Time Management: Analysing your Day with Outlook Journals

February 15, 2011

As a Virtual Assistant I need to be absolutely accurate in time spent on task in order to invoice clients at the end of each month.  To do this I use MS Outlook Journal’s function.

However it doesn’t stop with client tasks.  Much of my day is spent on tasks not chargeable for example:

  • Social Media Networking for my business
  • Replying to client emails
  • Meeting new clients
  • Lunch (!)
  • Phone calls
In order to analyse how my day is spent and what improvements need to be made (for instance I now check and respond to emails at two hour intervals rather than as they come in) each task, whether for a client or for my own business is recorded as a Journal.  It can then view and analyse in Excel to see patterns and possible improvements.
To Record a Task in Outlook
1.   Open your Journals Folder from your Outlook Shortcuts (also under your Folders Menu)
2.   Create New Journal Entry
3.   Enter the following details
  • subject
  • entry type (i.e. task, phone call, note)
  • select either category, contact name or company (how you want to group your journals)

4.   Press the Start Time icon to proceed, Pause Time icon when you finish or are interrupted from your task

 5.   To analyse, from the view menu select preferred view.  My default view is ‘Entry List’ which sorts all journals by contact name.  When analysing I then click on the ‘Last 7 Days’ to view previous 7 day’s tasks.  I then copy these into Excel and feed the data into my reports.
And it’s that simple!  I have been using Journals for years as my billing system, no matter which accounting program I am using, I can always access time spent on task in order to invoice.
If you have any problems or questions about this procedure, please contact me and I will be happy to talk you through this or send you further information.  Likewise if you would like a spread sheet report designed to capture and report data.

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