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Monday, January 5, 2009

Recordkeeping for 2009

Do you have a system to keep track of each file and how much it pays? While this is something most of us would agree is very important, it's also an easy area to let slip. I didn't keep very good records until 2007, which meant there was no way to confirm or reconcile my 1099s for the previous years.

However, reconciling 1099s is not the only reason you should be keeping good records. Having a running work log also makes invoicing easier, helps you track payment on your files and gives you an idea of how much you're earning on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis without having to constantly do the math in your head.

If you don't currently have one set up, I encourage you to take a few minutes right now and set up an Excel spreadsheet. You can worry about formulas and functionality later, but for now, set up a tab for each company you work for. Double click on the tab to rename it so that you can quickly see where each company's information is kept.

At the top, decide what information you want to include. I use:

Date, File Name, Length in Minutes, Pay Rate Per Minute, Total

(Of course, if you're paid by page, word, etc., you'll have to adjust those)

Enter your files here each and every time they're assigned. You can use this to track your workflow as well by settng up a color code or adding another column to keep notes about the file. Whichever system you choose, you can mark them as pending, in progress, completed, invoiced and paid so that you always know what's outstanding.

I'll share more about how you can increase the functionality of your log later on, but for now, it's enough to just start tracking those files!