Outlook Time Tracking – Expert Time Tracking Tips
It doesn’t matter where you work, which hours you do, what you do, or how busy you are; when it comes to running a business, time is money. However, time can easily be spent in a not so optimal way if you’re not careful. Minutes feel like seconds, and before you know it half of the working day has passed you by, and you’re lucky if you’ve achieved half of the things you were hoping to achieve. This is where Outlook time tracking proves to be so beneficial.
Time tracking software is proving increasingly popular among all kinds of organizations and companies, and rightfully so. To get the most out of your time and your timesheet solution, however, it’s essential that you understand how to use the software to your advantage. The right Outlook reporting software is not difficult to use, which is one of the reasons why it’s so popular, because it’s so user-friendly. Despite this, there are probably still things that you should familiarize yourself with to get the most from it. Here’s a look at what time reporting is, as well as a few tried and tested expert tips.
What is time reporting software?
Very simply, time tracking software is a specialist digital tool utilized by employees, freelancers, and business managers all over the world, and is designed to record the amount of time spent on activities and projects, which can then help with payroll, billing, and general operations relating to your business and line of work. Time reporting software is very useful because it allows you to see exactly how far along you are with various tasks and projects, how many hours you and/or your employees have worked, where your resources are being utilized the most, and plenty more besides. One of the most under-appreciated aspects of this kind of software solution, is the fact that it allows you to get a better overview of your business and organization. The software will show you where most of your time/your staff’s time is being spent, and what may be costing your business the most money as well as time. You can then look at the data, and use it to make the necessary adjustments and alterations.
Proven Outlook time tracking tips
Now we’re going to list a few proven time reporting tips that will help you to get more from your Outlook time tracking software:
Build on something your users know
When introducing a new software tool into your organization, or for that matter any kind of change, it is always a good idea to build on something your employees already know and are familiar with.
Most professional organizations today use the Microsoft Outlook Calendar to manage their time. You should find a solution that builds on this and lets you report your time via your calendar. With the right add-in to Outlook, you can easily track time based on your calendar appointments, so utilize this.
Project your time in advance
As awesome as Outlook time tracking software is, it can’t see into the future and it can’t do your work for you. If you want to get the most out of the software, it is down to you to project your time in advance. Thankfully, the software does allow you to do precisely that, in a very simple fashion. One of the best things about using Outlook timesheet reporting is the fact that as it integrates with Outlook, you can utilize a wide variety of different features associated with Outlook. Calendar for example, is extremely useful for time projection. Many experts will enter important work deadlines into their calendars as events, along with the amount of time in hours it is estimated that they will complete them. On days, where they will be working on more than one task during the day, the working time required can be blocked. By blocking them off and staggering the hours, you can then switch between different projects, and do certain amounts on each one. By blocking off the time in the calendar, you know exactly when deadlines need to be hit, and you can use the software to track how long you’re spending on each activity and project. This makes time projection for future tasks much simpler.
Create basic block schedules
As far as hours reporting goes, one of the most effective ways of managing and tracking your time is to create a basic block schedule. This will allow you to get a clear and concise idea of how your working day is going to go. Block schedules will allow you to break your working day down into bite-sized chunks. For example, if you start work at 9am, 9am – 10am could be for answering emails, returning calls, getting ready for the day ahead. 10am – 12pm could be a solid two hours of work on your most important task. 12pm – 1pm will be for lunch, 1pm – 3pm could again be for working on another project, and so on. When you break your working day down into smaller chunks by creating and sticking to block schedules, you know exactly where you stand, and you know exactly what needs to be done, and how long you have to do it. Now, do not take it too literally, as you don’t need to dedicate that precise amount of time to each project. And if you finish one project early, don’t just sit around twiddling your thumbs until you were due to start the next task. Get started on the next task early and you will get that finished quicker, and you may even get an early finish.
