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Productivity, Time Tracking

How the Most Efficient Consultants Track Their Time

May 14, 2020 By Martijn van der Hoeden

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 As a consultant, you’re paid one of two ways:

  • By project
  • By the hour

Depending on a few variables like the scope of work involved and your industry, getting paid on a project basis can be more lucrative than billing a client hourly and vice versa.

But both avenues require some sort of effective time tracking to accurately reflect the amount of work that has been put into the project. 

If you’re billing by the hour, obviously time tracking is critical to making sure you get adequately paid for your time.

"If you’re billing on a project basis, solid time tracking is even MORE important, since you should know definitively how much time has been spent and not go off rails, spending more time (money) than you should."

When this happens — and a lot of us have been there — it’s not pretty. You can get disgruntled very quickly when you realize you’re not even making your hourly rate on a project. It then becomes a race to the finish line and often, results in delivering less-than-amazing work.

It’s the worst.

However, it’s really not hard to put an intelligent time tracking system in place for either yourself or your organization that can make sure you don’t waste your time and get compensated for the true scope of the work.

People who are the best at what they do get compensated for their precious time, and you better believe they’ve got their time tracking down to a science. From lawyers to developers, marketing agencies and beyond, doing time tracking the right way (hint- automate as much as you can!) ultimately translates into more dollars in your pocket.

The good news is that there are easy-to-use tools out there that you can leverage as a consultant to help you efficiently track your time without the headaches. Check out our tips to get started.

6 time tracking tips for consultants

1) Find a time tracking tool. 

The key here is to look for efficiency and visibility. Time tracking software for consultants should make it easy and painless to log your time and easy to check in on team members and client projects from a high level. Platforms like Harvest and Toggl are a great place to start, but they’re missing a certain level of functionality that teams and collaborators need. PSOhub is perfect if you want to automate the time tracking process and get the visibility required to see what’s really happening on your projects in real time.

Learn more about PSOhub Time Tracking

2) Use your calendar! 

Whether you prefer Google, Outlook, etc., use your calendar to your advantage to set yourself up for efficiency. You can block off time for more than just meetings, and be sure to include hours spent on certain client projects and internal meetings with your team. Always remember to include buffer time to switch between clients or tasks! 

Bonus: If your time tracking tool integrates with your calendar (like this one from PSOhub), you can save even MORE time and automate the process. It’s a huge win for productivity!. 

3) Set boundaries. 

Blocking off chunks of time on your calendar can also help you stay on task and switch gears when necessary. This will help you prioritize and develop more efficient routines, such as certain hour blocks for email responses versus periodically checking your inbox all day. At the end of the day, staying focused is all about boundaries. And don’t forget, if you’re struggling with time tracking, you’ll want to eliminate multitasking as much as you can. Multitasking is in fact the enemy of productivity, so using your calendar to keep you focused on the task at hand can help you work smarter, not harder.

4) Analyze your time. 

Don’t just track your time, but look into how you are utilizing your hours for ways you can improve. You may find that you are more productive during the morning or evening or that certain tasks are taking longer than you suspected. Look into how you are spending your days, and you may be surprised by what you find.

5) Eventually, set time limits. 

When you begin to truly understand the most efficient way to complete tasks, you can set limits and begin tracking if you’re reaching operational efficiency goals. This is a great method for both teams and individual consultants to maximize their efficiency and hopefully, make more by working less.

6) Consider different time management techniques.

There’s a handful of geniuses out there who claim to have nailed the secrets to time management and offer different ways to manage your time. One of the most popular is undoubtedly the Pomodoro Technique, in which you chunk your time into 20-minute blocks followed by short and eventually, longer breaks. Think HIIT workout but for your brain. There are also a few other methods out there that people swear by, so have fun experimenting with time management techniques and discovering what works best for you.

“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” - Miles Davis

If you are a consultant, this quote should ring even more true than it does to the average human. Follow our tips and get an awesome time tracking system down. Analyze your time, and think of ways you can automate certain tasks and make the most out of your day. If you’re working in a team environment, getting great time tracking software for consultants is vital, but individuals can benefit just as much from getting the latest self-driving tools.

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