How often have you procrastinated tracking your billable time until the end of the day only to forget the exact time spent with each project? Accurately billing your time is not only important to your employer, but can also be an ethical issue for the client. Keeping good records of your time throughout the day is the best way to help your employer determine which projects are successful financially and which projects might be at risk to lose money.
Constant vigilance is the best approach to record keeping. No doubt most employers require some type of automated timekeeping system, however, using these systems throughout the day may prove too labor intensive to be efficient. One way to begin the process of accurately tracking your time may be to keep a journal to quickly write in tasks as they appear throughout the day. This will be separate from any electronic calendar you may use, as tasks often crop up that are not pre-planned but may require immediate attention. Quickly jot down each task and time spent at natural transitions throughout the day such as at the end of a phone call or the completion of a meeting. Journals are also convenient to take with you when leaving the office for visits to the job site and are useful to jot down mileage as well as travel time. At the end of the day, you can access your automated timekeeping system to enter each project’s billable time. Be consistent, and your new record keeping habit will become second nature.
Be on the lookout for tasks that typically go overlooked such as writing emails, client phone calls, or overrun meetings. Since these items tend to be more unexpected, it is often hard to track the exact time spent, however, being vigilant at the end of each task will more accurately capture how much time is truly spent on these small, but significant tasks. Every employer will appreciate this extra effort made to accurately recount your billable activity.