Tracking Resources: Time

I am getting organized. I decided to start tracking my time in 2017. If time is my most valuable resource it is surely important to understand where it is going. It will also be incredibly helpful for determining the value of what I am doing.

In a year of tracking time there have been a few things that gave me pause.

First: There are plenty of hours in a day.

I am only allowing myself to track productive hours and I am being honest about the actual time spent. It is very difficult to exceed 7 hours of meaningful work in a day yet. (This is billable or truly productive hours) I may be too strict with my definition or I may be unrealistic in time spent but I think there is more I could be doing on a daily basis. I need to keep working on completing my three most important tasks everyday. (This will be a future post about priorities.)

Second: Productivity is not always billable, should it be?

In 2017 I had limited hours that are truly billable. I have had even sparser hours that I will recover what I think my billable rate should be. So what is the deal with those hours? I still consider them productive as they are leading to a meaningful payoff in the future.

This is particularly true when it comes to sales. My work in 2016 at a tech startup doing business development further heighten my understand of how relationship is what drives sales. If people do not trust you, what you say is possible is irrelevant. The personal relationship is often what determines trust. There are certainly ways to improve the pace of building trust and I need to focus on that in 2018. I need to be attentive to tracking my “time to close” along with my “closing ratio”, knowing both will help my sales cycle.

The other area I understand as productive but not necessarily paying is infrastructure building or rather working on the operations side of business. I am presently not paid to manage my finances, nor am I paid to develop a time tracking system. However, my work on those operational aspects will pay in the future. I assume efficiency will result which enables me to invest more time in billable hours. I also assume that analysis of these hours relative to my billable hours will determine when it is appropriate to hire staff and what amount of payment they should receive for their work.

Third: Tracking time allows for transparency with clients

Having a record of my time will assist in defining value for clients. As someone who has not tracked time in the past I can attest to how oblivious I am to how long things take.  This is particularly true early on in my own career. I thought a city wide mural project with my skill set and access to resources would take a year, it took five! Unfortunately, I only paid myself for part time work for a year. Yikes! Needless to say folks who do not track their time do not know the real value of their time, nor the value of others.

Fourth: Tracking time allows for better definition of expectations.

Heighten awareness of any data about past events allows for better hypothesies about future events. Knowing how long things take me will enable me to more accurately define my own value in the market place. If I am slower to do something is there more value delivered elsewhere? If I am more efficient does my price reflect that?

Resource tracking is vital to successful business. And although an unseen resource, time is the most valuable resource to a service business. Just as I account for money, it is time to start understanding my time.

A side note on “hustling”

I cringe when someone refers to spending their time “hustling”. For a while I had an aversion to people who describe themselves as overly busy. They are one in the same thing. Hustling and busy are the result of a lack of plan and awareness of what is truly productive. I find when I am “busy” I am working on many things because I do not know what I  want. I have not decided what my goals are and without a destination I am trying to get everywhere, which is physically, emotionally, and relationally not possible. It is not human to be able to do it all, it is just arrogance to even try!