Time-Space Percentage: Accurately Tracking and Reporting your Time Percent

See this article in infographic form.

In the first installment of our time-space percentage series, we discussed how to maximize the space percent of your time-space equation by properly designating all rooms in your home. This installment will focus on the other part of the equation – your time. As a refresher, the time-space percentage equation is:

Time Percent * Space Percent = Time-Space Percentage

The Time Percent (total # of business hours at home / by the total # of hours in a year) is multiplied by the Space Percent (total # square feet of home used for business / by square footage of the home).

As mentioned previously, there is oftentimes an underreporting of the final time-space percentage number. On the Space Percent side, that is largely due to not realizing just how many rooms can qualify for this figure (or not utilizing the exclusive use rule).

On the Time Percent side? Well, people do not realize just how much time they spend in their home working on their business! It is all the time in your home that you are working on your business – not just the times when a child is in your care.

Let’s run through some example scenarios to help explain what does can count towards your time:

  1. One child is in your care, is napping, and you are putting toys away.
    Yes, of course this counts!

  2. No children are in your care at present and you are working on your parent newsletter for next month.

    Yes, this is time spent on your business! Whether it is paperwork, cleaning, activity preparation, or something else in your home – that counts!

  3. No children are in your care at present and you are resting after a long day. However, your spouse is helping by cleaning up the play area for tomorrow.
    Yes, this counts! The business is being worked on in your home! However, if both of you are cleaning up at the same time, you CANNOT double-count that time. The same is true if your spouse is working on something business-related while you are caring for children.
  4. No children are present and you are out at the grocery store buying supplies for next week.
    No, this does not count. Time percent must be the time spent on your business inside your home or on your property doing business-related things. You can, however, record the mileage as a tax write-off - and you can count the time you spent at home preparing your grocery list.

Anecdotally, I have heard providers mention that they add an extra hour each day outside of the time a child is in their care. That is not a sound process for a myriad of reasons, including (1) that is most likely an underreporting and (2) there is no recordkeeping to back up that claim.

You are going to need records to substantiate the amount of time working in your home – the basic rule is that you should have at least two months of data in order to project it for the whole year. This is where ELV and our Alliance CORE child care management system comes in!

Utilizing Alliance CORE for Time Percent Tracking

Within the kiosk where your parents check children in and out each day, there is an option for “Staff Check-In/Out.” You can do this from any of your devices – you can even download the ELV Kiosk app for your phone to allow for easy check-in/out.

If you can form the habit, for at least two months, of checking yourself in at the start and end of each workday, you’re going to start getting great, trackable data! Then, at 9:00 PM when you have to answer a few parent emails, you can check yourself in and out again… it is all these little moments that can build and prove just how much time you spend on your business.

A next step would then be to remember to add your spouse’s time, if applicable. Every little bit helps increase your Time-Space percentage.

Come tax season, you can pull your staff attendance report and find out exactly how many hours you spent in your home working on your business. Combine that with the Space Percent and BOOM! There you go – data-backed records of your (almost assuredly higher than previous years) time-space percentage, helping offset all your costs.

As always, ELV is happy to support you in this endeavor. If you would like help getting used to tracking staff attendance in CORE, please email us at elvclientsupport@earlylearningventures.org or call us at (844) 293-2820.

This article and series was made possible by ELV’s partnership with the Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN), a program of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association. We owe much of the expertise above to Kelly Matthews, a former family child care home provider and current Co-Director of WEESSN.

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