If you do the work, you should get paid for it. But when getting paid requires you to remember and record everything you do accurately, some billable hours often never make it to your timesheet. A few lost minutes here and there doesn’t seem like a lot, but when totalled over a month you could be seriously undercutting yourself. Here are the most commonly unreported billable hours to be aware of:
You got a work call on your way to another commitment. A colleague called you at home in the evening. Your scheduled client call overran by 10 minutes. You switched to using a mobile device for work while on-the-go. A great deal of these scenarios go unbilled, even though they all produce value for clients. Whatever the setting, whatever the time of day, the time you spend on calls for work should be recorded.
People feel uncomfortable billing for time spent on email, because it feels like an intrinsically unproductive task. Many even see it as unbillable internal time, since you are coordinating your work. The same goes for time spent on Slack, Twist or any other form of group communication. But it still counts as billable time. Communication is an essential part of your work – you plan and organize next steps, update stakeholders and clients, and get the direction and resources you need to continue with tasks. Make sure “after meeting emails” in particular are represented on your timesheet.
The time a client obliges you to spend travelling away from your main site of work in order to work for them counts as productive time that would otherwise be engaged on another billable project. Yet few bill for it accurately, if they record it at all. The same goes for billable time spent on-the-go, like walking meetings, answering emails on your phone and other forms of “active work”.
Nobody likes meetings, nobody likes when they overrun (which is unreasonably often). People usually default to using scheduled calendar invites to represent time spent in meetings, when in reality meetings often don’t stick to the allotted timeframe – the meeting room you booked was in-use, clients were late, the fancy projector wouldn’t connect to your laptop, you were interrupted, it overran by 15 minutes. Make sure you bill for what actually happened.
It’s annoying when a bit of work pops up in the evening when you’re at home, but it often can’t be helped. If a colleague in another time zone has a question, you need to reply so the rest of their day isn’t blocked. Perhaps your own personal development overlaps with work tasks and you start investigating how it could help your team. Or your boss calls you to go over work you didn’t get a chance to in the day. Or you simply work in tech and a pesky bug shows up. Just because you were sat on your couch doing it doesn’t mean it wasn’t valid productive work.
All of these issues combined add up to a startling picture of unaccounted billable hours. But using an automatic time tracker completely solves the problem by ensuring anything you work on is recorded for you – wherever you were, whatever time it is, whatever device you were using, and however original plans changed.
Apps like Timely capture every tool you use for work – from calendar events, emails, documents, websites and your favourite work apps – to make sure you have an accurate record of what you did. It can even track GPS location data, so off-site meetings and travel for work make it to your timesheet.