So we came across an article in Forbes on the way successful people approach their work. The article was about a book by Laura Vanderkam, in which she’d asked a bunch of high-flyers to use time-tracking software so she could analyse their logs.

What she found were seven habits they all had in common when it came to the way they worked. What we found though, was these were all habits you naturally adopt when using our time tracking and project management software, Solo.

So, let’s take a look at the seven traits these business buffs all possess, and how using our wonderful web-app will increase your productivity and mean your working practices are on a par with the big-hitters in the business world.

1 - Mind Your Hours 

The first thing Laura Vanderkam noticed was these guys are all very aware of their hours. They instinctively know how long a job will take or if they’re behind schedule. In fact, Vanderkam mentions a well-known illustrator who can tell exactly how many drawings they're going to get done by using (of all things) Seinfeld reruns playing in the background as a gauge.

But Seinfeld isn’t the only way to keep track of your time now is it? And don’t just use Solo’s timer to time your work - get into the habit of using it to set deadlines for yourself, too. Tell yourself you’re not gonna spend more than an hour on a task if that’s all it should take, and keep an eye on the timer as it ticks away. This way, time-tracking helps you allocate hours efficiently and helps you to achieve your day's goals.

2 - Plan stuff out 

This might seem like a no-brainer but Vanderkam tells us the next thing these super successful people all do at work is plan. Now that seems a little obvious, so we’re gonna go a step further and say you need to not only plan - but plan smart. As luck would have it that’s something our project management software helps you with too.

Using Solo, you’re able to organise, strategise, and maximise your workload with Planner, letting you spot free time and squeeze more out of your day.

3 - Make success possible 

The next thing Laura Vanderkam learned from this lot is to ‘Make Success Possible’. What she means by this is, you’re more likely to achieve your goals if you set small, doable tasks and reach them one step at a time. So break down bigger projects into smaller chunks and chip away at things one at a time.  

Working with our project management tool you’ll start doing this naturally when you begin using tasks and milestones. Breaking projects down into milestones makes jobs less daunting and it makes you feel like your days are super productive as you begin ticking off those task complete boxes, too. Satisfying isn't it?

4 - Know what work is 

Much as we like to kid ourselves, opening emails and attending meetings isn’t really “work”. Now, it’s not such a problem for freelancers, but a lot of people in regular office roles set “weekly" meetings. Vanderkam advises, “Meetings have to earn their place in someone’s life” and actually recommends ditching recurring meetings altogether. She sums up by stating, “Everything you do with an hour should be a conscious decision.” 

"Everything you do with an hour should be a conscious decision" ... Well, that pretty much sums up working with Solo. When you use it, you sit down, start time-tracking and get to work. And if you attach a meeting to a project, it has no effect on the total number of hours you’ve logged against a job (unless you cheat and add the time manually of course)so there's no fooling yourself. Time-wise, it's brutally honest and makes you much more aware of what you’re doing.

5 - Practise your craft 

In her book Laura Vanderkam points out that professional athletes and musicians spend lots of time practising their sport or craft. Most people in regular jobs don’t. However, she also says practice is not enough - you need feedback. She says: “That’s the chunk that’s missing for a lot of people at work ... We don’t get as much feedback as we need.” 

Well, Solo gives you plenty of that. As you get better at your job, you should see it reflected in the many metrics our time-tracking and project management software displays. Whether it be a higher percentage of jobs completed on time, your Client Rating going up, or the Breakdown By Work Type graph telling you you’re spending less time on amends as your work improves, Solo gives you all the feedback you need. Handy isn't it?  

6 - Build your career capital 

Successful people pay into their career capital account regularly, and as a freelancer, you should be doing the same. What’s career capital? Well, Laura Vanderkam describes it as “the sum total of your experience, your knowledge, your skills, your relationships ...’’ basically everything that makes you good at your job and helps you find work.

She goes on to say that one way to build your career capital is to build a network of loyal contacts. She suggests doing this by introducing colleagues to others who might be beneficial to them, being helpful, and simply staying in touch. So by keeping your contact list in order and organising your clients by sector, Solo let's build your career capital with ease.

7 - Pursue pleasure 

The final commonality Vanderkam found among the successful, is they all enjoy their work. She recommends tweaking your day so you spend more time on the tasks you love and less on those you don’t. The other thing she found is joy at work often comes from a sense of progress.

Well, these are all things online project management software and time tracking tool will help you achieve. What’s more, Solo will help you maximise your productivity - so you can earn more and free up time to pursue your other favourite interests outside of work.

So there you have it. Seven secrets the successful all share and seven things Solo naturally introduces to your way of working.

After looking at the way they work, it seems there might have been an eighth secret which these guys all had in common (but didn’t share) ... they must all be time-tracking with Solo and using our online project management software.

This blog post is brought to you by the creators of Solo; your freelance wingman. If you'd like to contribute to the blog, contact us on hello[at]wearethrive.com.