It’s a nice place. A peregrine falcon just landed on the rail of the deck, right outside the living room window. Sweet. I love the San Francisco Bay Area!
What does this have to do with diary of your work?
Well, maybe not much… but it inspires me to write!
So let’s get going.
Every single productivity book I have insists that successful people always write down what they did, even if such people don’t write down todo or task lists (they invariably do). This is a tough one for me, I’m much better at writing out task lists then checking off or logging what got done.
However, keeping a log is very effective. Depending on your industry, you may have to keep a log, a sort of “work diary.” For example, the US government requires contractors to keep time sheets documenting how government money is being spent. Take the time to add a few remarks on each time entry, you have a log.
Using work log to increase productivity
When you’re in business, tie each log entry to an appropriate account, which can be used to measure direct and indirect costs associated with each task.
By “account” I mean, how to log the expenses into, say, Quickbooks. Tracking time spent on client work is important. But tracking your own overhead is really important too. Which means developing a chart of accounts that makes sense. Which means everything you do needs to slot into some nice little category on your time sheet. For example, I use ClickTime (you should too), and set up project and tasking along account numbers as best I can.
There’s many activities to consider when logging, because different activities account differently. For example, overhead versus production (whatever that is), versus research and development, versus business development. As an entreprenuer, you want to track these activities as well.
But it may not clear to you exactly how to account for this wide variety of activities.
Categorize your time to measure effect on bottom line
If your time accounting doesn’t appear to fall into neat little categories (and it won’t when you’re first starting out), it’s critically important to write out in detail not only what you did, but why the task was important. It’s this “why” that’s really important, for a couple of reasons:
- After sorting through a month’s worth of log entries, you will see which activities add to your bottom line, and which subtract from your bottom line.
- Your tax situation will become much clearer. The “why” will allow you figure what activities are legally deductible. If you have legitimate research and development costs, you may be surprised at what can be written off.
Here’s the upshot: until your chart of accounts is set up correctly, simply write down what you did, once you get it done. Don’t worry about whether it’s written down “correctly,” just get it written down.
Watch for the next article in this series, where I’ll help you determine whether you’re a “lumper” or a “splitter,” and what that means for your business. In future articles, I’ll add some examples, and a chart of accounts.