Sep 23, 2013

Time Tracking

It all began two weeks ago, when I started working on a really interesting design and coding freelance project outside of Viralica’s working hours.

I charged a fixed fee for this project, so I thoroughly estimated all the tasks that needed to be done, and identified all possible contingencies before calculating that fee.

Although I’m not paid an hourly rate, I decided to track how many hours I put into the freelance work to determine whether my estimates were correct. By the end of the job, I realized that I didn’t end up logging more hours than I’d thought.

I could have tracked my time on a piece of paper or on a Google Docs Spreadsheet, but I wanted an easy-to-use time tracking app with an integrated stopwatch. After doing a little research I found Harvest, a really neat app with a free plan and a simple user interface.

After using this app for two weeks, I noticed that it offered some amazing benefits — even more than I’d assumed in the first place. I was able to track the time throughout, and calculate the total hours I spent on the project.

Time tracking helped me avoid multitasking. I noticed that when the stopwatch started ticking, I focused specifically on the task at hand. It’s amazing how easy it was to avoid email, news sites, Facebook and Twitter, what with the time being recorded.

Time tracking made me aware of how I spend my time. Ever since I started tracking my time, I’ve come to realize how precious time is — and that I hate to waste it! When my time is tracked, however, I make sure that every minute counts.

Time tracking helped me prioritize tasks. Before I began tracking time, I wouldn’t have noticed how much time I spent on unimportant tasks. Usually, less important tasks took me more time, and I had a tendency to procrastinate on more important tasks as well.

After seeing those benefits, I decided to track not only my freelance hours but also the time I dedicate to my startup. Now I know how I spend my day, not to mention how many actual working hours I put in.

I know it may be difficult to continue using the app and tracking my time in the long run, but I will try to keep it as simple as possible and make it a routine.

Cutting Back Hours

I think that you can start cutting back hours — or possibly days — from your job when you know exactly how you spend your time, and how much effort you put into your work when you’re on the clock.

Lots of people would be surprised by how few hours they really put into their 9 to 5 job. Start tracking your time and see for yourself. Be honest, and if you find out that you really work only 4 hours and you still get great results, then there’s no need to push it and pack more into the other 4 hours. David Heinemeier Hansson once said:

“The secret to productivity is not finding more time to do more stuff, but finding the strength to do less of the stuff that doesn’t need doing.“

Nowadays, we know how much money we have in our bank accounts, how much we want to save to buy stuff, how much money we spend each month — you get the picture. However, few of us are aware of how much time we really dedicate to our jobs, how much time we put into the activities we love and how much time we spend with friends and family.

I don’t wan’t to be working a standard 9 to 5 job until retirement. The clock is ticking, after all, and we only have 24 hours in a day. We’ve got to be conscious of how we spend those hours.

I’m completely sure that people would be a million times happier if they expend the same amount of energy managing their time that they do managing money.

BTW, writing this blogpost took me 2.5 hours

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