Top tips on how to stay on top of your bookkeeping and avoid procrastination

As a freelancer, keeping on top of your bookkeeping can be an overwhelming task, especially when you’re trying to balance it with all the other demands of running a business. I have worked with so many artists and creative types over the span of my career so far, and one of the crucial parts of working with them is helping them manage their anxiety about keeping their books as freelancers. 

If you are a freelancer, you must know how crucial it is to stay on top of your bookkeeping, not only for tax purposes but also for your financial health and peace of mind. In this article, I’ll go over my most-used pep talks that I share with my clients to motivate them to not only keep on top of their bookkeeping, but also do it with a sense of self-pride.

What we’ll cover:

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.

What does bookkeeping mean for a freelancer?

Bookkeeping refers to the process of recording all financial transactions in a systematic manner. As a freelancer, bookkeeping involves tracking your income, expenses, invoices, and receipts. It’s essential to maintain accurate records to understand your financial position, prepare tax returns, and make informed business decisions.

You might find this related article helpful: I wrote about the bookkeeping basics all freelancers and small businesses should know about:

stay on top of bookkeeping

1) Stay on top of your bookkeeping a little at a time

One of the best ways to stay on top of your bookkeeping is to do it a little at a time. Instead of letting receipts pile up, try to record your transactions as they occur. If you can’t do this every day, strive to do so at least every week or two. This approach not only saves time but also helps to prevent errors and oversights. Set aside a few minutes every so often to update your records, and you’ll find that it becomes a more manageable task.

2) Block time in your diary from the beginning

Another helpful tip is to block time in your diary specifically for bookkeeping. Treat this time as you would any other important appointment and stick to it. You can even set reminders or alarms to ensure that you don’t forget. Consistency is key, and by setting aside time regularly, you’ll stay on top of your bookkeeping and avoid the stress of trying to catch up.

The simple act of having that time in your calendar will be a useful reminder, and it will make it that much harder to ignore and procrastinate.

This is one of my favourite videos on time-blocking and task batching. Give it a whirl, girl!

3) Find an accountability buddy (or two)

Accountability is essential when it comes to bookkeeping, especially if you are not in the habit of doing it regularly, and you end up taking care of it a few days before the deadline in what I call the January Tax Panic. Choose a friend or fellow freelancer who you trust and who can help you stay on track. Promise each other that you will share your progress with one another and hold each other accountable for completing your bookkeeping tasks. This approach can be motivating and relieving in a “trouble shared troubled halved” kind of way.

4) Organise regular ‘tax parties’

Organising regular ‘tax parties’ with fellow freelancers can be an effective way to stay on top of your bookkeeping. Reach out to a few fellow sole traders and organise an afternoon with everyone’s favourite snacks and drinks, where you all sit down for an hour and catch up on your bookkeeping. These gatherings can be informal and fun, but they should also be focused on getting your tax affairs in order (and having a moan about them with someone in your same boat definitely helps). 

You can exchange tips, share resources, and work together to complete your bookkeeping and tax returns. These events can be a great way to break up the monotony of bookkeeping and make it a more enjoyable task. And once the task is done, everyone gets to watch a movie and go dancing.

Transform the bookkeeping into something that you get to do, not something that you begrudgingly comply to.

5) Change your perspective: staying on top of your bookkeeping is like flossing

Changing your perspective on bookkeeping can make a big difference. Most of the time, it’s seen as the Impossible Task no one wants to deliver, and the more power you give it, the more it will have power over you. 

Instead of viewing it as an annoying chore, try to think of it as an essential part of your business routine. Like flossing, it’s not the most exciting task, but it’s necessary for your long-term health and wellbeing. By reframing your mindset, you may find that bookkeeping becomes a more manageable and even enjoyable task. And just like flossing, you’ll feel clean and proper after it’s taken care of.

6) It is just labour: take the emotions out

Bookkeeping can be emotional for some freelancers. After all, we are talking about money: earning it, spending it, and having it fluctuate from month to month. However, it’s important to remember that bookkeeping is just labour. It’s not a reflection of your worth as a person. Try to take the emotions out of bookkeeping and treat it like any other task that needs to be completed.

Have something that will distract the emotional and intellectual part of your brain: have your favourite music on in the background, or your comfort-TV show, and don’t take what you’re doing too seriously. It’s just data entry, and nothing else: you are just entering information in a spreadsheet, that’s it.

keeping on top of bookkeeping

7) Long-term joy over short-term misery

Staying on top of your bookkeeping may not be the most enjoyable task, but it can lead to long-term joy and self-confidence. By maintaining accurate records, you can make informed business decisions, save time and money, and avoid the stress of scrambling to get your tax affairs in order. Remind yourself that the short-term annoying task of bookkeeping is worth it for the long-term benefits.

8) Accountability is key: you have the power to get it sorted

As a freelancer, you are the only one responsible for your bookkeeping. It can be tempting to put it off, but remember that you have the power to get it sorted. Of all the things that may or may not happen in your life, you need to identify which ones you do have control over and can do something about. Bookkeeping is one of these: by staying accountable to yourself, you can make it a priority and ensure that it doesn’t fall by the wayside. I absolutely promise that it may be hard only at the beginning, and the more you exercise the muscle of self-organising and sticking to your plans, the easier it will be to get things done, and feel those warm tingling feelings of pride and confidence that come with doing your part.

Set goals for yourself and celebrate when you achieve them. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and be motivated to keep going.

9) Use an income and expenditure tracker (mine perhaps?)

Having a proper system that can streamline your bookkeeping efforts will absolutely help in making this task a more manageable one. I have written a lot about the basics of bookkeeping, and how to prepare for your Self Assessment.

I have also created a spreadsheet that will allow you to track your income and expenditure very easily.

This is an exceptionally easy to use worksheet for freelancers/Self-employed people who want to record their freelance income and allowable expenditure transactions and track them by category. Full instructions are included, and this smart spreadsheet picks up spend and income by category and by month, delivering monthly and yearly profit/loss.

It also apportions household costs for you, based on the number of days per year that you work from home.

It’s on sale for only £1.49 and it is a very clever tool: do grab it and see for yourself!

freelancer income and expenditure tracker


Keeping on top of your bookkeeping may seem overwhelming, but it’s an essential part of running a successful freelance business, and caring for your mental health. By staying on top of your finances, you can make informed decisions, save time and money, and avoid the stress of scrambling to get your tax affairs in order. Remember to approach bookkeeping with a positive mindset, block out time in your diary, and hold yourself accountable.

With these tips in mind, you can take control of your bookkeeping and ensure that your financial health is on track. So, take a deep breath and make this year a year where you stay on top of your bookkeeping!

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This post was all about keeping on top of bookkeeping as a freelancer

About the author : Susie Italiano

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