How Clockify helps Zulie Rane achieve work-life balance
Last updated on: August 25, 2023
Ever felt guilty for not opening a work-related email, even though you received it way past your regular working hours? It’s highly likely that you have since the hustle culture never stops, right?
Well, not exactly, or at least not for everyone.
Let us introduce you to Zulie Rane — a successful content creator who managed to avoid falling into the hustle mindset trap (and all its toxic consequences).
Zulie loves what she does but fully understands that life is so much more than just work. That’s also one of the reasons she uses Clockify — to minimize the amount of time she spends working and allocate those slots to her personal life, e.g., reading, baking, or being a cat mom.
We love what Zulie does, too, especially her approach to a work-life balance — so we reached out for an interview.
She was more than happy to let us pick her brain, and here’s what we discussed (among other things):
- Zulie’s corporate origins, transition to content creation and freelancing,
- Time management, setting priorities, minimizing working hours, and
- Zulie’s use of our time tracker Clockify and a few selected features.
Let’s dig in!
Table of Contents
Meet Zulie Rane (and her version of the American dream)
The title we’ve mentioned in the introduction — content creator — doesn’t seem to begin to cover all that Zulie Rane is, so let us elaborate on it first.
Zulie is a content creator, blogger, and vlogger from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Apart from creating original content, she provides other services to individual clients and businesses, such as:
- SEO content,
- Sponsorships, and
Doing what she loves and being quite passionate about it, Zulie tries to help other writers achieve their goals as well — to make a living by writing about topics they love and further improve in doing so.
Cue the Blog section on her website — she posts every week, making the page an all-things-content-creation-and-trends gold mine. Her content includes:
- Platform reviews,
- In-depth guides,
- Tips and tricks for writers,
- The latest trends, and more.
But it wasn’t that long ago when Zulie was stuck in a typical corporate 9-to-5 job, working as an account manager in tech support. She started freelancing in September 2018 as a side gig, only to later discover that freelancing had everything she needed to achieve her own version of the American dream.
Recently, Zulie was featured in a Business Insider article as a good practice example of a successful freelancer — she earned a whopping $10,000 in a single month while working only 16ish hours per week.
Let’s see how it all started, what made Zulie commit to being her own boss, and why she is so adamant about minimizing her working hours.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
If you’re a freelancer too, here are some resources you might want to bookmark:
How Zulie started freelancing (the story of a blessing in disguise)
Zulie started working on her blog while she was still a corporate employee, and soon enough, client offers began falling into her lap. As you can imagine, a full-time job and multiple gigs on the side can result either in:
- Career burnout, or
- Unsatisfactory performance and quality of work.
Then, Zulie realized she utterly enjoyed creating content. In retrospect, she admits she’d also been neglecting her tech job, so letting her go didn’t come as a surprise.
It was a gut feeling she couldn’t ignore, which later helped her take a leap of faith in herself. As luck would have it, the release of that position was a major blessing in disguise, a turning point in her career.
Zulie realized she loved being her own boss, and that freelancing suits her:
“Having to answer to somebody else, having not to do exactly what I want to do or make decisions that are best for me, but for some other entity, that did not appeal to me at all.”
So Zulie’s explanation for the recent skyrocketing rates of freelance work lies in its obvious benefits, such as:
- More freedom and a flex time schedule, and
- The availability of apps and tools that enable remote collaboration.
“There are tools like Clockify, and blog posts like Medium where you need so little to start. The entry barrier is so low to try things, find your niche, get ahold of clients, and contact new clients. It’s more possible than ever before for complete beginners to get set up faster. That is absolutely fascinating.”
In Zulie’s opinion, even the fact that it took her a while to figure out the appropriate workload came with some advantages. For example, she learned to use her natural rhythm to her advantage.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
Thinking about becoming a freelancer but still unsure? Check out what the numbers say:
Zulie on what matters most in time management
Over time, Zulie realized that the 40-hour workweek was not a standard she’ll ever conform to. For her, adequate time management meant working the least amount of time possible:
“I think my defining ethos is to try to do only work that I really enjoy and to try to do it in as little time as possible because I don’t love work. I mean, I enjoy what I do, but I like baking and reading, and hanging out with my cats more. So my whole thing is trying to make that as much of my life as possible.”
