One of the most important aspects of running a business is making sure that you stay organized and on track with what you need to do. If you are running a service business, it is especially important to make sure you track your time, know how long every task will take and schedule things according to the time you will need to get things done.
Over the last three years while I have been a Virtual Assistant and Ghostwriter, I have realized just how necessary this can be. If I know that it takes an hour to properly research and write a 650 word article or 2.5 hours to create a 750 word tutorial with screen shots, I know that I can only schedule in a few projects per day. If I have anything else going on, I need to be able to plan and make sure that if anything can be broken down in ten minute tasks, I can fit them in throughout my day and make sure I get the most from each day.
To me there are 2 business tools no business owner can be without. One is a time tracker and the other is an agenda book.
Timestamp is a free application that you can download and install to your computer. It works well with all Windows based platforms and is designed to be easy enough for even a non techie to work.
Here is a screen shot of what the main screen looks like( if you have a problem seeing the images clearly, just click on them and a larger version will pop up-but don’t forget to click that BACK button again or you will loose this page and have to come back to it again!):
This is great for those who are just getting started with writing or virtual assistant work online. If you are wondering how much money you can make per hour, you could calculate it using this. You could begin by timing yourself per article and not worry about the spot where you enter in your price since you usually get paid by the article. So for example: say you had 5 articles to do for the day. Each article paid $10 for 400 words. When you were ready to do your first article, you would just click to start the clock.
Say it takes you about 45 minutes to research and write that first article. When you are done, you want to pause the software so you can take a break and then prepare for the next article. Just go back up to where you were before to hit the start action and you should now see an option to stop.
When you are ready to start again, repeat the process and the program will pick up where you left off.
Each time you have it record it will note the time spent and calculate how much you made based on the sum you entered in your hourly pay area. If you are looking to find that out, then just leave the default up for now until you can get a good gauge of how long an article takes to do.
So say you find out that you can complete 5 articles in 4 hours. If each article is $10 a piece, you need to calculate how much that works out to an hour which is $50(for the articles) divided by 4 hours, works out to you make on average $12.50 per hour. Now you could use that as a basis when you contract for more work and since you know that you want to make $15 an hour, you would need to make at least $15 per article from now on or change your strategy a little and try to work faster in order to complete 2 articles an hour(30 minutes a piece instead of 45 minutes) and you would also see your income go up to $20 an hour based on that same rate of pay. But at least you would be able to use this to record how long you take and keep track of your time which can be very important to a writer who is trying to take on as much work as she can to pay the bills.
I found this program extremely useful when tracking time with my Virtual Assistant clients. In this way, I could either tell them to download the program if they wanted me to send them a copy of the saved data, or I could take a screen shot to email them, or in most cases, the client left that to me and as long as I provided a document detailing the work completed for that time, all was well and paid for.
I kind of ran away with this post and don’t want to take up too much more of your time but still want to mention to you about the agenda. Now I know you can go and get an agenda at your local office depot store nearby or even Walmart, but there are a few reasons why I think the Mom Agendas stand out among the crowd.
First off, right now they are running a big promotion that will allow you to get your agenda with 35% off the original price. This agenda is great because it is in a larger format than other day planners and provides a way that you can not only track your own tasks for the day but also schedule in events for up to four children. Having all this available at once glance can save you hours of time and hassle.
Also these calendars provide for a year and a half worth of planning so you can schedule doctors appointments, or business events way into the future without worrying about forgetting or scheduling things when you are on vacation. It also comes with two folders that fold up so that you can keep receipts, documents, passports or any other important information you would like nearby that pertains to the events posted within your agenda.
You can also get it personalized! That is the neat part I think. Another form of advertising. Say you are sitting on the bus or at the doctors office and writing in some quick notes, if someone glances over and sees your business name on the book, they may strike up a conversation which could land you a lead, a customer or a new client.
And they also come in a variety of colors and patterns so you can add a little spunk and fun into your day.
If you want to go claim your discount right now and see how these excellent agendas can help you and your family stay organized and on track, just click on the banner below and check it out.
I would love to hear about other tools you use to help you stay organized and run both your home and business. Feel free to post a comment below.