Timekeeping for Virtual Assistants, and Complicated Cell Phone Questions.
February 10, 2011 8:41 PM   Subscribe

How can I best keep track of my time when working remotely for another party? I'll be responding to inquiries by cell phone, and double-checking to make sure insurance information is kosher. But I have a problem: I have no idea how to keep track of my time.

This will likely be in 1-10 minute increments, done between classes. I'll be checking voicemail, and responding to calls. How can I track this? Are there any good phone apps? Part of the problem is that (and I'll talk this over with my employer this weekend, but I want to have some good ideas) I have no idea what phone I'll be using. My employer wants to use the pre-existing phone number, and doesn't want my personal phone number involved in any way.

So, while my first thought was a time-keeping app for my iPhone, I'll most likely be using a cheaper phone that she provides that will not be a smart phone. Is there any way to dump the call time data from a regular cell phone, either into an app on the computer, or into a spreadsheet? I thought about having calls forwarded to my iPhone, but then there's the problem of calling people back, and of keeping time spent on my personal calls separate from time spent on business calls.

I'm also interested in applications for the computer, as part of my time will be spent doing paperwork online. Keeping track of time in less than ten minute increments would be a pain in the neck to do manually, and likely very inaccurate as well. Has anyone else had to deal with this, and found some nice tools or solutions?
posted by thelastcamel to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Carry a chronometer?
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:00 PM on February 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Spreadsheets work. There are good time-keeping apps available on iOS devices, not all of which are phones. iPad and iPod Touch come to mind. Also, amazing as it may sound, you can actually write times down on "paper", and then figure out times based on that. You can keep those times in a "notebook" (made of paper, not computer hardware). Treat yourself and get moleskin.
posted by Goofyy at 5:51 AM on February 11, 2011

My argument with paper is that I may be walking and carrying a backpack while returning calls. But I hear ya. Sounds like there are two votes for back to basics.

The plus with a spreadsheet is that I can upload and email it to my employer easily without compatibility issues.
posted by thelastcamel at 8:16 AM on February 11, 2011

Depending on the cell phone's carrier, there may be specific call time data, including numbers and whether the call was outgoing or incoming, on the carrier's website.

Failing that, what about a simple watch with a stopwatch function?
posted by Night_owl at 11:19 AM on February 11, 2011

It's a long shot, but can you find and use a dual-sim card phone? Probably you'd want a passive model in order to avoid dialing from the wrong number. Of course, your iPhone won't fit into that equation, and if the employer provided phone is CDMA (or your iphone is of the newly minted verizon variety), this won't have a chance.

There are time tracker tools available for windows / osx. You click a timer start widget and a timer stop widget. Some even take screenshots for posterity.
posted by pwnguin at 4:28 PM on February 11, 2011

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