A common goal that almost every freelancer out there strives toward is the ability to control how they allocate their time — and that was exactly what Zulie achieved:
“I get to design what my day, what my week, what my year, what it all looks like. If I want to do less work, I can find a way to make that happen. Sometimes that means I have to take a cut in income, but sometimes it means that I need to figure out other ways of making money that don’t require so much time.”
Setting up her own rules just made sense to Zulie.
Her intrinsic motivation grew at a steady pace, showing a clear sign that she’d left her comfort zone. It was time for a new chapter of her story, with no one but herself in the author role.
Pursuing personal growth is the reason we all dare to step out of our comfort zone, and Zulie’s progress really made her happy. So, when monitoring and improving different aspects of her progress was next on Zulie’s agenda, she started tracking time.
She opted for Clockify and immediately gave it a go, after remembering it helped an ex-colleague do the same.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
If the time somehow keeps slipping away from you, no matter how hard you try to make precise estimates, this article will help you recalibrate:
Mastering time management by (re-)prioritizing
Before going into detail about Zulie’s time-tracking habits, we were curious to find out whether Zulie was a fan of any specific time management technique that she’d perhaps like to recommend.
“I’ve ended up with this kind of mishmash where it’s [time management] more based on priorities. So, earlier in the week, as that’s when I noticed I’m the most productive, I focus on getting the most bang for my buck, in terms of spending time on getting stuff done.”
Knowing that life is hectic and being often on the go, Zulie makes sure to regularly adjust her priorities to suit her natural rhythm best — and tracking her time is half the work.
She achieves her goal by keeping an eye on her Calendar view and scheduling tasks when she feels it’s most appropriate:
“For me, what works is figuring out the order of priorities — are these the things that I wanna get done this week? Then I just try to slot them into the times that make the most sense for me based on my energy levels.”
It’s no wonder that Zulie’s business keeps thriving, as following your body’s rhythm and scheduling accordingly can make all the difference, especially in regard to your motivation levels.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
Still not figured out what your biological prime time is and how your motivation, energy, and focus levels fluctuate? You’ll want to check out this guide:
How Clockify keeps Zulie honest with herself
Okay, now cue an inconvenient truth — the planning fallacy is real, and it happens to the best of us. Put simply, it’s a phenomenon to blame for setting unrealistic expectations and deadlines, a tendency to underestimate the time we need to complete a task.
As we’ve already mentioned, Zulie prefers being brutally honest with herself, and that’s exactly what Clockify helps her with.
“It was after I tracked my time that I got a better sense of my sort of idealized priorities vs. how I was actually prioritizing things. And after I started tracking my time, I was able to meld those a little better together.”
Thanks to the cognitive bias we’ve mentioned above, making precise estimates seems to be a never-ending challenge. However, what Zulie soon enough realized was that the only way to improve is to:
- Monitor the planned vs. actual time,
- Analyze the data and look for patterns, and
- Rinse and repeat.
It’s really all about the Practice ‘till perfection mindset and attitude.
Now let’s see what Zulie first thought about our tool, how she uses it now to improve the accuracy of her estimates, and how else Clockify makes her life easier.
Zulie’s overall rating of Clockify: “It’s perfect in every way”
Zulie actually used the exact words from the section title to describe Clockify. We do appreciate it, and — thank you, Zulie, it’s people like yourself that we’re all doing it for!
But why exactly did Zulie describe Clockify as a perfect tool? Well, venturing into uncharted career territory comes with a fair share of uncertainties, so the first thing to remember is that every penny counts. Naturally, Zulie was thrilled to find out Clockify was free. Here’s how she sums up her first impressions in a sentence:
“I didn’t have a huge amount of money to spend on non-essentials at the time, so it was great to be able to try something out that worked so intuitively and so well.”
Okay, so now we just had to ask what made her stick with our tool, specifically in terms of features and options she uses and finds beneficial.
