time auditing ideas?

Earlier today I read an article that addresses that wonderful question "Where did my day go? What did I do all day?" Their solution: a time audit. Keep a running record of what you did all day.

I'm starting a new job tomorrow that is through a consulting company, so I've got to keep track of how much time I spent doing billable work and how much time doing non-billable work (like attending new employee orientation). At the end of the day, all I really need to do is put my hours in their time tracking website, but I'd feel a whole lot better if I could prove how beneficial I've been to them.

Anyone have any suggestions or ideas for this kind of thing? Right now I'm thinking of just using paper and putting the date and then the time and what I am working on whenever I start something new.

Any suggestions for applications to keep track of this? If I do end up sticking with the paper version, should I keep work stuff and non-work stuff split up?


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Time auditing

You seem to be asking 2 questions – how to keep track of time spent on separate tasks or categories of tasks, and how to organize/present your time records.

Re the first issue: I charge by the hour as a freelancer, so I need to keep track of time down to the minute. After years of doing it all on paper, I eventually set up a simple Excel spreadsheet to do the math. As I'm working, I record my start and stop times in a (paper) notebook I use for the purpose. Then all I do is enter those times into the spreadsheet, which generates any calculation I want – hours and minutes worked per session, per day, per job, etc. Having the spreadsheet do it has saved me hours of calculating and gives me a way to keep neat, detailed records of my work – which has come in handy in surprising ways.

If something like that is what you're looking for, I'd be happy to email the spreadsheet or post it or do whatever one does to share this kind of file.

Re organizing the info: that should be quite simple once you know what you need. The beauty of spreadsheets is you can have them cough up whatever you want, and all you have to do is enter your start and stop times. The other nice thing is it doesn't matter how often you interrupt one task to perform another; you can still easily keep track of total time per task. The point is once you know how much time you're spending on what, you can arrange and present that info any way you'd like.

Am I on the right track with what you're looking for?

I use David Seah's Emergent

I use David Seah's Emergent Task Timer for this. I don't use a timer, because I am too easily sidetracked by it. Instead, during the day, whenever I change tasks, I make note on the ETT of the tasks and times. At the end of the day I know how much time I've spent on which billable jobs, and how much time I've spent on the phone or messing with email.

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Billable Time Dayplanner

The Two-Page Per Day (2PPD) layout was the original day planner and was created by a lawyer to help keep track of his billable time. Check out the templates tab here at DIY if a 2PPD daily dayplanner works for you.

If you prefer a Week at a glance, there are some options there as well.

Another option might be to have a separate section in your dayplanner that is used only for work projects and tracking billable time.

On the work vs non-work question: some court cases have determined that a day-planner used for work purposes is the property of the employer and is an official record. I know time-management gurus chant "one planner" for efficiency reasons, but I'd think twice about that if there's any chance your dayplanner could be subpoenaed in a court case, or if you work for a government agency.