To Track Time or Not?
Virtual Assistants need to have an effective and accurate time tracking system in place. It’s easy, but it can get out of control if you let it.
‘Losing time’ can not only set your schedule behind, lead to disorganization and late night catch-up, but it can also impact your revenue if you forget to bill for work done.
Here are a few answers to those questions you have about time tracking:
Why should I track my time?
First of all, because you need to know how you are spending your day. How much of your time is being spent on billable work? Non billable work? Wasted time? Things you dislike doing?
If you write it all down, it will be easier to assess where you can make adjustments to make your business more profitable .. and more fun too!
Also, as you start to get busier, the day can disappear right before your eyes. You want to be sure you are not losing out on billable time simply because you didn’t write it down.
When should I track my time?
Every day, every minute.
There are resources (see a few below) that can help you do this by using stopwatch to stop and start a timeclock, or you can do it the old fashioned way by writing it down.
I use a spiral notebook and record every task I do every day (even breaks, lunch, and my own business stuff). By using a spiral notebook, I have a record for every day. I transfer my written notes into my time tracking program for billing.
How should I record tasks?
In whatever way makes the most sense to you … whatever is easiest for you.
If you choose a complicated system or one that confuses you, you will run into trouble more than once.
My system is simple … I write my clients’ initials at the beginning of each line, and I record the task item I took care of for them beside it. I indicate the time I worked during the day. I record one task per line in my book for easy reference, and for easy transition to my time tracking program.
In my time tracking program, I have each client set up with their rate and I also have individual tasks set up for all of the things I do. I enter each client’s name and their task and the length of time I worked on it.
At the end of the month, I run my reports and can provide the detail if the client wants it.
I charge my clients on retainer (or by project rate) – I don’t need to track my time, do I?
Of course you do! What if your client goes over your budgeted time… or is way under? Even if you are working with someone on a project rate, it’s important to keep track of the hours you are putting in.
When you decide to revisit your rate package (which you should do often!) you will have an exact measure of how long projects are taking you to do.
If you are working with someone on retainer, it’s good to be able to keep a detailed list of what you worked on for them at the end of their retainer term.
Recording your time is helpful in both of these situations.
Any of these questions are easily answered just by developing a great system to keep track of how you are spending your time.
There are all kinds of resources out there (some free, some paid) that can help you manage this part of your business.
Myhours.com has a free level … it’s what I have used for years. Paymo.biz and Toggl.com are very reasonable and popular with VAs.
Freshbooks.com is a paid solution but also allows you to invoice your clients and track expenses. I use it in my business!
There are many other services and systems that you can use to track your time (just Google ‘time tracking software’ and you’ll see!). No matter which system you decide to go with, be sure that it works for you, and above all … use it! Your business, your client and your bank account will thank you!
If you need help to get your procedures in place, ask your colleagues what works best for them, or consider getting some help with yours.
And of course check out Your VA Mentor’s free Time Tracking training session here!