Time is arguably the most valuable currency in life. We are all allotted the same amount of it in a day, but we never know how much of it we will have in a lifetime. That’s why it is so precious.
In order to live a fulfilling life, we must be extremely cognizant of how we are spending our time each and every day.
Many of us would prefer to spend our time with family and friends, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, and feeding our brains.
However, we can’t do all those things without financial stability. Though money certainly isn’t the most important factor of life, it does award us freedom and security. Which is why time tracking is so important not just in terms of work, but our whole lives.
Maximizing productivity in our work lives means we are giving ourselves the opportunity to not work harder, but instead work smarter. Once we master this, we find we are able to spend less time making the income we need to live a balanced and rewarding life.
Okay, we know you get it—time tracking is a one great way to help you live your best life! So how do you become a champ at it? We’ve got you covered…
Understand the Value
If the words above didn’t influence you, then you need to dive a little deeper.
As we mentioned, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. And that’s not to say that we are encouraging you to cut corners or finagle the system. We just mean that in order to work as efficiently and effectively as possible, you must be dialed in to your distribution of time.
Which projects or tasks do you tend to get the most hung up on? What times of day do you find yourself the most productive? Do you feel better when you tackle your most challenging activities first, or do you like to check off a few smaller things to build confidence and momentum before digging into something hard?
Understanding your habits and behaviors is the key to unlocking your highest level of productivity. After all, everyone is different, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. You must be aware of your patterns in order to either break or reinforce them. Hence why time tracking is so important.
By being proactive about time tracking and making smart business decisions based on your findings, you’ll find you have more time for the things that make you happy, plus more mindfulness around the activities or distractions that aren’t serving you.
That’s why understanding the value of tracking your time and committing yourself to doing it is the first step at becoming a pro at it—so congrats, you’re on your way!
Now that you are dedicated to making the most out of your time, how do you get good at time tracking?
Time tracking can feel daunting, like another project you need to pay attention to all day long. That’s why choosing software or an app that best fits your needs is essential to success.
Here are our recommended best practices when it comes to finding (and using) a time-tracking tool.
Do you really need another thing on your to-do list that you’re probably going to forget to do half the time? Nope.
By using an app that automatically tracks your time on your device(s), your accuracy skyrockets.
Many tools have the ability to start and stop timers within certain tasks, but then you run the risk of forgetting to click the button when you should. Also, what if you get an unexpected phone call or step out for a quick bite? Some time-tracking apps tout their ability to allow users to go back and edit time after the fact, but that just takes even more time.
By using an automatic tool, you don’t even have to think about time tracking throughout your day—it’s all happening behind the scene (or screen, in this case). These apps automatically track which apps you use, which websites you visit, and which documents you use, so you later see exactly where your time went — without lifting a finger!
One of the benefits of Timing, a premium automatic time-tracking app specifically for Mac, is that you can also add manual time on top of the automatic tracking. Hop on a call or head out to a meeting? You can come back and enter that time after the fact (you can even set reminders for yourself to do so), or just enter calendar events right into Timing.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Thanks for the sound advice, Ben Franklin. If you’re tracking your time, great! But how do you know time is being allocated to the proper clients or projects?
That’s where organization and preparation can go a long way.
It’s critical to properly categorize your time to clearly (and quickly) see where time is being spent. If you think that you’ll go back later to file away certain chunks of time, you’ll just be setting yourself up for failure and frustration.
With Timing, you can create a hierarchy that makes sense for you. Whether you classify work according to projects, or need to distinguish by client (you can create an overarching “project” folder for this), everything will remain color-coded to visualize all time with just a quick glance at your Review screen.
Better yet, you can create repeating “rules” for your time. Does spending time in one specific app always indicate that you are working on a particular project? Creating a rule that automatically files any time in that app into that one project folder means you literally won’t have to lift (or click) a finger again.
The trick is to find an organizational system that works and apply it from the beginning. A little legwork upfront will save a ton of time on the backend.The trick is to find an organizational system that works and apply it from the beginning. A little legwork upfront will save a ton of time on the backend. Click To Tweet
Learn more on how to do this by reading Tips & Tricks for Categorizing Your Time.
If you are tracking time for personal-productivity awareness, then cheers!
But if you utilize a time-tracking tool for the purpose of billing clients for payment owed, then you’ll want a program that allows for easy reporting and invoicing.
Timing allows you to export time reports with a simple click of a button. You can even set presets or enter filters to customize the report to your exact needs.
Though you may have set up automatic settings, it’s still a best practice to spend a little time each day—we’re talking just a couple of minutes—reviewing your time and ensuring that everything is accounted for and filed properly.
This will save a ton of time down the road if you come to realize that not everything was quite as organized as you had once thought.
The Bottom Line
Like with most things in life, becoming good at something takes practice.
Cheers for making the dedication to tracking your time and allowing yourself the opportunity to become a more productive person.
We can promise that you’ll feel more efficient and accomplished, and that will in turn have a positive impact on other areas (and relationships) in your life.