Mostly I worried about tracking 15-minute increments of billable time for every task and assignment. What if I didn’t fulfill client expectations in the budgeted time? What if I was too slow?
Time is Money
It turns out that tracking my time during my six years at a full-service PR agency taught me one of the most valuable workplace lessons: Time is money, just as Benjamin Franklin said.
Today, years later and now an independent consultant, I appreciate that lesson every day. When providing cost estimates to my clients I break down each task according to the time required and quote my price based on those estimates.
Tracking every 15-minute time increment may seem overwhelming or unnecessary, but trust me, it’s a discipline I rely upon every day and a detail my clients appreciate. They pay me to juggle multiple projects, accomplish complicated assignments quickly and accurately, and provide an accounting of where I spend my time.
Even Small Periods of Time are Valuable
Because time is money, even the 10 minutes you spend waiting in a client’s office offers valuable opportunities. I’ve become quite skilled at identifying small tasks that I can squeeze between longer, more complicated assignments.
If you have just a few moments, consider checking one of these things off your list.
1. Create your daily to-do list.
2. Prioritize your tasks.
3. Clean out your purse, desk drawer, or briefcase.
4. Organize emails into folders.
5. Clear the top of your desk.
6. Do 10 reps of an arm or shoulder exercise.
7. Do some deep breathing and a short meditative exercise.
If you have 15 minutes to kill, how about getting these chores done?
1. Think carefully about a work problem for which you need solutions.
2. Take a short walk around the office, or better yet, outside in the fresh air.
3. Call your doctor, chiropractor, or dentist to make that long-postponed appointment.
4. Schedule the gardener to trim trees and shrubbery.
5. Stop by the dry cleaners to pick up or drop off clothing.
6. Phone your mother.
If you have 20-30 minutes, try doing these things:
1. Use this time for creativity – think about new ways to approach your work.
2. Read one of the articles you’ve saved for when you have a few extra minutes.
3. Listen to an audiobook.
4. Eat a healthy snack.
5. Check out online management tools, like Asana or Basecamp.
Whether you have just five minutes between appointments or find yourself with a chunk of unscheduled time, you can be prepared to bang out some chores, errands, and other to-do items. Keep your calendar handy, use your smartphone to check off your progress, and always have a book or article with you to read. You won’t regret living with the adage ‘time is money’ in the forefront of your mind.