How to track your time to increase productivity
Time management is a skill I think many of us have really lost with the number of distractions pulling us in multiple directions.
It’s similar to exercise, if you don’t stay on top of it and make a conscious effort, it gets away from you. I noticed I felt tired and worn out after “working” all day but less and less seemed to be getting done.
I decided to start tracking my time to find out where my hours were really going and it was surprising how much time I spent “working” that we’re completely unnecessary. How long things really took my and how productive my day really could have been was unbelieveable.
I would always just tell myself there “wasn’t enough hours in the day” (even though I’m sure 16 hours is actually plenty).
Now I don’t let time get away from me to stay on track and working more efficiently.
I tried out a few different methods for tracking time.
For personal projects, I started using Toggl. I wrote about it in a previous post, actually. It’s awesome. It allows you to track time by project and keep track of how much time you’ve spent on each in a really simple interface. If you’re a contract worker, you can use this to track billable hours.
For my work with Hibox, I use Hibox’s task time tracking feature. It’s built into the app and I can just click “start” to track my tasks. I know exactly how long certain tasks take so I can compare. There’s also an added push to get things done efficiently when I know the timer is on which is great.
Schedule around your most time consuming tasks:
Once you identify which tasks throughout your day actually take the most time, you can build your schedule around those tasks. For me, scheduling the most time consuming tasks at the beginning of the day helps me feel more motivated and accomplished as I get through them and helps conserve my energy.
Eliminate what unnecessarily takes time:
Once I tracked my actual tasks for work and projects, my total time didn’t at all reflect how much I was “working” per day. So clearly, I was wasting time somewhere. By tracking the time my tasks actually took, I was able to see what pointless distractions were wasting my time. Using distractions instead of getting our work done is all a part of our subconscious and when you run on autopilot without being honest with how you’re going to use your time, you’re much more susceptible. Now, I even plan when I will have timed breaks in between work so there is no place for the same habits to slip in.
Find a system that works for you:
Once I knew how much time my work actually took me and how much of my day I was spending distracted, I tried out different time management and planning techniques for my workday until I found the right one. Everyone’s attention span and workstyle are different. Personally, for me, the Pomodoro method of 25 minutes on 5 minute break works perfectly.
The key with any technique or system is consistency. It has to become more of a habit that your previous bad habits of managing time.
A couple of other techniques you should try are:
Franklin Covey Time Management System (from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)