I've only done set price jobs, but I'm about to do my first hourly job. I think I know what to do (from what I've read on the site and forum posts) but since it's my first, I want to run it by the veterans to make sure I don't mess anything up.
My understanding is I install the Upwork Desktop App here...
After that, I login into it, select the project in question, and turn on a "timer" which will track my time while taking screenshots in order to protect both myself and the client. The client will have payment setup on their end (otherwise I assume I can't even run the project timer?) which will then pay me weekly.
Is that basically it? Seems easy enough, but I admit, it feels strange to have software monitoring my screen. Not that I think I'll ever have sensitive info pop-up, but I don't know what else the Desktop App might be monitoring as it feels very "Big Brother." It'll also make me feel like my fingers always have to be moving, otherwise, if I pause to think for a few minutes, I'll feel like I'm slacking as the software can't track you simply trying to "gather your thoughts."
Anyway, please let me know if I'm understanding correctly, and any other thoughts or tips that might help me with my first foray into this territory. Thanks.
re: "Meaning, memos and activities are items to fill in on the Desktop App as I go?"
Memos: You type a brief description of what you are working on.
Activity Level: The Desktop App records your mouse/keyboard activity level. How much activity per minute. So you can't just turn time tracking on and then go bake a cake. You need to be interacting with the computer.
You fill in the memos. The activity levels are determined by the tracker. Any minute without keyboard or mouse activity lowers your activity level for that 10 minute block by one.
You'll get used to the tracker really quickly!
That activity tracker feels daunting. Not that I want to slack, but it seems to not really take into account when I need to pause and gather my thoughts in determining the direction I want to take.
When I want to do that for a few minutes, would you recommend I pause the timer, and only have it running when I'm actually typing/clicking? Or do I instead type a memo saying something like "Thinking about how to make this scene play out"? But that seems odd, as I'm still working on the project during those times.
Jeremy Y wrote:
When I want to do that for a few minutes, would you recommend I pause the timer, and only have it running when I'm actually typing/clicking?
What I do is leave the tracker running. After a work session, I go back into the work diary and delete and segments with low activity level, they are usually because I took a break, got a coffee, played with the dog etc... 10 minutes is actually a very long time to be gathering your thoughts... The idea is to keep it fair, not to have only 100% activity. See how it goes, it likely isn't as much of an issue once you get used to it.
UW's time tracker has one big advantage: used as designed, it offers virtually bulletproof protection of payment for time logged. It works great for what I think of as "production" oriented work that entails little, if any, pausing to stare out the window while thinking through the next scene or visualizing the next chart design or noodling how best to lay out an argument. My work almost always involves those kinds of interludes and I find the tracker distracting and intrusive. Also, I typically work across two screens and sometimes more than one device. I just don't have the patience to figure out how to deploy the tracker and use it cmopetently. I've earned in the mid five figures on hourly contracts here, all logged manually, and have only had one instance of a client contesting hours logged. (It turned out to be a 'never should've accepted' contract, we negotiated to split the difference of an hour or two, and parted ways.)
I'm comfortable with the risk because I've been freelancing for 25 years and am confident of (1) my ability to estimate how long something will take so neither the client nor I have unpleasant surprises, and (2) my ability to establish mutual trust with a client and sense when that trust is wobbly. I use my own desktop tracking tool (as a matter of housekeeping and bookkeeping, not just on UW projects), run a timesheet every weekend and log my UW jobs then. I make sure each client understands from the beginning how I manage that aspect of things. And with new clients, I structure the timelines so I can log just a few hours the first 1-2 weeks, to be sure everybody's comfortable.
I didn't realize not using the Desktop App was a viable solution, but good to know. I'll have to think about that.
So you're saying the client trusts you to log your hours fairly, just as you trust them to pay you weekly based on what you tell them? Would you only recommend that with established clients, or you do it all the time with new ones as well?
re: "I didn't realize not using the Desktop App was a viable solution, but good to know."
There are freelancers who ONLY use manually-logged time.
There are freelancers who ONLY use desktop app-logged time.
There are freelancers who use both.
The key is to understand your options and understand the advantages and disadvantages of your various options.
There is nothing at all wrong with using manually logged time as long as the clients you work for are 100% honest and are not going to dispute your manually logged time or forget to keep their payment method up-to-date. With 100% honest clients, manually-logged time is not a risk.
Personally, I do not have sufficient time or prescience to determine which clients are 100% honest, so I use desktop-app-tracked time nearly always. I see no downside to doing so. And I believe it shows respect to my clients to provide them with the auto-tracked work diaries (with screenshots) which has been one of the hallmark offerings of the platform since the beginning.
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