Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good habits: Track Time Daily

I've been procrastinating about getting a checklist of good habits out to you, so I thought I'd bite off a chunk and start with just one!  Whether you charge by the hour, or by flat fee, or on a contingency basis, track your time daily. I'm convinced it's the first thing you need to do to earn more income. New clients that pick up this habit recoup their first month's coaching fees in about a month, either because they remember more of the work they've done, or because they create better descriptive entries. Better entries mean speedier billing and fewer client inquiries.

I have never encountered anyone who enjoyed it. I don't have THE ONE RIGHT WAY for you to do it, but I do have some ideas for you to try:
  • Block checkpoint appointments on your calendar for time tracking.

  • Crunch times might push time tracking off the day's agenda, but set a standard that you'll never go more than 2 days without tracking time.

  • Two monitors might be the best idea for making time tracking easy, you can keep your time tracking software (even if it's excel or a list) up on one monitor all the time.

  • Speaking of software- use practice management software, I won't argue with you, I do recommend it heartily.

  • If you can't make yourself enter time directly into a program, then try keeping a notebook just for time tracking, by the phone.

  • Use dictation and have a staffer enter your time, still working towards a daily goal.
I think you'll notice yourself focusing more on your goals for work time as a result of tracking your time daily. It's part of a time management discipline- you'll be prioritizing with more information every day.  Track your time daily with a "never go more than 2 days w/o tracking time" rule, and just do it until it's a habit!

(Did you notice the procrastination tip? If you have something you're stuck on, try chunking it down to whatever small size works and tackle it. In my case, a 15 minute blog post for now.)