120114_clockOn Tuesday, I talked about the importance of time tracking to your success as a freelancer. Today, let’s analyze my actual October 2014 numbers to see how and where I can improve my efficiency.

Where did my time go in October 2014?

According to OfficeTime (which produces a lovely little pie chart, by the way), I spent my time in October this way:

  • Administration: 8 hours
  • Client A: 11 hours
  • Client B: 10 hours
  • Client C:  9 hours
  • Client D: 2 hours
  • Coaching activities: 5.5 hours
  • RN2Writer: 2 hours
  • Marketing: 5 hours
  • Personal/unbillable: 9.5 hours

Total time spent in the office in October 2014: 62 hours.

Analyzing the numbers

Now that I have an idea of what a typical month looks like for me in my business, I can further analyze these data.

For example, in October I spent an average of 15.5 hours per week at the desk (62 total hours divided by 4 weeks in the month). That doesn’t sound like much, does it? And I certainly would like to increase that for 2015. But we need to look beyond the simplicity of “total hours in the office” for a more revealing stat: efficiency.

In October, I was about 85% efficient with my time. What do I mean by that? I define “efficiency” as “time spent in productive business activities.” This includes time I spend on business administration, marketing and anything else that moves my business forward, even if it’s not billable.

I calculate my efficiency by adding up all my productive hours (52.5) and dividing them by total hours (62) to get 85%. That’s quite good. Many experts estimate people with desk jobs range from 50-75% productive. I’m happy with 85%. (Related calculation: unproductive time. 9.5/62 = 15%.)

Next, let’s look at billable time in proportion to administrative time. In October, approximately 60% of my time was billable. Thus, about 40% of my time was non-billable. Subtract the 15% of unproductive time, and the numbers say I spent about 25% of my time on business administration and marketing. I don’t think that’s bad. I’m sure I can get that percentage down by becoming even more efficient, though. Maybe I need to work my systems better or something. In 2015, I will shoot for half that: 12.5% for administration. Reducing the time I spend on administration will free up more of my time for moneymaking activities.

How do your numbers stack up?

Do you see from this snapshot how important time tracking is? How do your 2014 numbers stack up? Where can you be more efficient?

For 2015, set a goal to use a time-tracking system faithfully each time you sit down at your desk to work. Analyze your results each month or each quarter, just as you do with your business financials. You may be amazed at how much you can improve your efficiency simply by finding out where your time really goes.

Wishing you well!