In this new article you’ll learn how to track your time at work. Any productivity manual worth its salt will recommend that you track your time. Of all the resources you have at your disposal, time is the only one you can never regain. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
The problem is, most people actually think they’re using their time wisely. They go through their workday, working on projects that have been assigned to them and meeting their deadlines. That must mean they’re working productively, right?
How To Track Your Time At Work:
As you already know, that perception is almost always a mirage. Under closer scrutiny, it quickly becomes obvious that the individual’s workday is as leaky as a sinking ship. Time slips through his or her fingers – a few minutes here and a few minutes there – ultimately adding up to hours of wasted time.
Research suggests that full-time office workers put in less than 3 hours of productive work each day. Some researchers claim the actual amount is closer to 90 minutes. But ask most corporate employees whether they’re busy and you’re sure to hear tales of 60-hour weeks and looming deadlines. The problem is that most people waste a ton of time. Worse, they don’t realize it.
The only way to truly know how you spend your time is to track it. Only then will you have the data you need to figure out if you’re spending your time wisely. For example, you may discover that those “quick” visits to Facebook and Twitter are having a major impact on your productivity.
The Simplest Way To Track Your Time
There are several online time-tracking tools you can use for free. My favorite is Toggl because it’s simple and free. Once you register an account, you can create an unlimited number of projects and tasks, and assign each of them a specific color for easy visualization. Toggl’s interface is intuitive. When you’re ready to start a task, click the large red button to start the clock. After you complete the task, click the button again to stop the clock. That’s as simple as it gets.
Toggl will keep track of the amount of time you spend on various types of activities according to how you organize your account. For example, suppose you’re a blogger. You can set up a project for blogging and create individual tasks for that project related to researching, writing and editing your blog posts. That allows you to drill down to the finer details of your work. For instance, you’ll be able to see how much time you spend editing your posts.
Toggle allows you to view how you’ve allocated your time over select periods (e.g. last week, last month or a specific date range). Then, it displays that data in an easy-to-interpret pie chart. If social media is taking up half your workday, the time you’re spending on it will be impossible to ignore. You can also create detailed reports that show your time allocation in different formats. Here again, you can display the data for the date range of your choice. It almost sounds like I’m the owner of Toggl. I’m not. Nor am I an affiliate (I’m not even sure if they have an affiliate program). I just really like the tool. By the way, you can use Toggl on your smartphone (iOS or Android). It’s just as simple and intuitive as it is through your browser on your desktop.
You can also download the Toggl software to your computer, though I’ve never found a reason to do so. If, for some reason, you hate Toggle, use one of its many competitors. Here’s a short list of popular alternatives:
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Frankly, I think you’ll love Toggl as much as I do. Having said that, it never hurts to have options. Of course, you can also use a pen and paper to record your time. Doing so is high-maintenance, but I have friends who swear by that method. The most important thing to remember from this section is that you need to get into the habit of tracking your time. Don’t assume you’re using it efficiently. Track it. Then, look through your reports to figure out where you can make improvements. (b)