Track Your Time & Your Money …

Because you waste alot of it… (And by you, I mean me).

Tracking your time and money are not sciences, they are arts. Meaning: one only gets good at it when one develops (and adheres) to a system and then uses that input for strategic advantage. Whatever system one develops, it’s the execution of that system that makes the endeavor worth while. Shoebox for receipts? Whatever. Timesheets to track design time? Sure … But, it’s about your personal style and getting better at being (the productive) you than anything else.

I mentioned the audio interview with Mark Simon the other day on the Five Ways To Get Hired and this was another thing he said: track your money. The reasons abound as to why you should, but Simon maintains that all kidding aside you can deduct more and essentially earn more of the money you make, if you legitimately claim the expenses needed to conduct your business by accurately tracking them. Tracking income is something we are conditioned to do, but tracking expenses is much less discussed and just as important.

Time is the same way. Whether one works in-house or freelance, knowing the timeline for project execution becomes critical when estimating for the completion of new work or understanding where current projects go into the weeds on timelines. The end result of tracking your time? Letting your phone go to voicemail a little more, staying away from constant Facebook updates, keeping email traffic contained to a certain time and, then maximizing your creative time to actually do something that is—gasp—creative.

I had a colleague who ended up on a project that had some “responsibility creep”. She was asked to re-design a logo on a current project on which she worked. Apparently the AE thought it would be a simple thing. Sometimes it is. Well, endless revisions stages later, the colleague asked whether it was appropriate for the time to be pulled away from the paid assignment to the bonus assignment, in such a manner as it had been. Scott Belsky’s recent book Making Ideas Happen—which I endorse for those of you looking to invigorate your task completion abilities—interviewed a person who found that he checked e-mail 37 times a day.

“The state of reactionary workflow occurs when you get stuck simply reacting to whatever flows into the top of an in-box. Instead of focusing on what is most important and actionable, you spend too much time just trying to stay afloat.” Moreover, Reactionary workflow prevents designers from being proactive with their energy.

Maybe, with the time and money you save, you’ll be able to send some comments along about how the time you were able to save, helped you produce that additional design piece, spend more time with your family.

By AIGA Baltimore
Published August 28, 2010