If you’re not billing your hours, then why are you even working? Until you know how many hours a week you work, you’ll never know how much you’re actually getting paid. It could be five dollars an hour or five hundred. To learn how much your time is worth, you absolutely need to track your time. Fortunately for you, it doesn’t have to be painful. Here are five downright easy ways you can keep track of your billable hours.
People keep track of their time for all kinds of reasons. Whether you’re looking to be more productive or save your company some money will guide which method of time tracking you choose. If you decide on a goal in advance of picking a system, you’ll be able to use it much more thoughtfully and effectively. For example, if you’re trying to save money, then you won’t need to track every single minute of every single day like a person interested in productivity would need to do.Marcus Neto of BlueFish Design Studio says“If you’re not tracking billable hours you’re losing money.”
Even today with all our smart phones and tablet computers, a pen and paper can be the most efficient system. A small notebook and pen are always with you and don’t run out of batteries. When combined with a fairly accurate timepiece, you’ve got a system that will always work. Simply write down what you’re doing throughout the day and note whether it’s billable or non-billable. If you’re so inclined, you can later enter all the data into a spreadsheet for further perusal.
Speaking of spreadsheets, these make an excellent way to track time. Just like a notebook, you’ll type in your starting and stopping times, along with whatever project you were working on. Working from a spreadsheet lets you perform calculations and figure out total billable hours right then and there. You can even set up different sheets for different clients. When a client needs an invoice, you’ll have all the information you need right there at your fingertips.
If you’ve touched a computer in the last five years, you can figure out how to use one of the dozens of time tracking apps you can get for your computer. The simplest ones literally have two buttons: Start and stop. Press one when you start working, press the other when you’re done. Other apps, such as Hubstaff, have fancy features that calculate your hourly pay for you or let you split your time into different projects. You probably won’t use all these features, but sometimes they can be nice to have.
(Note from LessAccounting: Pst, check out our time tracking application. It’s a time tracking app brought to you by the guys at LessEverything with those simple “Start” and “Stop” buttons that Carly mentions. You even get a free account with every paid LessAccounting account, and the 2 integrate seamlessly so you can create invoices from your timesheets!)
You could spend forever waffling over which system to choose. You could also just pick one and be done with it. Try your newly-chosen system out for a few weeks and see how you like it. If you can’t stand it, or you always forget to press the little buttons, or you need a mobile component, then ditch it and move on to a new one.
Tracking your client or customer billed hours can be useful in so many different ways. Not only can it help your company save money, it’ll also help you be more productive. There’s nothing like monitoring time to show you how much of it you’ve been wasting.