For a consultant, time is money. Tracking your time is essential for billing clients and making sure you get paid for the work you've completed. Consulting hours consist of time you've worked on the project, as well as travel time. Accurately tracking hours means accurate invoices and accurate estimates for future consulting projects.
Create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet software. Create a workbook page for each client to avoid billing confusion. For each client, create a column with the project name, project start date and projected hours on the project. Add two columns with a date for the tasks performed that day and the hours spent on them. Create a separate column at the end of each project for expenses. Though these will not necessarily be reimbursed by the client, they are tax-deductible and should be tracked.
Download time-tracking software or a time-tracking application you can use on your phone. Use computer software such as Toggl, Harvest or yaTimer to track time from your desktop. Use Harvest, iTimeSheet or TimeWriter to track time directly from your iPhone or Blackberry.
Use time-tracking software to track travel time, phone time and physical consulting hours for the client. Enter the total number of hours worked per day into the spreadsheet at the end of each day.
Bill clients on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on the contract terms. Use freelancing or consulting billing software such as QuickBooks or MacFreelance to enter the total number of hours spent on the project and bill clients. Make sure to detail what the hours included by using the information entered into your spreadsheet.
Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.