Wasting my time?

Posted: 23rd October 2008

I had a bit of a revelation at the weekend. I worked out what our turnover would be if we both did 4 hours of billable work a day at our standard hourly rate. Bit of a shock because it was around three times what we are actually bringing in. That’s not good is it? Though in some ways it’s encouraging because it means that we do have the capacity to bring in much more with just the two of us working on the business.

So, what are we doing so wrong that we’re not bringing in that much? In an 8-hour working day it should surely be quite straightforward to work 4 billable hours, shouldn’t it? We always seem very busy but are we spending too much time on admin, or is it that we’re just so bad at quoting that we end up working for much less than our hourly rate? That’s what we need to work out.

Based on my findings we’ve started tracking much more closely how much of our day is spent on work that we can class as billable. So far we’re finding that in a normal working day it can be quite difficult to do the required 4 hours – quite a bit of time is spent preparing quotes for prospective clients, which we can’t charge for, and then there’s the necessary admin tasks and keeping on top of emails. Still, I’m not giving up on the 4-hour target, I think we need to work on our efficiency and make sure that we actively aim for that every day. Hopefully this will have a knock-on effect to how quickly we get things finished and our general project management (yep, back to the project management again!).

Let’s see if we can make a breakthrough!

4 Responses

  1. Nicola says:

    Hi Emily,

    I’ve been trying much the same tack in work recently, by trying to identify and spend more time on tasks that I know my boss would value, rather than being drwan into the day-to-day “busyness”, eg, e-mail, office politics/chit-chat, general admin etc.

    It’s been quite difficult, but I feel I’ve had some success and as a result, feel far more motivated than usual.

    I haven’t gone quite so far as to set aside a definite amount of hours to aim for, but perhaps this would be useful. Think I might give it a try.


    • Emily says:

      Hi Nicola

      Thanks for your comment. At least working from home I don’t have to worry about office politics, but it’s amazing how much time email can soak up! Sounds like you’re making some good progress with focusing on high value tasks.

      Let me know how you get on with setting a time goal. I don’t know whether I’m being a bit too obsessive by doing it, but if it gives me more control over getting paid work done then that must be a good thing.

      Cheers, Emily

  2. I would LOVE to only have to bill 4 hours each day! Seriously though I fully understand what you mean and one of the main culprits which stops me (or used to) is email. I used to respond to email as and when they arrived in my inbox. Stop doing what I was working on and reply.

    Now I open my inbox no more than three times each day and frankly it is wonderful:)

    So anyone emailing me and expecting a quick (within 1 hour) reply may have a shock. But I have told all my clients about this new systenm and I always guarantee to respond to any phone or email message within one business day – never failed yet;)

  3. Emily says:

    Hi Shaun, how you doing? I’d love to be able to bill more than 4 hours but even 4 seems quite a push. Yep, email is terrible for hogging time. The last couple of weeks we’ve been working on quite a few proposals and that seems to take up quite a bit of time – obviously it’s worth doing but it’s time we can’t bill for … maybe we just need to get more efficient at putting them together!

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