Time marches on, so Tracy Lawrence says. The question–at least for a CPA–is: Can I bill for it? Not if you don’t know where it went.
Do you ever work all day and think “I need to log my time.” But as you try to recall what you did, you can’t–at least not well anyway. You’ve worked all day (all 10 to 14 hours of it), and now, you can’t remember what you did. So you start the drill. Scanning emails and tax software, you construct a summary. You’re able to create a list of projects, but you’re not quite sure how much time you actually worked on each. So you guess.
Or maybe you’re one of those people who uses yellow-stickies. At the end of the day, yellow stickies are everywhere–on the computer screen, your desktop, your scanner, maybe even in your pants pockets. This is better than nothing, but still not an efficient or accurate method.
So how should we track our time?
1. Capture time as you work.
I can promise you if you don’t, you will spend more time–time you don’t have–summarizing your time at a later hour.
Turn your timer on–most time and billing software has this feature–as you start a project. But what if I get a phone call or someone walks in and interrupts the timed project?
Two suggestions here:
- Close your door as you start a new project and
- Don’t answer your phone for a period of time, say one hour
By not closing the door and answering the phone every time it rings, you are inviting interruptions.
Focusing on one project saves time. Moving back and forth between projects does not.
What if your boss will not allow you to close your door and requires you to answer phone calls as they come in? I can’t help you. One thing I do know: Sustained concentration creates efficiency and a better work product.
2. One last word on capturing time: Key in your time daily.
If you are using your time and billing software as you work, you’ve solved this issue. But if not, at a minimum jot down the projects you work on and then key those in at the end of each day. Keying in time for a whole week or two weeks at one time can be done, but if your daily sheet doesn’t add up (you know you worked 12 hours but your sheet reflects 8 hours), you will not be able to recall–days later–where that time went. I know. I have done this too many times in the past.
- Track your time as you work.
- Key in your time daily.
You already know these things. I’m just writing this post as a reminder; I know I need the same from time to time.
Do you have other tips you can share about tracking time? If yes, please do.