Clockify features Zulie enjoys the most
The longer Zulie tracked her time, the more value she kept finding in the data. The options were many, so she started exploring.
Everything went smoothly just by intuition and that’s precisely why she couldn’t help but praise the simplicity of the design, and the overall user experience with our tool.
So, when we inquired about what made her stick with Clockify, she followed up on the previous point, adding how an uncluttered interface made exploring its capabilities straightforward to the point there was no need for a tutorial video.
“I thought, I wanna be able to track my time — here’s how you do it. Just by clicking around, it was so easy to figure everything out. And then I thought, okay, well, what if I wanted to divvy it up by income streams? Super easy to figure out how to do that. Okay, I wanna look at a report over the last 3 months, 2 clicks, and I’m done. It was so easy to use. I’ve never felt like it was lacking in a feature that I needed.”
After a while, Zulie started leveraging the power of various features available, and the 3 below are the ones she chose to single out as the most beneficial.
Feature #1: Timer
Admitting she is, above all, a fan of Clockify’s basic features, Zulie adores the Timer. We’ve already covered and explained the main reasons for this, so let’s just say it helps keep her feet on the ground.
The insights she gets from timing her tasks are what makes it possible for her to analyze her habits and further work on improving them.
Let’s move on to the second feature that made Zulie’s life easier.
Feature #2: Projects and clients
Having multiple ongoing projects at all times, Clockify enables Zulie to stay organized and have a clear breakdown of all her current activities and tasks:
“I have it broken down by those 3 clients that I mentioned earlier — myself, my clients, and platforms within each of those, and I’ve got the type of work that I do for them. So, for example, if under my platforms I’ve got YouTube as a project, and then within that, for the description, I’ll say I was filming a YouTube video, editing a YouTube video, etc. So, I love to see the breakdown in this kind of triangle that I really like. Later I can look back at the month and I can see, okay, I’m, I’ve been spending about 15 hours a month on average on my own stuff.”
Feature #3: Expenses and invoicing
Another important thing for freelancers is adequately managing their finances, and Zulie seems to have mastered tracking and improving her budget with Clockify, as there are metrics she can use to confirm that.
“So that’s how I kind of use Clockify — I break it down by task, then who the task is owned by, and then where that task falls into my income stream bracket. Then I compare that with my money to make sure that I’m doing things that make sense for me financially and career fulfillment wise.”
Who would Zulie recommend Clockify to and why?
Above all, Zulie can’t emphasize it enough — every freelancer out there should hop on this productivity train and start using Clockify immediately.
Why? In her opinion, those valuable insights help freelancers be realistic about their billable vs. non-billable time — hence their hourly rates as well:
“Tracking your time with a tool at Clockify makes it so much easier to know exactly what your time is worth, where your time is going, and helps you be more realistic about designing a workweek that you want to build that works for you.”
She adds that it’s simply human nature to be dishonest with ourselves occasionally, so being your only supervisor might not always be an ideal scenario. That’s another reason she recommends Clockify to everyone who plays the role of their own boss:
“As a freelancer, your most valuable currency is your time. It’s the life that you get to build, it’s the ability to design a workweek that works for you, not for your boss, not for your company, but for you specifically, for your life or your family, for your lifestyle. And I think it’s so easy to be, not intentionally, dishonest about where your time goes during the day.”
Wrapping it up: It’s about managing to do ALL the things you love
Well, it’s safe to say many of us can look up to Zulie’s boldness and determination on her journey. It’s all about adequately managing our limited amount of time, i.e., getting the most out of it.
We hope Zulie’s story has inspired you too, and that we’ve made our point clear — more often than not, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for anything in life.
Luckily, with a growth mindset and a little help from other resources available, the world’s your oyster.
As Zulie, you can, too, leverage the power of tools and dedicate as little (or as much) of your time to individual aspects of your life just as you see fit.
✉️ What are your 2 cents on Zulie’s story? Are you a freelancer with a story to share as well, or perhaps an additional piece of advice about using Clockify to successfully manage time? Let us know by writing at email@example.com, and we will consider featuring it in one of our future articles. Also, if you liked this post and found it useful, share it with someone you think would benefit from it.