I consistently tell clients that being organized at work will make them more money. In no place is there a higher payoff on good organizational systems than with tracking billable hours and A/R (accounts receivable). Lack of structure in these areas directly results in less money coming in, and more effort going out.
In a previous post, we discussed the importance of organized systems to track your business expenses and mileage to make sure that you get appropriately reimbursed by the IRS or your company for your financial and/or automotive contributions to your company. In this post, we will discuss time tracking and collecting money from clients and even your employer.
Below are some tips to ensure that you get what’s coming to you – in a good, financial, way, that is.
Track Your Time
- If your time is billable, track it in real time. If you have to go back and review your day, week, or (yikes!) month to track your time, you will inevitably miss those short but meaningful minutes spent in between the longer meetings that are noted on your calendar. Avoid the need for a forensic investigation into how you spent your time and you’ll be much more accurate in your client billing.
- Maximize the time-tracking features that your company or firm’s software offers you. Quickbooks has a built-in stopwatch for time tracking. Some of my attorney clients have the ability to assign a matter number to a phone call using their phone’s keypad. Maximize what is already available to you, or…
- Come up with your own method of tracking time. Make a Word or Excel template that you can print out and note the time, activity, and client. Keep it handy and make sure it is portable (either hard copy or tablet-enabled). Alternatively, use your calendar to track your time – just make sure you have enough space to record all time spent. To do this effectively in Outlook, you may need to change your time scale.
- Schedule time on your calendar to enter tracked time into your billing system. This is a necessary evil that precedes the wonderful result of getting paid.
- Estimate accurately on the front-end of a contract. Use templates and spreadsheets to make sure you don’t forget the time it takes before, during, and after a job. It is better to overestimate slightly than underestimate significantly.
Collect the Money That Others Owe You
- Don’t “invoice and forget.” If you are a business owner, track accounts receivable, follow-up appropriately with non-payers, and send unpaid invoices to collections agencies on the rare occasion that it is warranted.
- Complete your expense reports if you work for a company that reimburses you for personal expenses. Schedule an appointment on your calendar to “compile expense report” on the day you return from a business trip.
- Submit your medical receipts for reimbursement from your High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) or Section 125 Reimbursement Plan (if applicable) on a monthly or, at least, quarterly basis.
- Ensure prompt payment by spelling out everything when submitting a proposal, contract, or work agreement. Specify payment terms, over/under charges, late fees, etc.
After all, it’s your money, right?
Is time tracking one of your shortfalls? Contact me today. I have helped many clients improve their processes in this area.
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at email@example.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.