For something that’s essentially the lifeblood of business, time tracking sure does get a bad rep. There is a ton you can do with accurate time tracking beyond tracking billable hours, and since you can now completely automate the whole thing, now is a good time to start reaping the rewards.
When done well, time tracking is the single best way of learning how to use time better. You simply can’t get more quality and value from your time without knowing how you spend it in the first place. If you’re looking to increase your productivity, here’s how time tracking can help:
Without tracking your time it’s hard to get an accurate idea of which projects are actually profitable. The issue is, unless you can see exactly how long you’re spending on a job and compare it to how much you’re earning from it, it can be hard to identify which work has a good return on investment. And unless you know how much time each project task takes, your project estimates will be off too.
With an automatic time tracker, you can quickly pick out your most profitable clients and projects, identifying which work is most worth your time. But it doesn’t stop there! You can also:
- Capture commonly missed billable hours (like travel, meetings, phone calls and project communication);
- See how long different projects take you;
- Know exactly how you spend your project budget;
- Determine whether your rates cover all your costs;
- Calculate profitable rates for every project.
You essentially see everything that goes into different client work. And it’s all tracked for you – no need for manual timers or spreadsheets; just focus on what’s actually productive.
Without having an overview of your working day and behaviors, how can you see where you need to improve? Getting a real sense of how productive you are is impossible without cold, hard data showing where your time is actually going – and many people find the results surprising: seeing how long you really spend browsing Twitter or Reddit can be a bit of a shock!
Time tracking is great at highlighting hiccups in our workflows – where tasks take too long, where we get distracted and where our focus is spread too thinly. With this data, can then practically address our own behaviors and processes to become more effective. It essentially offers you complete transparency over how you work, so you also know the best times in a day or week for working on your most difficult tasks.
Time tracking gives you insight into how long tasks take, helping you set realistic benchmarks, plan time efficiently and quote accurately. By comparing how long similar tasks take you, you can calculate the average task length for all your project components. It essentially shows you what you can actually achieve – essential for estimating projects as well as monitoring your own efficiency on a job.
Setting reasonable expectations from the get-go is imperative if you want to establish good relationships with your clients. Reliability and accountability depend on you actually knowing how you will perform. With time tracking, being too optimistic with timings and missing deadlines will be a thing of the past.
The consciousness of how you use time is perhaps one of the biggest productive benefits of time tracking. You see how you leak time, you know how long something should take you, you understand how you work best. And this all feeds into structuring your time more intelligently to make sure you get better at using it.
In this way, time tracking can help direct your productive efforts. For example, by seeing that you multitask too frequently, you’ll realize that you need to protect time for focused deep work. And since most time trackers let you plan hours ahead, you can start introducing more effective structure to your work – always remembering to compare what you end up doing against what you intended to do.
Ultimately, time tracking isn’t just about recording hours for a timesheet. It’s about giving you full transparency over how you manage your time, and providing useful insight to help you make smart, informed decisions about the ways that you work. You simply can’t improve your productivity, without knowing how productively you’re working in first place.