What is time tracking? Everything you need to know about it!
Have you ever had that sinking feeling when a deadline is approaching, time has flown by, and you may have wasted it all on some pointless task? Yeah, we’ve all been there.
And that is precisely where time tracking comes into play! To make sure you are spending your time wisely and on the things that matter most to you, time tracking can be a real life-saver.
This blog will look at everything you need to know about time tracking and why it’s so important. Also, if you’re not sure how to go about it and what tools to use, we’ve got you covered!
This guide includes
- What is time tracking?
- Why is time tracking important?
- Who can benefit from time tracking?
- How to track my time?
- Is time tracking effective?
- Common mistakes you can make if you’re new at time tracking
What is time tracking?
Let’s start with the basics. Time tracking is a way of accurately tracking how much time you are spending on tasks.
Whether you’re a project manager or a freelancer, time tracking can help you manage tasks more effectively and find out where you may be wasting valuable time.
Why is time tracking important?
We could be here all day talking about the many reasons why time tracking is important. But remember that feeling of being super stressed by a looming deadline that we just talked about?
Time tracking can help you avoid that. If you know how much time you have available, you can plan your tasks better. You can even change your routines so you can free up more time for more productive things. It’s a win-win!
Who can benefit from time tracking?
A question with a quicker answer would be Who doesn’t benefit from time tracking? Because virtually everyone can benefit from time tracking regardless of what they do.
If you’re a working professional, time tracking can help you be more efficient in your work and keep track of billable hours.
If you’re a student, time tracking can help you stay on top of your studies and ensure that you are using your time wisely when cramming for that exam.
No matter who you are, time tracking can help you better manage your time and get more out of your day. And depending on what you do for a living, you can use it for different purposes. Let’s check it out.
If you run your own business, a time tracking solution can help you identify areas where your team may be spending too much time or not enough time.
That said, let’s be clear about something: time tracking is not about micromanaging. On the contrary, it’s about empowering your team.
Time tracking’s main goal is to give you and your team that much-needed data on project progress so that everyone can make better decisions about the time they’re spending on each task. It’s about learning how to work smarter, not harder.
It can also help you budget your time and resources more efficiently. If you don’t know how much time your team is spending on each project, how will you know how much to charge your clients?
Instead of guessing, a time tracking tool gives you solid time-spending data, so you know how much to charge your clients next time. No more over or under-estimating.
Productivity is key to a successful career. And time tracking can definitely help you with that. For example, if you realize you’re spending a lot of time on a specific type of task, you can work on streamlining your process to save time in the future.
This can be especially helpful when you have deadlines to meet or if you need to juggle multiple projects at once.
Remote work is one of those work-related topics that everyone seems to have an opinion about these days. And they can be widely different and with good reason.
Because of the pandemic, we all got to experience remote work – the awesomeness of it all and the inevitable pitfalls. If you’re familiar with those pitfalls and are looking for ways to avoid them, time tracking can be just the thing for you.
With time tracking apps, you can let your manager and team members know what you’re actively working on.
And if you enjoy remote work, it’s also important that you learn how to manage work-life balance. It’s not as easy as one might think, the last two years have shown us that.
But time tracking can help you see how much time you’re spending at work, so you can make adjustments to ensure that you’re not working too much and sacrificing your personal time.
If you’re a project manager, you’ve probably found yourself repeating some variation of this age-old phrase several times a month, “Don’t forget to log your hours, please!”
But getting people to log in their time can be a real nightmare! Let’s be honest: your team hates doing it, and you hate asking them. They don’t see the value in it, and you can’t explain it any better.
With the right time tracking tool, you can make things easier for everybody. You’ll know for sure how to track time spent on projects. You’ll also have access to data that can be used to generate reports that can be shared with your team, stakeholders, or clients.
On top of that, time tracking can also help you identify potential bottlenecks. If one of your team members repeatedly takes longer to complete a task, you’ll know that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
By identifying these issues early, you can take steps to solve the situation and avoid delays down the line.
When you’re a freelancer, a part of your time is spent working on actual projects while the other part is focused on documenting your work for a portfolio that you’ll show to potential clients.
Time tracking apps will give you access to data that helps you showcase your work. It can also help you negotiate rates with clients. If you can show a client how long you spend on a task, they may be more likely to agree to a higher rate.
You may not realize this yet, but as a student, it’s crucial that you learn to manage your time. In fact, it’s one of the most valuable skills you can learn before entering the world of work.
And not only can time tracking help you with that, but it can also be a powerful tool for goal-setting. By knowing how much time you have available, you can set more realistic and achievable goals for yourself.
If you can learn to do this early on, it will spare you from many cold sweats before a project is due or from that feeling of wanting to hide behind the chair in a team’s meeting because you’re project is running behind schedule, again!
Time tracking can also give you great insights into specific patterns in your behavior. For example, you may notice that you can get more things done in the morning or tend to procrastinate on specific tasks.
By being aware of these patterns, you can change things, and try different methods until you find that balance that keeps you focused and productive.
For personal use
Even if you’re not running a business or working on billable projects, time tracking can be a great tool for setting personal goals.
Sure, how to track my time is not something that just comes naturally to us. It takes some getting used to. But if you want to achieve a specific goal, tracking your time can help you see how much progress you’re making and how much time you need to devote to that task.
