Why You Should Be Tracking Your Time
As I try to become more productive so that I can continue to find enough time to work at my day job, work for my freelance clients, and grow my other side hustles, I find myself underestimating how long certain tasks will take to complete and not being accurate about the amount of time I spend working on each project. So, for the last month and a half I have been doing some time tracking with Toggl.
I knew I wanted to test time tracking and I looked at a few time tracking tools but I found Toggl to be the best fit for me. First of all, I've been using their free package and it's been great. They have a web app that you can use in any browser or you can download toggl and keep it running on your desktop. You can set up different "projects" and note what tasks you're working on within each of those projects. I found this really helpful because I could set up projects for my day job, my blog, each of my freelance clients, my Etsy shop, and every other side hustle I am working on. You can also set toggl up to run on a Pommodoro Method timer, so it will remind you to take a break after a pre-set amount of time. This really comes in handy when I'm holed up on a rainy Sunday with plans to work all day. It's good to have something to remind you to come up for air! If you're interested in trying time tracking, I would definitely recommend giving Toggl a try.
Here are a few benefits I have found from tracking my time:
Time tracking helps you be realistic about the time it will take to get your work done.
When you're working on starting and growing a business, it's important that to set realistic and obtainable goals. But, it's impossible to set realistic goals if you have no idea how long you'll have to spend working toward each of those goals. You can make a to-do list for the week, but if you think everything on that list will only take you 15 hours to complete when in reality, you'll need to spend 25 hours working in order to check off every item on that list, then you are setting yourself up for failure. By tracking your time, you can look back at how you've spent your time on similar tasks in the past and be more realistic when you're planning your to-do list in the future.
Time tracking helps you effectively prioritize.
After you've been tracking your time for a few weeks, you'll start to get an accurate overview of how you spend your time. This comes in handy when you are prioritizing your to-do list. Anyone who is running a business, ESPECIALLY if you're also working at a day job, must prioritize tasks. You probably have a to-do list a mile long and there is no way you'll get to everything. So, you need to put your effort into the tasks that are most important and will help you move your business forward and reach your goals. Once you've been time tracking, you can look at how you've spent your time and do some analysis. Are you spending a lot of your time on activities that aren't going to make much of a difference in your business? How much time are you REALLY spending on your most important to-do list items? Looks at your time tracking reporting and decide if there are certain tasks that are just taking up too much of your time. Do you need to be doing those tasks? Is there any way you can cut down on the amount of time you're spending on these tasks? Could you outsource these tasks to focus on the more important items on your to-do list that demand your attention?
Time tracking helps when looking at time vs cost.
If you are working to increase income from your side hustle, time tracking can be a helpful way to help you set your income goals. How many hours per week do you spend on your business and how much money is it bringing in? From there you should consider how you can increase the income without increasing the number of hours you're working on your business. If your business is service based, this can be particularly helpful when you are deciding what rates you should charge clients. If you have been tracking your time, then you can get a better idea of if a rate is too low for the amount of time that client requires.
Time tracking forces you to admit your time wasting activities.
We all know that there are those little bits of time where we take a break to look at Instagram really quickly, then look up from our phones and realize we've just wasted 20 minutes doing nothing productive. Time tracking shows you, in hard data, how much time you are actually working and how much time you are spending on the other stuff, the time wasters. This has been a big bonus for me. I know I can fall into the trap of browsing social media or reading a couple of quick articles, especially when I'm feeling tired or unmotivated, but it was an eye opener to see just how much time I was spending on these miscellaneous activities every week. You may think that you're working almost every waking hour, but after you have tracked your time for a few weeks, you might find that you're really only completing meaningful work for 15 hours a week.A bonus that has come from my time tracking journey has been that when I click that "start timer" button I am more likely not to fall into those time suck activities because I'm "on" if that makes sense. If you try time tracking, you will probably know what I mean.
Have you ever tried time tracking?