Set up reminders
Another very useful feature of good Outlook timesheet software, is the fact that it allows you to utilize features associated with Outlook. This means that you can set yourself reminders. If you are busy working on multiple projects at once, you may find the occasional project slipping through the cracks, as it were. By the time you realize that an important deadline is fast approaching it might be too late. Now you need to request an extension of the deadline, which could then disrupt your other projects and create a chain reaction effect. One of the best ways of ensuring that this never happens is to use time tracking software and other integrated features, to set up reminders in advance for approaching deadlines. Create reminders to remind you of approaching deadlines well in advance, as that way you can ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. You can even make important notes about certain tasks and projects. In a perfect world we’d never forget, and we wouldn’t need to set reminders or leave ourselves notes, but the busier you are, the more likely you are to forget. You can even remind yourself what you’ve been working on previously.
Don’t fear the tech
One of the biggest issues that people have with time reporting software, is actually fearing the technology itself. Technology is not to be feared, it is to be embraced, as when utilized correctly, it can make life so much easier for a whole variety of reasons. If you’re not sure about whether or not time tracking software is for you, or your company in general, the best advice that we can give is to simply go ahead and try it for yourself. People often work under the impression that the technology is going to be super advanced and incredibly complex to use. In reality, in most cases it is extremely user-friendly, which is why it’s so popular and effective in the first place. Furthermore, as Outlook time tracking integrates with Outlook, which is itself very user-friendly, using the software is a piece of cake.
Things to consider before buying time tracking software
We’re now going to finish up by looking at several things to consider before you purchase time tracking software. Remember, this tech is very popular and very effective, so it is in high demand. As a result, you won’t be short of options when buying. It’s important, however, to choose the right software. Here are a few tips and things to consider before purchasing time tracking software:
Strong reporting capabilities
The right time reporting solution should come with strong reporting capabilities. This will ensure that you get the right kind of overview of how time is being spent in different areas of your organization, and on which projects and activities.
It should be easy to create these reports and it should offer you different kinds of search criteria that you can use.
A quick graphical overview is also something to consider here, as this will help with the overview and comprehension of your data, and enhance your decision capabilities even further.
Furthermore being able to save these reports to Excel or print it to pdf or paper is a must, as you can then easily share this data with relevant stakeholders.
Where do you work?
If you run a business then you will likely be at the physical location of your business. If you’re a freelancer or consultant, though, you will likely either be at home, or on the go. Before you commit to buying Outlook time tracking software, you need to decide which software is best for you, based upon where you work the most.
That being said, most people today have a laptop that they can easily bring with them, whereever they work, and this will in most cases also be with Outlook installed, so that you can easily access your calendar and thereby also your time reporting solution.
If for some reason you don’t have access to your Outlook calendar, the right solution should also provide you with a web interface from where you can manage your time entries.
Expenses and hourly rates
In some organizations, some employees may have the need to also track expenses and possibly have hourly rates. Your timesheet solution should therefor come with an option to have these capabilities, so that users can easily track their expenses together with their time entries, and you should be able to easily get an overview of these expenses, and have the ability to create a template for reimbursement purposes.
Also, having hourly rates in your time reporting system makes good sense in a lot of cases, since it simplifies your financial overview. This will allow you to quickly see your cost, revenue and profit on different projects, clients, activities, etc.
This should of course be optional, so if you don’t need it, you don’t need to use these features.
Which features do you need?
Again, in terms of which features you require, this will all depend on you, what you need the software for, what you do, and who else may be using it. As mentioned, Outlook time tracking software is incredibly beneficial because it integrates with Outlook. This enables you to utilize all of the various features associated with Outlook, along with the new software. By combining them together, you have the perfect tool for tracking time. Take the Outlook Calendar function for example. On its own it is perfectly useful, but by integrating it with an Outlook time tracking add-in, you can now use your calendar as a way of reporting your time, monitoring progress, setting deadlines and targets, and a whole lot more besides.
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