How to track my time?
There are several different ways to track your time. In fact, they’re so many that you can get a little light-headed trying to swift through it all. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered here.
You can use:
- paper planner
- online planner
- time tracking app
- time tracking software
- simple spreadsheet.
The important thing is to find a system that works for you and that you will actually use. One way to get started is to simply track your time on each task for a week. At the end of the week, review your data and see where you can improve.
You can even make a list of things to check:
- Are there any tasks that you spend a lot of time on and could get done more quickly?
- Are there any tasks that you don’t spend enough time on?
Whatever method you choose, the important thing is to be consistent and regularly check your data.
To give you a clearer idea of how to track your time, we’ve looked at some of the available tools out there for time tracking. Let’s look at some of them.
Time tracking apps
Time tracking apps or time tracking software are hands down by far the best way to keep track of your time. Some of these apps allow you to track your time by the hour, while others let you track your time by the day, week, or month.
To find a time tracking app that best suits your needs:
- Start with a good old Google search. Try typing “time tracking” or “time management” and see what comes up.
- Once you’ve found a few options, take some time comparing the features of each app and read some of the reviews clients have left them.
Once you’ve decided on an app, it’s time to start tracking your time! Most time tracking apps will allow you to start a timer when you begin working on a task and stop the timer when you’re finished. This way, you can get an accurate picture of how long you’re spending on each task.
Spreadsheet time tracking method with Excel and Google Sheets
The spreadsheet time tracking method is one of the most basic ways of time tracking. Simply put, it involves adding task time to a spreadsheet template.
But let me tell you, if you’re committed to time tracking to improve your productivity, this is not the most efficient way to go about it. It can be very time-consuming.
That said, there are a few different ways to track your time using a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets. You can look for a free template online or create your custom spreadsheet.
In both cases, you should at least add columns for:
- the task name
- start time
- stop time
- and task duration.
You can then fill in the information manually or use a formula to calculate the task’s duration automatically.
You can use PDFs to track your time by creating a simple table or chart with the days of the week and the hours you plan to work. Then, you can fill in the table or chart as you work each day.
Just as with Excel or Google Sheets, a PDF can be a helpful tool for time tracking. But if you consider the time you’ll be investing to manage it, you should look for other tools that can help you streamline your process and offer automatic time tracking.
Other ways for time tracking
Other ways to track your time besides time tracking apps, time tracking software, and spreadsheets include using a physical planner or keeping a daily journal. If you prefer not to use technology to track your time, these are all great alternatives.
Physical planners and journals will help you stay organized by giving you a visual representation of your schedule. You can also use timers to break down your day into manageable chunks and keep on track with your tasks.
Is time tracking effective?
Yes, time tracking can be very effective. In fact, studies estimate that U.S companies lose a total of $8.8 billion every day due to employees not using time tracking methods.
That’s a lot of money! Imagine how much you could save or make if you and your team used a time tracking tool.
But time tracking can also be ineffective if you use it wrong. For example, if you track your time but don’t review your results, then what’s the point?
You won’t be able to change whatever it is that’s holding you back and making you less productive because you’re not checking your data.
No matter which time tracking methods you choose, the important thing is to find one that works for you. With a little trial and error, you’ll be able to find a time tracking solution that helps you boost your productivity and get more done in less time.
What are the most common mistakes you can make if you’re new at time tracking?
People tend to make a few mistakes when they’re new to time tracking.
- The first mistake is not being consistent with it. You need to track your time every day, or every workday. It’s the only way to get an accurate picture of how you’re spending your time. Otherwise, this can lead to lost billable hours and may cost you clients.
- The second mistake is not being specific enough. When you track your time, you need to be clear about what you’re doing. Instead of just writing “Worked on a project,” try writing “Brainstorming”, “Meeting”, “Break” or “Project [name].” This will give you a better idea of how you’re spending your time on specific tasks.
- The third mistake is not tracking your time in a way that’s convenient for you. There are a lot of different time tracking methods and tools out there, so find one that works for you and stick with it.
How can Timeular help you track your time?
Timeular is the only time tracking app that can really help you lead a more rewarding work life. It’s a simple, powerful tool that can help you and your team accurately track the time you’re spending on different tasks and projects.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. Try our 14-day free trial, no credit card required, and give it a go! You’ll be able to experience firsthand how Timeular can help you and your team stay focused on what matters and find new ways to optimize your time.
With Timeular, you’ll be able to:
- Assign activities, set goals and analyze data
- Identify bottlenecks and wasted time
- Quantify distractions, organize and share activities
- Share time reports with just one click
- Use data to create accurate invoices
- Improve time-data compliance
- Get useful insights into where your team’s time goes.
It’s very easy to log your hours in Timeular app, especially if you use our time tracking cube.
You can access Timeular via your browser, or you can download it to your computer. Timeular also has mobile apps for iOS and Android, so you can track your time even when you’re away from your computer.
You’ll finally be able to get more done in less time.
Get started with our 14-day free trial
Time tracking apps are a great way to keep track of your time. There’s no downside to it. You and your team will save time and become more productive and learn how to take control of their time.
If you’re interested in trying out a time tracking app, give Timeular a go. With Timeular, your team will learn how to work smarter, not harder.