2019 is coming to a close. Other than feasting on holiday cookies and shopping at end-of-year sales, you might be setting aside time to reflect on the past year and to create resolutions for the new one ahead. Typically, we review our finances, health, and relationships as January approaches. But we often overlook one critical piece of the previous year: our overall productivity.
Why Review Your Productivity?
Your personal productivity has a direct impact on every other goal you set.
Let’s say you wanted to increase your income by 10% in 2019. Reviewing your time usage will help you to see why you succeeded — or failed — in meeting that benchmark. Maybe you wanted to expand your client base, with a few valuable clients added to your roster. When you review the hours you spent on specific projects or existing clients, you’ll be able to see exactly how you were — or were not — able to make room for new business.
Or, like many others, you might have set a New Year’s Resolution that was health- and fitness-oriented. Looking over your time usage will give you insight into why you were able to squeeze in a daily 6 AM workout…or not.
Reviewing your time usage and productivity from the previous year can give you powerful insight into what drives success (or failure) in meeting goals. It can also help you set attainable benchmarks for the coming 12 months. And maybe most importantly, it can help you develop a strategy for using your time as efficiently as possible in the future.
How to Perform an End-of-the-Year Review with Timing
If you’re a Timing user, then you already know how valuable it is to perform a daily review of your time usage under the Review tab at the close of each work day. You may be surprised by how many hours you worked on a certain project. Or you may note that you were particularly productive in the morning, but drifted out of focus in the afternoon.
In the same way that a day-end review gives you valuable insight into your personal productivity, a year-end review gives you a similar understanding — but on a much larger scale.
The Breakdown of a Year-End Review
To generate a year-end review, simply go to your Overview tab and adjust the time frame from “Today” to “This Year.” We suggest doing this at the end of December or at the beginning of January to get the most accurate results for 2019.
Here’s what you’ll see:
- Your most active weekdays: Timing generates a basic bar graph that allows you to compare your level of activity Monday-Sunday.
- Your most productive weekdays, hours, and months: Activity doesn’t always equate to productivity. Timing assigns productivity ratings according to the value of your tasks or projects, and displays it per weekday, per hour, and per month.
- Total hours worked/average number of hours worked per month: Timing tallies your total number of hours worked in 2019.
- Total number of hours spent per application: Timing adds up every hour you spend in various applications, such as your web browser, word processing system, coding application, design software, and more.
- Total number of hours you spent on specific projects and clients: Finally, you’ll be able to see how many hours you spent on various projects and clients.
Whew! That’s a lot of information packed into one tab. And while this data is certainly valuable on its own, it pays to be strategic about evaluating your year-end review. We suggest you ask yourself the following questions:
How has my productivity shifted from season to season?
Take a look at how your productivity shifted from Winter to Spring, and Spring to Summer. Did you work more productively when you had more hours of sunlight? Or was cold weather a motivator to stay inside and get stuff done? If your level of productivity shifted significantly from season to season, consider how you might plan for 2020. For example, you may want to undertake big projects for more productive times of the year, and take time off when you tend to work less.
Below, you’ll see how Timing displays a productivity score that shifts from season to season, in the upper right corner:
What time of day do I work most productively?
Were you more productive early in the AM, at around mid-afternoon, or well into the evening? Identifying your most productive hours can help you to see when you’re in the flow and working most efficiently. You may also want to consider how you can work more productively during certain times of the day. Are you distracted by social media in the late afternoon? Consider putting your phone on airplane mode, and see how your productivity shifts.
How many hours did I work in total for 2019? What about per week?
Many freelancers work a widely ranging number of hours from week to week, or month to month. Timing averages your number of hours per month, so that you can see how you’re measuring up to a “standard” number of work hours (40 hours a week, or approximately 160-180 hours a month). As a freelancer, your goal isn’t necessarily to develop a career that looks conventional, but it may help to know how your workload compares to that of friends and family.
You can also use your total number of hours to determine how much money you’re actually making per hour. Divide your net income by the total number of hours, and see if the resulting figure is an accurate reflection of the standard hourly rate that you quote.
Were my most time-consuming projects also the most lucrative/enjoyable?
It helps to know how many hours you’ve spent on each client or project. If you find that you spent an inordinate amount of time on a low-paying client or unenjoyable work, consider how to shift your time usage. This may mean cutting down gradually on low-paying work, or pursuing more projects that you love.
Moving Forward into 2020
Here’s the fun part: setting goals for 2020. Armed with helpful new insight provided by your year-end review, you’re now prepared to create valuable new objectives for the New Year.
Optimize Your Time Usage
If you were disappointed by your time usage in 2019, don’t beat yourself up. Simply set boundaries and create habits that will encourage more efficiency and focus. Click To Tweet Commit to setting aside your iPhone for at least four hours a day in order to get work done. Create a space that will help you stay focused and on task. Set a strict schedule, if necessary. You’ll be surprised at how small tweaks can help you stay on task for longer stretches every day — ultimately leading the way to a higher income.
Raise Your Hourly Rate
If you found that your total breakdown of hours and net income didn’t measure up to a fair hourly rate, consider raising your rates. You may be performing a significant amount of administrative work that you haven’t factored into your price point. That needs to change in 2020.
Pursue Work You Love
Finally, consider how you might pursue more clients and work arrangements that align with your passion and skill. The more time you can spend on work that makes you come alive (and pays well), the more fulfilled you’ll feel in your career.
Use Time Tracking Well
Finally, learning how to maximize your Timing usage can help you get rich, deep insights into your productivity that will serve your career well. Learn how to create tasks, use Timing on your iPhone, and use hacks that will optimize your time tracking. If you’re not yet a Timing user, give it a try here.
Reflect and Rest
Reflection is a powerful tool, and assessing your measurable levels of productivity is key to developing a freelance career you love. But don’t forget to rest! Enjoy the end of the year festivities, munch on some peppermint bark, and bask in the afterglow of a year well-lived. 😊