create customized reports. I don’t use the invoice or expense features (I perform those functions in other applications), but do find the report feature useful for viewing time information in various configurations. For example, I have a client that I charge hourly and invoice on a bimonthly basis. When I invoice, I set up a report to show me how much time I have spent during the previous two weeks on projects for that client. I can set it up to show, say, how many billable hours I have logged in a particular month, or how much time I spent on different phases within a given project.
Managing or archiving clients, projects, and tasks is easy, and I have the system set up to show on my dashboard only the projects in which I’m currently engaged.
Tips for Writers Using Harvest Time Management Software
1. Take advantage of the free software trial. In thirty days, you should be able to determine whether this project software meets your needs.
2. Determine your level. The Solo package will probably work best for most writers, since it allows a single user to set up unlimited projects. This package costs $12/month, and you can add users (e.g. subcontractors) if you need to, for an additional charge. The next level, Basic, allows up to 10 users for $40/month, and there is also a Business package that allows unlimited users for $90/month.
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3. Take the time to set up project details. Within each project, you can set up a variety of tasks, so you will know how much time you’re spending on research, drafting, editing, etc. Each task can be labeled as billable or not, allowing for more granular information in your reports.
4. Track ALL your writing time. Don’t forget that writers are their own clients. You can set up a project that tracks internal hours so you can determine how much time you’re spending setting up your blog, responding to e-mail, brainstorming article ideas, etc.
5. Download the time tracking widget. Rather than logging in every time you want to track your time, you can use a widget that sits on your desktop. This time management widget allows you to choose projects and add time to them in fewer steps. The information is synchronized with the full application, so you can use both of them without losing any data.
6. Customize invoices with your writer’s logo and information. This software doesn’t just help writers manage multiple assignments, it streamlines the invoicing process.
7. Integrate the Harvest time management software with applications you already use. It is compatible with iPhone, QuickBooks, Twitter, and WordPress, as well as others.
This is a great system for getting and staying organized; in fact, it may be one of the best ways you could invest in your writing career.
Have you tried Harvest? How did you like it? What other time management software programs have worked well for you?
For more career tips, read Job Security for Freelance Writers – Tips for a Steady Income.
Karen Marcus, M.A., has developed hundreds of documents for a wide range of businesses, including Hewlett-Packard Company, Intergraph Corporation, and over a dozen telecommunications companies. Her work also appears as part of the interpretive display at the Hoover Dam visitor center and in numerous business websites. For more information, visit Final Draft Communications.