In this gig economy and era of remote working, you may find yourself in a contracted position or maybe a first-time contracted position. Unlike your typical 9-to-5, you’re getting up and creating your own day. Sure, there are meetings and calls to attend as well as deadlines to meet, but for the most part you’re on your own. We know this can be an adjustment, as we are experiencing it ourselves.
We may not know it all, but here are our trusted tips to working on contract:
Create a Schedule
It can be easy to work at all hours of the day due to the flexibility contracting provides you. We recommend creating a schedule that keeps you closest to traditional work hours, if possible. Think about what times of day you are naturally most awake and productive and prioritize those as working hours, taking breaks when you need to.
Splitting up your hours evenly throughout the day also helps. For example, if you’re contracted 10 hours try working 2-3 hours a day versus an 8-10 hour day in one go. Find out which hours you are most productive and take breaks when you need to.
Check out our work from home toolkit for additional tips for working from home.
Keep Good Records
Income, expenses, deductions and estimated taxes are all things you should be aware of and stay on top of throughout the year. Keeping track of your business expenses with the classic paper receipt is fine, but it can be cluttered and disorganized. Our CEO, Justin Schnor, recommends using Evernote to virtually scan and keep your receipts in one location.
Apps such as Freshbooks, Expensify and Abukai are useful as well for tracking business expenses. Most have free trials, but have a range of fees after the trial period.
Pay Estimated Taxes
When you’re self-employed, there’s no employer withholding taxes for your paycheck. Best tip? Take out a chunk from each paycheck and put it aside for good ole’ Uncle Sam. I set aside around 20 percent of each paycheck for my taxes, but this is going to vary per state. Make sure you talk with an accountant to determine a method and amount that’s going to work best for you!
Outside of a pandemic, of course…utilize your opportunity to travel. Many of us have used the flexibility to work while on the road. Using this opportunity for business can allow you to write off your trip as a business expense. If it’s a combination of business and personal travel, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping track of those separate expenses. Stopping by your buddy Jim’s house to grab a quick bite at Chili’s when you’re in town doesn’t quite fly as a business expense, we’re sorry to break it to you.
Lean on Fellow Independent Contractors
There are plenty of us out there with helpful tips and tricks to share. Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential co-workers who’ve been in your shoes or others in the same industry as you. We’ve all leaned on one another at one time or another for advice.
If you or your company are looking for a refresh or to expand your online presence, let’s connect!