estimated reading time: 3 min
Ally is an engineer and an author. As an engineer, she got interrupted a lot:
“There were heaps of unplanned tasks delaying my actual work.”
These tasks kept her from being focused and getting her work done. Furthermore, she had to hand in a timesheet for her work and provide her boss with the number of hours she worked for different clients “which was more like a random guesstimation.”
Fewer disturbances & better estimating
After one month Ally trained herself to have a natural instinct of tracking her time. And it was worth the effort:
“On average, I have four times fewer disturbances than I did a year ago.”
After the Analytics showed her how much she got distracted, she decided to reject a lot more things.
Ally tracked her disturbances to see how much time they consumed. She had one side with a flash ↯ for that. Whenever someone interrupted her she switched to the ↯ . “This was amusing for my colleagues and they were like ‘oh, oh, she turns the Tracker to the flash!”
After she saw in her Analytics how much she got distracted, she decided to say “No” more often. The statistics helped Ally to practice discipline and to see her progress over time.
Moreover, she got better at estimations of tasks. “Historical data of how much time I’ve spent on a specific client is as accurate as it gets,” Ally reported. Her time sheets are generated by a macro that works with the .xlsx export.
It also brings psychological benefits, since one can see where the time went instead of having the feeling “like you did nothing at all”.
How to use #hashtags for client billing
With Timeular Ally tracks different activities for her work and freelance life.
“I tried to come up with activities that were broad enough for different projects, yet distinct enough. Then I chose the most used ones for the Tracker.”
The other activities, that she doesn’t need all the time are just tracked in the app. She tracks Regular Work, Deep work (Getting Things Done), Calls, Breaks, Meetings, Unplanned, small activities, external appointments, travel time and education/training. For her freelance life, she tracks writing, editing work, timeline-work, research, and backstory.
Ally wants to know how much time she spends on different clients and on which tasks. This helps her have a better sense of how much to charge. For billing the right client, she uses #tags to write down the client’s internal ID. “If I have to call a client back, it’s an entry for the activity “phone call” with a note ‘#ID:801’. When a project is done, I’ll search my data for “#ID:801” and book the hours in the specific JIRA-case. It’s a matter of fifteen minutes at most, if you’re booking grouped by actual activity.
To see how many hours are collectively spent on meetings, Ally uses the @mention function for writing down who actually attended them.
Ally’s tip: Don’t let your data just rot there.
“Track meticulously, but also look at your data. Don’t just let it rot there.”
Don’t just track your time for the sake of tracking your time. Look at the data you get out of it, because you will only be able to improve something if you reflect on what you are currently doing.
“If you’re working in an office environment, you’re gonna be shocked how little of your day is spent on actual productive work, ” Ally laughed.
Ally is an engineer and an author. She started using Timeular a year ago.