Making your time count when working from home
Finding balance in our day-to-day lives is something that many of us strive for. Every day we are forced to make thousands of different choices; from deciding when to get up, what to wear and have for breakfast, to which news channel to watch before getting down to work.
Human behaviour is guided by actions that provide you with a positive result. When this happens, you strengthen that response mechanism like a muscle and are more likely to respond in a similar way in the future. Your behaviour has been reinforced!
But when faced with a range of options, particularly when working from home, how do we respond in the most productive way?
The matching law
Behavioural science shows that we choose to complete one action instead of another, based on four elements (a theory known as the matching law). The influencing factors are; reward, effort, delay and quality.
We are more likely to do something productive when
- It consistently achieves positive results = high rate of reward
- You don’t have to put much effort in (life’s busy!) = low effort response
- There is no waiting around, you can see the positive impact instantly = no delay reward
- You get a big payoff for boosting your productivity (e.g. it saves you a ton of time) = high quality reward
Make your time count
One way you can improve productivity is through time tracking. This involves using a device to record the amount of time you spend on tasks throughout the day. Time tracking helps you understand where you are draining your time, and the insights can help you put priorities in place to direct your efforts to the really important stuff.
Despite the benefits, not everyone tracks their time. Why?
The matching law can explain
Some time tracking tools can be difficult to use. They don’t always record your tracked behaviours accurately (low rate of reward). They can require long daily sessions of inputting data and are not fun to use (high effort).
Apps can be slow to load results, meaning you have to wait longer to see your progress (long delay) and those results might be poorly detailed (low quality reward).
All of these factors combine to make time tracking seem more effortful than efficient.
When I came across Timeular, it changed my perspective on time tracking. I quickly realised that the Timeular Tracker includes all of the qualities which behavioural science shows is necessary to strengthen time tracking behaviour.
- The Timeular Tracker reliably records each task you have been working on
- It’s unique and customisable design is easy to use (just flip the Tracker to record a new task)
- Results are available to view quickly via your smartphone or the desktop app
- The graphs and information are rich in detail, showing you exactly how you have managed your time. The ultimate reward for your time tracking ambitions
Achieving the ideal work-life balance is always going to be a challenge. But now I have the knowledge and the tools to start tracking my time and make every minute count.
Bethany Marie is the founder of Behaviour Babble, a blog that aims to make psychology simple and show how you can apply it to enhance aspects of your life.