Over the next eight hours, you make a lot of phone calls, send a lot of texts, and answer a bunch of emails. It feels like you’re doing a lot, but when 5 PM rolls around, you realize you didn’t get much done at all.
What on earth happened? You don’t have a good work-life balance…that’s what happened!
We get it–it’s easier said than done to do everything you want in a single day, but we have the perfect solution for you:
If managing your time seems impossible, this is the key you’ve been looking for.
So, let’s get down to business and unmask five ways on how time-tracking can be of assistance in getting your life back on track.
First Things First: What is Time-Tracking?
Not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s a quick breakdown:
Time-tracking is the practice of documenting every minute of your day. From large projects and important meetings to minute tasks like phone calls, text messages, and coffee runs, this is a way to keep track of how you use your time.
There are two distinct ways to do this:
- Use time-tracking software: Download one of the various time-tracking apps out there for your phone or mobile device. They all work differently and have unique features, but they all let you monitor how long it takes you to get things done.
- Do it manually: Not into apps and software programs? No problem! You can track your own time with a good old-fashioned spreadsheet! Whenever you begin a project, open an email, or get up from your desk for a bathroom break, jot down when you start and finish.
Both of these techniques are very valuable for people who want to achieve a better work-life balance.
1. It Gives You Data About Your Working Habits
Whether you work at home or in an office, time-tracking will give you keen insight into the way you work and how long it takes you to complete things. In this way, it’s useful for workers of all types–payroll employees, freelancers, etc.
It’s even useful for students who are trying to balance college with a part-time job and personal life.
If you’re in school, for example, you can use a time-tracking app to keep track of how long it takes you to finish your homework. That way, you’ll have a good idea of how long similar assignments will take in the future.
If you know it’ll take you roughly three hours to finish your science homework, you’ll be able to set aside enough time to finish it before you make other plans.
In other words:
When you understand how much time you spend on specific tasks, you’ll be able to manage your schedule better. You’ll be able to stay productive while leaving yourself time to get everything done.
2. It Helps You Stay Focused
Everyone has trouble focusing sometimes. With social media and text messages tugging at your attention, it can be difficult to concentrate on one thing.
Staying on-task is especially hard if you work at home. It’s hard to work on spreadsheets if your dog is constantly pestering you to take them on a walk.
One way to fix this is to set an alarm. Whether it’s in a time-tracking app or with a manual clock, setting an alarm will give you a micro-deadline that you have to meet. This is a way to light a fire under your butt–to force yourself to give all of your attention to the task at hand.
3. It Allows You to Identify Non-Essential Tasks
Remember how I hinted at wasting time in the introduction? Well, time-tracking will show you exactly which tasks you’re wasting time on.
It’s far too easy to get caught up in tasks that aren’t pertinent to the current project. It’s also easy to get distracted by entertainment (YouTube cat videos are my personal weakness). In some cases, it could even be a spouse or co-worker who is dragging you away from work.
But by tracking everything you do in a given day, you’ll be able to look at how much time each task took. You may be surprised by how much time you spend making coffee every day.
Identify what is wasting your time and see what you can do to resolve it. If it’s not helping you achieve a goal, spend as little time on it as possible. Do yourself a favor and remove those so-called “tasks” from your to-do list.
4. It Limits the Amount of Administrative Work You’ll Have to Do Later On
There’s a reason why freelance platforms like Upwork have built-in time tracking software. It’s extremely useful for independent contractors.
Time-tracking is handy for freelancers for two reasons:
- It helps you create accurate job estimates for potential clients
- It’s a way to maintain work records while you’re working.
Freelancers spend a lot of time looking for work, drafting up proposals, and writing invoices after they complete jobs. These tasks can take hours on their own.
Oftentimes, freelancers have to go back and count the number of hours it took them to complete a project after they’ve finished. But if you track your time while you’re working, you won’t have to do any of that administrative work later on.
And, this gives you a way to create more accurate estimates for projects when you submit a proposal for a job. If you know it took you 40 hours to edit a 15-minute video for your last client, you can use that to give future clients a good estimate.
Clients love when freelancers take the amount of time they said they were going to take on a project. So, getting good at estimating can help you earn repeat clients, and prevent you from having to search for new ones!
5. It Shows You When You Need a Break
Remember: the key to work-life balance is the balance part. Time-tracking not only documents how much time you’ve been working, but also illustrates how little time you’ve been living.
If you’ve spent four straight months working hard without taking a break, it could be time for a vacation. Burnout is a real thing. Constant work will only leave you feeling exhausted.
So, you shouldn’t just use time-tracking to keep yourself on-task at work. You should also use it to make sure you’re spending enough time with family and friends.
Sometimes, it’s frightening to look back at your time-tracking documents and see how little time you’ve spent enjoying life. Don’t forget to live a little!
As Stephen Covey says, “The key [to success] is in not spending time, but investing it,” and we couldn’t agree more.
Time-tracking is the best way to ensure that you’re making good investments.
After figuring out how you’re using your time, use this knowledge to improve your habits. Hopefully, you’ll apply what you learn to become a more focused, more productive, and happier person.
Cassie Avery is the Business Manager at Incline at Anthem. With over eight years of experience in the industry, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She finds joy in helping others and makes this property a place everyone loves to call home.