Time Tracking for Business: Productive or a Pain?
As owners of a small business, we often bill our clients by the hour (or minute to be exact) and therefore have a time tracking tool (Toggl) running in the background. This allows us to keep tabs on how long we spend on each task, making billing our clients easier at the end of the month when we include a timesheet along with our invoices. A recent article in the Metro: Could time-tracking change your life and make you more productive? got us looking at the productivity side of using Toggl in your business, is it a help or a hindrance?
What is Time Tracking?
Time tracking is a way of recording the time spent on activities, tasks and projects. Time tracking software is often used for freelancers, hourly workers and professionals who bill by the hour (lawyers and accountants for example).
If you worked at home during the pandemic then maybe your boss insisted on keeping tabs on your work. If you used a time tracking tool then did it make you feel guilty when you had a “comfort break” (pop to the toilet) or even put your washing on? If you are supposed to work 7.5 hours a day then bosses may have insisted in 7.5 hours of tracked tasks whereas in reality, if you were in the office some of this time would include catching up with colleagues around the water cooler. This in turn made many employees work longer hours at home, blurring their work/life balance, which is not very productive.
You may also find that you over-analyse days when it looks like you’ve done “no” work. Don’t beat yourself up though as we all have days like this. You will find that you look back at your time tracker reports and congratulate yourself on more productive days.
Advantages of Time Tracking
Time tracking can help you focus on your work. Rather than dithering about you may find that having a timer ticking away in the background will help you get on with the task at hand. Time is both of the essence for both you and your client.
If you are taking on a new client and are unsure how much to charge them then using a tracking tool will allow you to look at past projects and give a more accurate estimate.
You can of course use time tracking tools to provide a holistic view of your daily life. This can allow you to examine your routine and see areas where you want to reduce time spent and maybe use that time on a new project or hobby.
On balance we like Time Tracking
I look back to when I was working as an Office Manager in the early 2000s and my job was very varied. I was asked to define my role: our organisation had been bought by another so had to future-proof my position and provide a percentage split for each of my main areas of responsibility. Had I known about time tracking tools then this would have been a whole lot easier. I used an Excel spreadsheet and recorded my tasks over a month. I even presented my findings in a presentation, complete with pie chart!
As Virtual Assistants, we are very much for using time tracking apps. They help us keep us productive!