5 Reasons to Start Tracking Work Time in Microsoft Outlook – How to Track Time in Outlook
Time. It’s the one resource that we’re all dealt in equal measure. That’s probably why we’re all so focused on using it as efficiently as possible.
In order to make the best use of the time we have available and gain a competitive edge in business, we need to track, log and analyze our projects to maximize efficiency.
Sounds complicated right?
Well, it shouldn’t!
Tracking time isn’t the complex and laborious task it once was. These days, there are many apps specifically designed for the purpose of tracking time and enhancing productivity. Even Microsoft Outlook’s calendar, the humble office workhorse, can be turned into a powerful time tracking tool with the help of a few choice add-ons.
Microsoft Outlook? Can You Track Time with That?
Here’s the thing: Virtually everyone uses Microsoft’s ubiquitous calendar on a daily basis. You (and your team) understand how it works, and you can be certain it’s fully compatible with your current workflow.
Better then, to continue using Microsoft Outlook’s calendar to plan and schedule your projects, whilst employing a few choice productivity integrations or “Add-Ins” to supercharge its time tracking potential.
So with that in mind, here are five benefits that come from more efficiently tracking time, and how you can use Microsoft Outlook Add-Ins to realize those benefits for yourself:
1. Tracking Work Time Makes Billing Easier
If you’re looking for ways to improve time tracking in your business, cost savings are almost certainly your primary motivation.
Accurately tracking how many hours you (or your team) spent on a project helps to prove to your clients exactly what they’ve paid for. Beyond that, keeping detailed, itemized time logs of your projects makes drafting up proposals and quoting for future jobs far simpler.
Tracking Hourly Rates
Using tools that integrate with the Outlook calendar, it’s possible to define hourly rates for individual team members or tasks. Once that data is set, every time you schedule a calendar event, the entry will contain accurate rate data for that task (or person). Even if you bill clients per project, it’s still extremely valuable to know what your profit margin will be before drafting a proposal.
Adding Expenses to Calendar Entries
In addition to pricing tasks and time blocks by hourly rate, it’s also possible to use Outlook integrations to add expenses to calendar entries on the fly. That means you (or your team members) can use the company’s basic calendar to input things like hotel costs and even materials.
Once costs and hourly rates have been added to Outlook calendar entries with the help of an add-in, it then becomes possible to export the data as a detailed report, complete with graphical charts and tables. In addition, it’s also possible to use Outlook Add-Ins to export calendar finance data into your accounting software or CRM.
2. Tracking Work Time Gives Valuable Insights
On a personal level, even individual freelancers can see huge gains in efficiency from tracking time properly: Once you’ve seen the stark reality of your schedule, you’ll be able to take a deep dive into your workflow and look for ways to enhance your productivity.
Tracking time in Outlook also allows you to see exactly which of your clients demands the most of your time, and which particular aspects of your workflow take longest to complete.
Ever heard of the Pareto Principle?
In a business setting, it usually means that 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients. On the other hand, it could also mean that 20% of your clients demand 80% of your available time!
If you can clearly see that one or two of your clients requires significantly more time and effort than the others, it’s probably time to selectively increase your prices!
3. Tracking Work Time Streamlines Project Management
Now you know which clients are the costliest to work with, and which jobs take the longest to complete, you’ll be able to prioritize the most profitable contracts first, and identify if a potential lead is actually worth your time at all.
Filling Your Schedule
Once projects are underway, and your team knows how to track time in Outlook, analyzing the data gleaned from your Outlook add-in allows you to delegate tasks more confidently and set tighter deadlines due to more accurate forecasting.
After a time, your Outlook calendar add-in will contain lots of valuable data on the expenses required on each type of project. That kind of information makes it easier to arrange contracts or projects based on cashflow, rather than simply allocating time to projects based on chronological order.
4. Tracking Work Time Makes Accounting Simple
Using an Outlook calendar based add-in makes gathering financial information much more efficient. Once you and your team have gotten used to the habit of adding expenses and time slots to a calendar, it’s a breeze to export data and add it to your accounting app of choice.
Tight integration like this, and knowing how to track time in Outlook, means less time guessing billable hours, and avoids the frustration of hunting down expenses at the end of each project.
5. Tracking Work Time Makes for a Happier Team
Teams work best and are at their happiest when they’re operating to a schedule.
If everyone knows exactly what they’re doing and when, workloads won’t get out of hand and deadlines won’t overrun.
Using a time tracking integration in Outlook for tracking work time makes it simple to review previous calendar entries and decide if enough (or too much) time was allocated to each task. This makes planning meetings more efficient, and with time, also allows savvy managers to allocate the most appropriate tasks to each team member, and even allows team leaders to understand how their staff are performing.
In Conclusion and How To Track Time in Outlook
So there you have it. Five key reasons to step up your project management game and begin logging time more effectively. With the help of familiar tools like Microsoft Outlook’s calendar and a few choice add-ins, tracking time needn’t be daunting or hard to implement either!
So what are you waiting for? The clock’s ticking!
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