How to Boost Your Productivity by Tracking Your Time
I’m a big fan of time tracking to boost productivity. Will it work for you too? Let’s find out.
How to Boost Your Productivity
by Tracking Your Time
Does tracking your time make you more productive?
Firstly, I have just got to say that I track my time. I track every minute I work. Whether it’s for my clients or working on my business, I always know how much time I am spending and on which tasks and projects.
Do I think it makes me more productive?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, because it highlights areas where I may be wasting time or spending too long.It also helps me to understand just how long tasks take, which is great when it comes to planning and scheduling work.
However, there is a no to this, because it can sometimes provide me with a weapon to beat myself around the head with, as I now have cold hard figures taunting me and telling me I am lazy or unfocused. For this reason, it’s important that I use my time tracking data in a certain way and make sure it is used for good and not evil.
How do you decide if time tracking is for you?
Let’s ask a few questions to find out….
- Do you sometimes have no idea where your time goes each day?
- Would you love a better understanding of how long certain tasks take to complete?
- Do you invoice clients based on the time you have worked?
- Do you work from home without the structure of a 9-5 working day?
- Do you regularly burn out from working long hours and not taking enough time off?
If you answered yes to any of these, then you should give time tracking a chance.
Let me show you how I track my time
I use an online application called Toggl, which has a more than adequate free version, is super easy to set up and you can use it via your PC, laptop or mobile phone.
What I love about Toggl is the ability to create clients, projects and tasks which make the reporting tool really valuable. And once I got into the habit of starting and stopping the timer for every task I performed during my working day, I found there was no real hassle to using the app at all.
As soon as I get into the office each morning, I open my browser then open Toggl, this is the first thing I do, as everything that happens next will be tracked.
Now, there are times when I am faffing and procrastinating (I am human after all) so I have created a task called ‘Faffing’ to help me highlight times of the day when I am not as productive as I would like to be. The simple action of entering faffing into the tracker makes me instantly aware of the fact I am about to waste some time. This helps me make decisions about my day. Can I turn this faffing into something more productive, or do I need to take a break and come back when I am not wasting time at my desk under the delusion of doing some real work? - let’s face it we all do it!
Not keen on using a tracking app?
Let’s take a look at another way to track your time. Time tracking is basically creating a log of what you do during the day and how long it takes for you to do each task. It’s as simple as that. How complex you make it all depends on what information and insights you want to glean from tracking your time.
You can create a simple time tracking log in Excel or Google Sheets or even just create a table in Word if you would prefer. The primary columns I would suggest for your table would be;
- Task description
- Project/client name
- Start time
- End time
- Total time
You can add more columns to this depending on the information you would like to monitor.
The downside to using a spreadsheet is the need for manual input and the use of formulas to calculate time taken by task type. Also, this won’t be as accurate as an online tracking app, but it’s a good start.
What should you be tracking?
Well, it all depends on what you want to measure.
- Do you want to know how many hours you work in a day, a week or a month?
- Do you want to know how much time you spend working for a client to invoice accuratley?
- Maybe you want to see how much time you ‘waste’ on unimportant tasks each day
- Or maybe you want to monitor your work life balance and compare how much time you spend at work, with how much time you spend with your family.
Whatever it is, make sure you are clear on what you want time tracking to show you and why.
How often should you analyse your tracking results?
What you do with the results depends on what you are tracking and why. I would recommend reviewing your business time tracking weekly, but if you are tracking your work life balance then monthly would give you more to work with.
The important things here is if you are going to make the effort to track your time then make sure you do something with the information you generate, otherwise, what’s the point.
What do I do with my time tracking results
For me, I regularly keep a close eye on the total number of hours I work each week and try to stay at around 40 and make sure I never go above 50 as I know from experience this is where burnout starts for me.
Tracking my time made it possible to work out how many hours a week I could comfortably work without burning out, which has made a massive difference to my working week. Using this as a tool to avoid burnout has been priceless.
I also monitor the balance between client work and work in and on my business.Around 25% of my working week is spent ‘in’ my business, working on the admin tasks that keep my business ticking over, so that includes writing articles such as this one, sending out my weekly newsletter, creating new social media content and keeping my business finances up to date for example.
Approximately 50% of my working week is allocated to my service clients. This is the optimal amount of time I can allocate and still give my best to my clients without compromising quality due to being overworked or fatigued. This is something I was able to determine from tracking my time.
And, the final 25% of my working week is spent working ‘on’ my business, which includes developing new programmes and services as well as supporting my programme subscribers
Let’s go back to the original question;
Can you boost productivity by tracking your time?
Time tracking has many benefits; you can,
- See how many hours you work
- See how many hours you waste
- Work out your most productive time of the day
- Use the information to plan, schedule and prioritise your work with great efficiency
I personally believe time tracking is essential for small business owners who work from home and has a busy life if they want to work smarter with the limited time they have available to them.
Time tracking will help you to understand how well you use your time and assist you in making decisions about how you use your time in the future.
Have a super productive day.
Do you track your time?
Or is it something you would like to start doing?
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